The moment you start to feel shaky during a shift, practice, at-bat, or stint on the tennis court, is an indication of inadequate fueling to your central nervous system. Going through long gaps without feeding your body can make you under-fueled not only for that very day, but the following days of summer tournaments, long practices, two-a-days, and camps. It can become a vicious cycle if you, for example, overeat at night, awake still full, skip breakfast, and under-fuel again during the day. These simple reminders will help avoid these pitfalls.
For stop and go athletes such as basketball, hockey, field hockey, soccer, and football players, the main source of fuel is CARBOHYDRATE. The more CHO you have available to your muscles, the longer an athlete has increased playing time and can perform more strongly in extended play, practice, or OT (shifts, stops, shots, blocks). Make sure your meals and snacks provide foods like: cereals, pastas, bread, rice, potatoes, granola bars, sports drinks, dried fruits, tortilla, pita, lavash, pretzels
GOAL: To increase nutrient availability, choose CHO-rich foods that are low in fat, especially within hours of games and practice
Consume both CHO and protein post-game/practice. PRO helps repair and recover muscles, while CHO helps to decrease the onset of muscle soreness post-game as well as replenishing lost CHO used during the game/workout/practice for fuel.
GOAL: Stick with a 2:1 ratio (ex. 16g CHO:8g PRO). Most athletes should most likely consume ~24-40g PRO post-game (48g-80g CHO), depending on the size of the athlete. Examples: Chicken and rice, shrimp tacos, steak and potatoes, large sub, pasta with meat
Performing when muscles are low in CHO will diminish blood levels of immune cells, to create a gateway for viruses to enter the body. A CHO-depleted state increases stress hormones and inflammatory molecules.
Also, plan to increase your vitamin C intake ~1-2 prior to getting on the plane if your camp, tournaments, or competition is further away. This will help in regards to immune defense and oxidative stress. Also, focus on antioxidants (AOX) like dark leafy greens, dark berries, tart cherry, spices like chili powder and cinnamon to increase immune defense.
GOAL: Keep eating your CHO and increase AOX-rich foods
Injury Prevention & Reaction Time
Inadequate hydration results in fatigue and a lack of concentration. Low blood sugar results in inadequate fueling to the brain and CNS. This leads to poor reaction time and slowness. Poor coordination – as a result – can lead to missteps, inattention, and injury. Think about it – every move counts as a competitive athlete (pivots, shots, blocks, and even simply turning your head). Fueling properly helps keep you on top of your game.
GOAL: H2O (all day, everyday) + CHO + proper recovery meal + AOX = Summer-Ready Sports Nutrition