Day 8 – Nutrition For Athletes

This is the eighth day of our team’s virtual mid-season training camp. Each day for the next 28 days, there will be a short assignment for you to do to continue your development. These assignments are mandatory for players and coaches. Parents are also encouraged to participate.

As we start the second week of the training camp, we’ll start breaking down the key areas to develop on our path to becoming a varsity student hockey player.

Starting with nutrition for athletes.

The Pareto Principle – The 80/20 Rule

The Pareto principle states that for many outcomes roughly 80% of consequences come from 20% of the causes. This applies to nearly every skill we’re trying to master or goal we’re striving to achieve. By identifying the 20% of the keystone habits that will give us the maximum benefit, we can accelerate the process.

There are literally hundreds of different diets and thousands of books written about dieting, food and nutrition. Here are some of the most popular diets. I’m sure you could quickly come up with a lot more.

  • Vegetarian diet
  • Vegan diet
  • The Zone diet
  • Ketogenic diet
  • Mediterranean diet
  • Paleo diet
  • Western diet
  • Atkins diet
  • Weight Watchers diet
  • South Beach diet
  • Raw food diet

The purpose of each of these diets varies. Many are designed to help people lose weight, though there are certainly other benefits that come from following each of these diets. We’re going to focus specifically on nutrition for young athletes.

Where do we start? Remember the 80/20 rule. Master the top 20% of things that will impact us the most. Master the basics. Until you are consistently eating like a successful athlete, don’t worry too much about vitamins, supplements, macro-nutrients, meal timing and a host of other advanced nutritional strategies.

Nutrition is a tool that you can use to get a big advantage over your competition. You can think of the food you eat as fuel for your body. Benefits of improved nutrition include:

  • Improved strength, power and speed
  • Higher energy levels
  • Improved recovery time
  • Better body composition
  • Improved focus
  • Improved resistance to sickness

If you really want to be a top athlete, you have to consistently eat a healthy diet. Think about your role model. What would Sidney Crosby eat? What would Hayley Wickenheiser eat?

Changing your diet is about developing new keystone habits and routines. It is never easy changing things that you may have been doing for years.

The 7 Commandments of Nutrition for Athletes

Source: Waterloo Warriors High Performance Program – Athlete Nutrition

  1. Eat lean protein with every meal.

    Protein supports lean muscle growth and is essential if you want to get stronger. For a 125 lb. athlete, you should be trying to get 20-25g of protein per meal. Examples of 20-25g of protein: 4 oz. skinless boneless chicken breast, 2-3 whole eggs, 1 scoop of protein powder, 4 oz. top sirloin beef steak, 1/2 fillet of salmon, 1 cup of 1% cottage cheese. There are lots of plant based sources of protein as well.
  1. Eat vegetables or fruit with every meal.

    Everyone knows that fruits and vegetables contain all sorts of good things for athletes. Vitamins, fibre, and more. Think of having a fistful at every meal. Salads and frozen vegetables make this easy.
  1. Eat carbohydrates from whole, natural sources.

    While many diets proclaim the value of eating low-carb, athletes need carbohydrates to replenish your system from the fuel used in training and competition. Try to get your carbs from whole, natural sources that contain fibre and plenty of nutrients. Avoid highly processed glucose-spiking junk foods. Good examples include rice, quinoa, oats, whole-grain pasta, potatoes, legumes and organic breads.
  1. Eat healthy fats every day.

    Healthy fats support brain and nervous system function, assist with sleep and recovery and help transport essential vitamins and minerals into your body. Healthy fat sources include animal fats, nuts, natural peanut butter (the only ingredient should be peanuts), olive or organic coconut oil, avocados, eggs. Avoid trans-fats and hydrogenated oils. These are chemically altered oils and are usually are only found in processed foods.
  1. Drink at least 3 litres of WATER every day.

    Proper hydration will increase your energy levels and improve your overall health and body composition. Buy and use a big water bottle. The less often you have to refill it the more likely you are to be successful. You can flavour the water with lemon juice, slices of fruit, cucumber or cinnamon sticks. Avoid drinks with added sugar.
  1. Have a post-workout recovery shake.

    If you want your muscles to grow, it is important that you give them the fuel them up immediately after you deplete their energy stores. The best way to do this is a shake, since solid foods can take a few hours to digest. There are many good recovery shakes: Biosteel and BeachBody are just two. Try for a 2:1 ration of carbs (30-40g) to protein (15-20g). Chocolate milk is another good option in a pinch. You can also mix your own by combining a 500ml bottle of Gatorade with a typical scoop of whey protein.
  1. Minimize consumption of food and drink (alcohol) that disturbs recovery and regeneration.

    This one should be obvious. This certainly includes any non-prescription drugs, smoking or vaping.

I’m sure you’ve still got a lot of questions about nutrition for athletes. Thee will be more information to come later in the training camp.

Today’s Assignment:

For today…

  1. Complete today’s workout on the TeamBuildr app. Be sure to mark each exercise complete as you finish it. If it is your rest day, enjoy it and doing something fun.
  1. Write down four examples of meals you could eat that follow the 7 Commandments of Nutrition for Athletes. POST your answer to the team WhatsApp group.

    For example:
    Breakfast – 2-3 scrambled eggs, leftover salad from dinner, 2 pieces of whole wheat toast with avocado spread. Large glass of water.
    Lunch – Natural peanut butter on 9-grain bread, raw vegetables (carrots sticks, pepper sticks and broccoli spears) with hummus. Large glass of water.
    Dinner – Baked chicken breast with steamed green beans and couscous. Large glass of water.
    Snack – Mixed berry smoothie (with Greek yogurt, almond milk, berries, flax seed, etc.) and a handful of unsalted mixed nuts.