Every sport is different. Eating correctly differs from one sport to another.
If an athlete competes once a week, his/her diet will be different from an athlete who competes two or more times a week. However, there are some eating tips that can apply to most high school athletes.
Ramona High School Athletic Director and Coach Damon Baldwin distributed the following guidelines to his football players at the beginning of the summer. The main source for this article comes from a sports nutrition expert, Marc Coburn.
During two-a-days in any sport that conducts two practices a day, eating carbohydrates is the key. Athletes have to eat carbs (pasta, bread) to recover for the next practice. Protein is needed to build and maintain muscle mass, but excessive protein consumption is stored as fat.
Athletes should eat 40 grams of carbohydrates for every 30 grams of protein. Some good choices for protein are turkey, cheese rollups, fruit, vegetables and protein bars. Read the wrapper and make sure that the energy bars are not just candy bars labeled as protein bars.
Pre-game or pre-workout meals are important. The goal of such meals is to fuel the body for competition. Low fat foods are best for these meals.
Fats take longer to digest. High-fat meals can make an athlete feel sluggish and the athlete will not perform at a high level. Avoid fried meats, fried potatoes, bacon, sausage, potato chips, etc. Bread and cereal are better than fried foods. Grilled, baked and broiled meats are better than fried meats. Tomato sauce on pasta is better than cream sauce.
Here are some suggestions for pre-game or pre-workout meals: turkey or ham subs, fruits, yogurt, eggs, toast, ham, grilled chicken, small cuts of steak with carbs, sports drinks, juices and water.
Post-game and post-workout snacks can help an athlete recover. Athletes should replenish fluids and carbs within 15 minutes after the activity. The sooner the better.
The body craves complex carbs (bread, pasta) and simple carb (sugar) after a competition. Fruit, yogurt and sports drink snacks will promote recovery and muscle growth, according to Coburn.
Post-game meals eaten within 60 minutes after a competition or workout should have the proper combination of carbs to protein (four carbs to three protein). Coburn suggests: steak kebab and rice, salmon with green beans and corn, roast beef with mashed potatoes and salad, hamburgers, grilled chicken sandwiches, baked potatoes, juice.
An old coach’s tip: Don’t completely change your diet all of a sudden before a game. That can shock your system. Don’t try to lose weight during tryouts. Eat and drink. The extra exercise will help with unwanted weight. Dropping a lot of weight in a hurry is never a good idea.