The 10 NUTRITION RULES TO LIVE BY
By: Amanda Carlson, MS, RD, CSSD
Director of Performance Nutrition, Athletes' Performance
Athletes' Performance (www.athletesperformance.com) is a training center for elite athletes. Athletes' Performance integrates mindset, nutrition, movement and recovery into their programs to decrease injury potential, enhance performance, and create sustainable systems of success.
Nutrition is something that affects everyone. Everyone needs fuel and everyone needs nutrients. Yet everyone eats for completely different reasons. As an athlete on the field putting thought behind what goes into your mouth can do wonders for health, but most importantly performance.
The thought process behind choosing the right foods or combinations of foods seems to be the most paralyzing for most athletes. There are so many different opinions, ways of doing things, answers to weight loss, answers to weight gain everywhere you turn that it can become confusing to a point where acting on good intentions seems to halt.
By no means do I want to downplay the complexity of nutrition, but what does all the science matter if behavior does not change? In working with athletes over the years, we break down our methodology into "10 Rules to Live by" that can be simplified to five categories: eat clean, eat often, hydrate, recover, mindset.
If you can follow these 10 rules each and every day, you will be on your way to optimizing your nutrition and your performance. These are 10 easy steps to being on top of your nutritional game. Each of these topics will be explored with their own article in the months to come.
- COME BACK TO EARTH!!! Try to choose the least processed forms of carbohydrates. If you give your body efficient fuel, it will perform better. Fruits, veggies, and whole grains (whole wheat bread, brown rice, and whole wheat pasta) will give you more stable energy levels than more processed foods like chips, soda, white bread, and candy.
- Eat BREAKFAST every day! The longer you wait to eat breakfast, the longer you will be running in a low gear! Eating breakfast jump starts your energy levels and your metabolism.
- Eat smaller portions more often, spread evenly across the day. No excuses --- you should be eating 5-8 meals/day! You should be combining protein, carbs, and healthy fats at each of your meals! Just think 3 for 3. The 3 nutrients every three hours. An easy way to make sure you do this is to pack snacks from home and keep them in your locker and your back pack! If you stay fueled all through the day, you will have better performance at practice and games.
- Stay HYDRATED!! Dehydration = Decreased Performance! Drink at least ½ your body weight in ounces of water per day. Make sure to think before you drink! Stick to mainly water and every once in a while 100% fruit juice. Use sports drinks only before, during, or after activity!
- Include a LEAN PROTEIN source with each meal. When choosing your lean protein sources, just think "the less legs the better!" Fish have no legs and are a lean source of protein. Chickens and turkeys have 2 legs and are great sources of protein if you take off their skin and don't fry them. Finally, when choosing any products that come from cows and pigs (animals with 4 legs) you need to be more selective. Choose lean red meats, low-fat dairy, and lean pork products.
- PACK YOUR LUNCH! Don't rely on the cafeteria to provide your fuel. By bringing your own lunch and snacks, you will guarantee that you will be optimally fueled.
- SUPPLEMENT WISELY. Add a multivitamin daily. A general multi-vitamin is a good way make to make sure you are getting all the nutrients you need. Food first, supplement second, but if your diet is not consistently getting you all of your needs---take the multi-vitamin. Beyond a mulit-vitamin, you must be careful with supplements. As a high school athlete, focus first on eating the right foods, in the right amounts at the right times. Many supplements are not tested for banned substances and may contain harmful materials not noted on the label. As a high school athlete, I do not recommend any "specialty sports supplements", but sports foods such as bars, shakes and gels, can help you to get extra carbs, protein and electrolytes that you may not be getting from food alone.
- Eat Fruits or Vegetables with each meal! Fruits and vegetables provide you with natures forms of anti-oxidants, vitamins, and minerals.
- Drink a mixture of carbohydrate and protein immediately after your workout. Recovery is one of the limiting factors of performance. If you get a combination of carbs and protein immediately after a game or workout, you get a jump start on repairing your muscles and refueling your body. Try an EAS shake or bar for optimized nutrition and convenience.
- Last, but not least --- Get some rest. The body recovers and repairs when it is sleeping. Try to get 8 hours of sleep per night. Those who do not get enough rest often times get injured and sick more often than those who are adequately rested.
Here is a LINK to API's website