When we first meet our athletes, we have them fill out a mini food log. It only covers three days, but it is enough to enlighten us to the fact that most of you, your eating stinks!

What some of you eat before games, usually makes me nauseous. I’m sure at one time I might have eaten similar things before a game, but if I did that now I’d probably pass out, throw up, or both.

Which some of you do. If you ever wonder why you might have had a poor performance in a game or training session, well then let’s start there.

All the training we do to get you prepared for your game, gets wasted when you fuel your body with that cr@p! You obviously don’t know what to eat, so I’m going to eliminate that excuse and just tell you what to eat.

The first mantra you have to get through your thick skull is this:

“Athletes EAT and TRAIN. They don’t diet and exercise.”

If you are an athlete, you have to look at eating as one continuous training cycle. As soon as you are done with a game or practice, you have to start eating again to replenish the energy/nutrients you just lost during your performance. But, it doesn’t stop. You are continuing to eat all the way up to that day’s practice to keep your body fueled for energy.

That is basically what you need to do throughout the whole season. Yes, you can eat some junk here and there as long as the majority of your meals are part of the nutrition plan to optimize your athletic potential.

If you have food allergies, then you need to account for those. Don’t eat something that you’re allergic to cause I said so. If you have any issues with what I tell you, then by all means go to a registered dietitian and let that person figure out how to meal strategize for you.

I’m also going to try to keep this real basic and real simple. My athletes just want to read and eat, that’s it. Alright, here’s what I’m thinking:

  • If just 1% of dehydration kicks in, then that can decrease PERFORMANCE by 10-12% so you need to stay hydrated daily to account for bodily functions and sweat loss. Get about ½ your body weight in fluid ounces each day. When you exercise, that number increases because you need to drink more fluid during those activities.
  • You need to eat protein to repair muscles that have been broken down after a workout. You know how much protein that is? About 20 grams, which is 3-4 ounces, which looks like the size of a deck of cards. You don’t need more than 40 grams at one sitting because you waste anything beyond that.
  • Animal protein sources are preferred such as chicken breast, fish, lean meat, even nuts, and dairy products have a decent amount of protein. There is no difference between food and supplement protein so if convenience is a factor then a good supplemental product will work. Personally, I like Advocare’s products. They have good protein in several of their products that can be beneficial for you – Muscle Gain, Post Workout Recovery, and a Meal Replacement Shake.
  • Carbs for an athlete are good. Something that can be consumed after a workout, game, or practice that has both carbs and protein would be great. Ideally, 20-30 minutes after the activity ends. Some of those post workout drinks can be fine. Chocolate milk seems to be popular. Or something like fruit and nuts. Or a peanut butter and jelly sandwich could be good. No fast food burgers and fries, processed chips or similar items, no cupcakes either.
  • You need to eat before your games, so I would probably consume your main meal a few hours prior to the game. This should include some type of carbohydrate and low fat protein. Saturated fats will make you sluggish so avoid those types of foods. Make sure it is something you have eaten before that won’t upset your stomach. Good carb choices are potatoes, pasta with a marinara sauce or potentially meat sauce, brown rice, and fruit.
  • An hour before, if you need to eat something I would keep it fruit related and then anything you need during a game can be fruit or some type of fluid.
  • BREAKFAST IS AN ABSOLUTE MUST DAILY!!! Even if you have a morning competition, make sure you have a good dinner and/or post meal snack and get up early enough to have a breakfast. Pancakes with a little syrup isn’t bad. I like whole grain bagels with some jelly or fruit. Oatmeal is good as well. This isn’t a choice, you need to eat breakfast.

I think that is simple enough to follow. Any specific questions, put in the comments box below. But, I think that handles the majority of nutrition issues I have to hear about from my athletes.

NO eating pizza prior to a game. I also won’t accept that you are too nervous to eat anything the day of a game. Get over that. You are setting yourself up for an awful athletic performance. I don’t want that and I know you don’t either. Use food as another weapon in your arsenal to beat your competition.