Diesel Spotlight: Nutritional Practices for Athletes
The Importance of Nutrition for Athletes
A Guest Post by Strength Coach, Joe Meglio
Let’s face it, many athletes struggle with their nutrition.
I often ask my high school athletes what they ate on that day so far and I usually get answers like pop tarts, a bowl of cereal, a wrap or sandwich and other highly processed food that comes out of a box or wrapper.
Not only are they eating crappy food, but they are barely eating! The problem with poor nutrition is that an athlete cannot expect to perform at their best if they are not feeding their body the proper nutrients it needs to achieve maximum performance. You are what you eat! If you eat like crap, you are going to feel like crap, recover slowly and have low energy levels.
Nutrition Made Simple
The biggest challenge for most athletes is being consistent and making the right food choices. In order to solve this problem, the best approach is to make nutrition as simple as possible. This means don’t complicate it by counting calories and other macronutrients. Instead, athletes should focus on eating nutrient rich foods.
If you are eating nutrient rich foods you will be taking in all the proteins, carbs and fats you need to succeed. Man made food isn’t meant for human consumption. These types of foods contain ingredients that are inflammatory and toxic to the body. A great rule of them is if a caveman wouldn’t eat it, neither should you!
What Foods Should You Eat?
Athletes should focus on eating mostly fruits and veggies, nuts and seeds, beans and legumes, and whole unrefined grains like brown rice, quinoa, oats, sweet potatoes. Free range chicken and eggs, grass fed beef and wild caught fish are also excellent choices.
Below is a sample meal plan. When it comes to meal frequency, I recommend you eat when you’re hungry. It really is as simple as that. Don’t worry about eating 5 or 6 whole food meals a day. I used to be a huge proponent of eating every 2-3 hours but when you do this for an extended period of time you start to realize that this lifestyle does not agree with your digestive system.
The simplest approach is to eat 3 whole food meals a day (breakfast, lunch, dinner) and eat small snacks or a smoothie in between meals to keep you satisfied. You should not plan your life around your next meal. Athletes I’ve talked to either eat way too much or not enough at all. It’s all about finding balance.
Meal 1: Breakfast
Muscle Building Smoothie – Put all ingredients into a blender and blend until you get desired texture
- 1-3 scoops of Sun Warrior Protein
- 1 frozen banana
- 1 cup of frozen strawberries
- ½ of frozen spinach
- 8 ounces of almond milk
Meal 2: Mid Morning Snack
- 1-2 handfuls of cashews and an apple
Meal 3: Lunch
- Grilled chicken spinach salad w/ chopped almonds
Meal 4: Dinner
- 6 ounces of salmon
- 1 sweet potato
- Grilled veggies
Meal 5: Still hungry?
- Eat leftovers from dinner
If you haven’t been eating for performance, now is the time to start.
Remember the keys to achieving optimal health and maximum performance are consistency and making the right food choices.
Ask yourself how many games in your life have you missed or not performed at 100% because you were sick, sore or not feeling right?
Once you start eating nutrient rich foods you will recover faster than ever, have more energy and get sick less just to name a few benefits.
How About Supplements?
Supplements are one of the most controversial topics for athletes. While I am not a huge fan of supplements and certainly don’t think they are necessary, certain supplements can be beneficial to overall health and performance. When it comes to choosing a company make sure you do your research. There are only a handful of companies I will purchase products from.
Supplements I recommend
- Probiotics & Digestive enzymes by NOW Foods
- Raw Vegan Protein by Sun Warrior
- Creatine Micronized Monohydrate by Biotest
- Super Omega 3 by Life Extension
- Ideal Whey, Focus Food & Ideal Pump by GI Nutrition (use promo MEGLIO to receive 10% off)
Other supplements to consider are BCAAs, omega 3 fish oil and a multivitamin…
Remember that the bulk of your vitamins, minerals and other nutrients should be coming through whole foods. Supplements are meant to “supplement” your diet, not be the focal point of it.
If you really want to find out what nutrients you are deficient in consider getting blood work done by your doctor. This is the best way to tell what vitamins and nutrients you are deficient in.
About Joe Meglio
Joe Meglio is a strength & conditioning coach at the Underground Strength Gym in Edison, New Jersey. He is mentored by one of the brightest minds in the strength and conditioning industry, Zach Even-Esh. While Joe has worked with various athletes at the high school, college and professional level, Joe specializes in the training of baseball players. Aside from being a strength coach, Joe competed in his first powerlifting meet on December 11, 2010 and set the NJ state squat, deadlift and total records in his weight class and division. He will be graduating from Fairleigh Dickinson University in May of 2011 with a BS in Entrepreneurial Studies and is captain of the FDU Devils baseball team. For more information on Joe Meglio and his unique training methods please check out MeglioFitness.com
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Tags: athletic nutrition, eating for strength, how should athletes eat, improve nutrition for athletes, meals for athletes
April 7th, 2011 at 3:22 am
Very weak re-hash of old hat info…
April 7th, 2011 at 8:09 am
Excellent article, keep nutrition simple, eat from the Farm, not the factory!!!!
April 7th, 2011 at 8:36 am
Thanks bro. Good information here for athletes who have not been taught how to eat properly by their parents, etc.
April 7th, 2011 at 8:39 am
This is basic information. Unfortunately, like common sense, having an understanding around just the basics isn’t very common for athletes these days.
It’s obvious most athletes have no idea how to eat. The teens I train here at my facility eat pizza, hot dogs, grilled cheese, and other crap every day. They’d be bigger, stronger, play better, and be able to study harder if they utilized the basic info in this post.
Voice of Reason, I would love to review any guest posts you would like to submit!
April 7th, 2011 at 10:54 am
I agree, good info and basic, but many athletes are missing the basics for sure.
1) Rationale for Sun Warrior protein?
2) Peri Workout nutrition thoughts? What would you do different on training days?
Mike T Nelson PhD(c)
April 7th, 2011 at 11:20 am
I’m going answer your second question in a more detailed post but to answer your first question I try to limit the amount of dairy intake such as whey. I do supplement with it occasionally but I generally prefer rice protein because it is a lot easier on my digestive system.
With that said I like Sun Warrior protein because it is the best testing rice protein I’ve ever had and was highly recommended to me by other trusted strength coaches. Most rice proteins I’ve tried are very chalky and I can’t enjoy them. Sun Warrior tastes great and is a reputable company so that’s why I recommend it to my athletes.
All the best,
July 20th, 2011 at 4:20 pm
Great Post Joe. And Jedd, isn’t it funny that athletes will invest thousands of $$s in training, but never give a second thought to nutrition.