Saturday, January 19, 2013

Making a Good Athlete Great

"Nutrition...It Can Make a 

Good Athlete Great, 

or a Great Athlete Good."

...As stated by Brandon Marcello, director of sports performance at Stanford University. What about nutrition CAN make a good athlete great?

     Every athlete wants to become bigger, better, faster, stronger...the best. Similarly, all parents and coaches want these things from their children and athletes, too. However, becoming a better athlete doesn't just come from mediocre training. It doesn't come from steroids. Although there are some players out there who have raw talent and are prodigies for the rest of us, for most, becoming better does not happen over night. It takes the intense training. It takes the two-a-days and three-a-days. It takes the mental toughness and motivation. But, what most people do not realize is that nutrition plays a tremendous role in making someone better. Like Marcello said, "It can make a good athlete great." Along with the exercise and training comes the diet.
     So, the first question is then: "Well, then what do I eat?" No, the answer is not McDonalds or Burger King. It is also not candy bars and sodas for energy or chips from the gas station. I mean, this couldn't make any more sense: "If you have a diesel-fueled vehicle, you don't put regular gas in your car. You can't expect your car to run with the wrong fuel in it." To transform a good athlete into a great one, you must eat healthy foods that provide the natural antioxidants, energy, anti-inflammatory "powers" and so on. Foods like fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and plant and white meat animal proteins. Crazy, right? No, just smart.
     Here's another one of my "personal stories." If you have read one of my previous blogs called "My Nutrition Journey - Story, Personal Temptations, Stuff I've Learned, and Advice," then you have heard about how I used to eat incredulous amounts of junk/processed foods (example: ice cream three nights a week; red meat - ALL of the time). But, I'd like to go in more detail about how I've changed as an athlete. I am not trying to "brag" about myself or anything, but I want you, the reader, to understand just how much better I have been able to perform. I started eating cleaner around March 2012, but when school ended, I completely changed my diet.
     First off, 1) my stamina (endurance you could say) has exponentially increased. When comparing my cross country times from last year to this year in the 2 mile, it is about a 2 minute difference. I know that does not sound huge, but every minute counts in a cross country race. Additionally, last year I could barely run a 5k. This year in cross country, not only did I run a 5k every race (except for 2 races), I finished in the top 10-20 almost every time. Last year if I ran in the varsity races I probably would have placed in the 30s. 2) I am stronger. Of course I have done weight training, but that training would not be as significant if I did not eat a diet rich in organic white meat protein (chicken) and plant protein to help bulk myself up more. 3) I am more awake at school, especially in the mornings. Waking up and doing a little bit of core and eating protein and whole grains do wonders. I am more alert. 4) Other than times when I have been dehydrated or just really thirsty at the moment, I cannot remember the last time I had a headache from being tired or from the food I ate, etc.
    So, for the athletes out there who want to make themselves even better, follow my advice. Quit with the daily stops to Dairy Queen to purchase a large chocolate blizzard to "bulk up." Do not go through the drive thru at Sonic and purchase a large chili dog with extra cheese and a soda for "protein and energy." Instead, increase your stamina. Make yourself stronger both mentally and physically. All of this can be done by what food you put in your mouth. Want to be able to stay in the game for the last 10 minutes? Want to jump over the last two hurdles in the 300? Eat better. As crazy as it does sound, nutrition can change your game.

Here are some good snack ideas for you below. There are a plethora of meals you can eat but these are just a few:

Pre-Game Energy Snacks 

-Banana (with peanut butter)
-Toasted Ezekiel bread with either peanut butter, bananas, strawberries,...
-Poached egg on toasted Ezekiel bread
-Plain Greek yogurt with any type of berries

Post-Game Recovery Snacks

-Egg Yolks
-Chocolate Milk
-Whey Protein

Other Healthy Snacks

-Celery with peanut butter and blueberries
-Overnight oats: Soak overnight in unsweetened almond milk, cinnamon, and honey and frozen blueberries. In the morning, add chopped up strawberry and banana (gotten from an Instagrammer - thank you!).
-Green Monster Smoothie: 1 banana, blueberries, spinach, kale, chia seeds, honey, nonfat plain greek yogurt, almond milk and ice (gotten from an Instagrammer).
-Oats with plain nonfat greek yogurt, half and banana, and honey (gotten from an Instagrammer).
-Dinner: 1 egg, 3 egg whites, 1 tomato, 1/2 cucumber, 1/2 green pepper, steamed broccoli, balsalmic vinaigrette (gotten from an Instagrammer).
-Dinner: Chicken and salad with spinach, grape tomatoes, walnuts, chia seeds, vinegar, and coconut oil (gotten from an Instagrammer).
-Dinner: Chicken, spinach, tomatoes, black beans, cheese, salsa - either as a salad or in a tortilla.
-Need something sweet? Try this as a dessert: Oats topped with peanut butter, (fried) banana, dark chocolate, melted berries and honey (gotten from an Instagrammer).
*I suggest you buy as much as you can organic in order to avoid the bioengineering, pesticide residue, and other unmentionables.

And lastly, avoid soda. That stuff can ruin your performance and bring down your energy!

Got more questions? Just contact me or comment below!