SPORTS NUTRITION FOR THE STUDENT ATHLETE: “OWN IT”
Student athletes are one of my favorite groups to work with. I love being able to help them realize that properly fueling their bodies can have a huge impact on how they feel both on and off the field. I love to show them that it is possible to achieve their goals utilizing RWF (Real Whole Food) as opposed to relying on chemically laden food-like supplements. I love to see the “light bulb” go off when they realize that fueling their body is one of the few things that they have control over in this whole competitive “Sports Thing.” Last but not least, I LOVE when they call or e-mail me to keep me posted on all their achievements.
Yup – I LOVE working with kids!
As sports parents we are all too aware of how difficult it can sometimes be to get our kids to listen to us. This becomes especially challenging when we are competing with NBA, MLB and NFL Superstars that are forever “brainwashing” our athletes that their way is the only way. I often ask my athletes if they really think that it is the Gatorade that is making the difference with that NBA star on TV or perhaps it is the athlete’s access to top notch coaching, training, gear etc.… that is giving them the edge. I absolutely LOVE the fact that Stef Curry is promoting water as his hydrator of choice. I only wish that more professional athletes would take this approach.
When I sit down and work with a soccer or football or lacrosse player, I ask them what is the most challenging component of eating healthy. More often than not, their answer is in relation to not having enough time. This is where we, as sports parents, can help. Having healthy, grab and go foods in the house and on the dinner table can be a game changer. Making a bunch of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on whole wheat bread the night before a tournament takes about 10 minutes to prepare and can eliminate the whole concession stand challenge the next day.
Another issue that often comes up with kids is in relation to PROTEIN and the best form to ingest on a regular basis. I help the kids to realize that it is very easy and tasty to obtain protein from whole food sources rather than filling up on chemically laden bars and shakes. Although I do feel that there is a place for these items in an athletes diet, I do not feel that they should be the first line of attack. Whey protein shakes and whole food protein bars are great in a pinch, but I point out to the kids that whole food contains other dietary components, like fiber, that their body needs on a daily basis. Once the kids realize that there is a place for both forms of protein, they can start to carve out a healthy plan.
The most important component of sports nutrition that I emphasize with these athletes is that this is something that they need to wrap their heads around every day, not just on game day. What they fuel their bodies with on a daily basis has much more of an impact on performance than what they do once or twice a week.
Consistency is Clutch
Once the kids realize that they need to “OWN IT” in regard to fueling their bodies and that this can give them the EDGE over other players, they usually buy in 100%.
I am super excited to be attending a Sports Nutrition conference this week on the importance of proper timing of food intake around exercise and will be excited to share this info with all of you.
Check out my website and Facebook page for more information and tips or contact me directly if you would like to set up an appointment either in person or via SKYPE to help individaulize a plan for your athlete.
Noreen Gallo MS RD