1. Nutrition is your Secret Weapon
2. Develop a habit of Eating Frequently
3. Breakfast is for Champions
4. Time Nutrients for Best Muscle Gains and Recovery
5. Skip or Minimize the Alcohol
To round out the Top 10, here are some additional guidelines to help you on a path to developing a lifestyle of healthy eating in addition to becoming a healthier and more productive athlete.
6. Be smart about Nutrition Supplementation – Learn how proper supplementation and timing can greatly impact your performance
a. 90% of Supplements do not work and will make your wallet smaller. In addition, many supplement companies do not practice Good Manufacturing Standards (GMP), therefore, making the supplement industry a “Buyer Beware” market. Informed Choice testing 58 products for banned substances and 25% contained Steroids. Bottom Line: You can’t trust the local GNC sales staff on what to buy.
b. On the other hand, proper supplementation with high quality products can be extremely beneficial for your strength, performance, and recovery goals. Supplements do not replace the intake of food as most supplements designed to improve strength, power, or recovery do not contain calories, therefore, will not give you an immediate boost of energy unless it contains a wide variety of stimulants + caffeine, which is not on my “RECOMMENDED” list for collegiate athletes.
Here’s a list of the top 5 supplements I recommend that have been scientifically proven by the top nutrition researchers in the country to enhance strength, performance and muscle recovery.
2. Beta Alanine
3. Chocolate Milk
4. Whey and Casein Protein
To ensure you are taking products that are free of banned substances, please visit www.informed-choice.org for a list of tested supplements. Informed Choice performs the highest quality of testing of dietary supplements.
7. Have a plan in place to achieve success with good nutrition
Athletes who eat well have a plan in place to achieve their goals. Planning involves:
• Having healthy food in your house/apartment
• Bringing nutritious snacks to class for between meals
• Having healthy snacks when traveling to road games
• Knowing your eating schedule (times) for the day
• If trying to lose weight, those who have the most success keep a food diary
Having a plan and being organized is one of the most important principles when sticking to a smart eating plan.
8. Be Smart when dining out, particularly Fast Food
Whoever told you that you can have a cheat day doesn’t know very much about practicing good nutrition. It’s ok to have a cheat meal once or twice a week but eating whatever you want for an entire day can disrupt six days of quality eating. I realize Fast Food is a favorite in the majority of diets of college athletes but if your goal is to maximize performance and improve overall quality of life, I don’t recommend you eat fast food too often, if ever. I’m a realist and realize you’re going to eat it so if you do, BE SMART.
Instead of eating a Value Meal, choose these options:
- 2 Small or Jr. Hamburgers (hold mayo and cheese), substitute a salad with light dressing instead of Fries with a Water
- Grilled Chicken Sandwich with a side salad or fresh fruit
- Single Hamburger with a small or large chili (i.e. Wendy’s)
- Egg Mcmuffin or 2 Breakfast Burritos with low fat milk or juice
- 2 Chicken or Steak Soft Tacos with a Bean Burrito
9. Stay Hydrated
a. Especially with the humidity Louisiana during the summer, hydration is critical for the management of many elements.
b. Body temperature, electrolyte balance, and absorption of key vitamins and minerals are altered depending on your hydration status. It is important to go into any active event (practice, lifting, game) hydrated. Dehydration can significantly impact your performance as well as contribute to muscle cramps, especially if you’re only drinking water during long events or training sessions. Drink at least ½ your body weight in ounces of fluid + any losses with sweat.
c. CLEAR URINE = hydration (excluding caffeine and alcohol)
d. DARK YELLOW URINE – Dehydration (unless taking a B-Vitamin)
10. Don’t Underestimate The Importance of Snacking
What I mean by snacking are the meals in between breakfast, lunch, and dinner. A snack could consist of a protein shake, peanut butter sandwich, fresh fruit and a sandwich. Remember how beneficial it is to eat every 3-4 hours. A quality snack will help you achieve this. CAR ANALOGY: You cannot expect your gas tank to remain full for 6-8 hours so refill it every 4 hours with a small meal or snack.
If you have any questions regarding this BLOG or general nutrition questions, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Tavis Piattoly, MS, LDN, RD
Team Dietitian, New Orleans Saints
Team Dietitian, St. Amant High School
Nutrition Consultant, New Orleans Hornets