It’s no secret sports nutrition is a major cornerstone for an athlete’s diet. Scientists recognize and accept nutrition as the foundation for athletic success. A well designed diet allows for athletes and active adults to consistently play at their best. One of the key factors contributing towards a player’s performance on the pitch is understanding the different components of nutrition. It can be an intimidating task trying to comprehend the amount of fats, proteins, and carbohydrates you need in order for your body to function properly.
I have spent a tremendous amount of time experimenting what nutritional steps I should implement into my own life that have the potential to make me stand out as player. I have read dozens of articles, watched hundreds of videos, and what I eventually found to be the most effective source of information was an article written by U.S. Soccer in 2012. Listed below are some of the easiest nutrition tips you can incorporate into your own life that I have found to substantially improve my own fitness, focus and motivation. These are the 10 nutrition rules to live by.
1. COME BACK TO EARTH: Choose the least processed forms of food such as fruits, veggies, whole grains and high fiber carbohydrates.
2. EAT A RAINBOW OFTEN: Eat fruits or vegetables with each meal. Choose a wide variety of colors for the biggest benefit.
3. THE LESS LEGS THE BETTER: Include a LEAN protein source with each meal.
4. EAT HEALTHY FATS: Include healthy fats in your diet like olive oil, nuts, natural nut butters, seeds, avocado, fish, flaxseed and flaxseed oil.
5. EAT BREAKFAST EVERY DAY: When you eat within 30 minutes of waking up, you jump start your metabolism. This gives you more energy to get your day going.
6. THREE FOR THREE: Eat smaller portions more often, spread evenly across the day. No excuses – you should be eating 4-6 meals/day! Aim for all three macronutrients (carbs, protein, and fat) every three hours for optimal fueling.
7. STAY HYDRATED: Dehydration = Decreased Performance. Drink at least three liters of non-caloric beverages (water/green tea) every day.
8. DON’T WASTE YOUR WORKOUT: Have a post-workout recovery meal or shake that combines both carbs and protein immediately after your training.
9. SUPPLEMENT WISELY: Fuel first and supplement second. If you are not getting what you need through food, add a multivitamin supplement into your daily routine. Create a smart supplementation program that improves your performance without compromising your health or draining your wallet. Before you take any type of supplement, make sure to check in with your doctor or registered dietitian.
10. SLEEP: Aim for eight hours of sleep. If you can’t get eight hours daily, consider power naps when you can. The body recovers and repairs best when it is sleeping.