It is that time again. The time where we reflect on the past year and look forward to starting fresh for the year to come. Many of us resolve to live more healthfully and to shed holiday indulgences. Others may look to make changes for improved performance on the pitch. Chances are, you have made this resolution before and found it hard to stick with. I’ve been there before!
The aim of this new series on LineoutCoach is to give you the information and power to make lifestyle changes to reach your goal.
Our focus in the coming months is on sports nutrition and fueling the athlete. Nutrition has a huge impact on performance and can give an extra advantage over an opponent. Proper fueling helps increase intensity of training, improves muscle recovery, and decreases fatigue. Sounds like what you are looking for but not part of a team? All of the topics we cover will always apply to your workouts, even if you are not part of formal competition. Everyone can benefit from a healthy approach to life.
5 simple ways to start your ultimate sports nutrition plan
1. Eat Breakfast
You have not eaten for 6-8 hours during the night. You should wake up hungry, and then break-the-fast. Get it? Breakfast. It is the most important meal and will set the tone for eating the rest of the day. No athlete’s diet can recover from skipping breakfast. It is a chance to replenish stores and keep blood sugar consistent until your next meal. Don’t have the time?
1/3 cup rolled oats (not instant kind)
1/2 cup nonfat milk or soymilk
1/3 cup yogurt (I use plain, greek)
¼ tsp of cinnamon
Combine all of the ingredients and stick it in the fridge overnight. I like to top it with some sliced almonds, dried fruit, or something a little crunchy, like granola in the morning. Try something new like chia seeds or ground flaxseed. No cooking required and it’s ready when you wake up!
(240 calories without toppings using skim milk, 16g of protein, 40g Carbohydrate, 2g Fat)
2. Find Balance
Eating large amounts of protein will not give you bigger muscles and more power, unlike what many athletes think. Don’t believe all the advertisements out there! Protein is an important part of the diet for recovery but an athlete’s diet is much more than protein powders and supplements.
Your plate should be filled with lean protein, some healthy fats, and carbohydrates (yes, you heard me… I said to eat carbs!) Carbohydrates found in grain products such as bread, pasta, rice, cereals, and quinoa, as well as dairy, fruits and vegetables. The fuel from carbohydrates are stored as glycogen in the muscle and provide the energy for muscles to perform.
3. Eat Clean
Eat whole foods and avoid overly processed foods. Check food labels and read ingredients. If you cannot recognize ingredients on the label, it is something you should leave at the store.
Focus on including:
- Choose “whole” carbohydrates with fiber. Examples are whole wheat bread and pastas, brown rice, and beans and legumes. Avoid refined carbohydrates.
- Include fruits and vegetables at every meal. Eat foods of different colors to get the most vitamins and minerals in your diet.
- Eat lean cuts of protein such as poultry, fish, pork, beef, eggs, tofu, beans. Cut off any excess fat before cooking and use lower fat cooking methods like broiling and grilling.
- Include healthy fats. These include nuts and nut butters, avocado, vegetable oils, and fish.
- If you include dairy in your diet, go for nonfat or low fat options.
4. Stay Hydrated
Dehydration will put stress on the body and extremely effect fatigue, concentration, and hunger. It is as important to drink throughout the day as it is to drink during training. Water works best, and 0.5 ounces per pound body weight is a good start.
5. Practice Makes Permanent
The more you stick to a healthy eating plan, the more it becomes a lifestyle. Every meal is an opportunity to make a change so keep at it! All foods can fit into a healthy diet as long as you are in control of how often and how much. Looking for motivation? Check out LineoutCoach’s weight loss journey.
Questions? Any sports nutrition topics you would like to learn more about? We would love to hear from you! Leave a comment or Contact Us
Jessica Hickie, RD, LD, CNSC is an integrative Registered Dietitian specializing in improving health, well-being and physical performance. She provides group and individual counseling and is currently the sports nutrition consultant for Dartmouth Men’s Rugby Team.