We are excited to have a new feature this year thanks to Family Fare. Each week Stephanie Edson, MS, RDN, LD, LMNT and Nathan Stock will be providing nutritional tips to help athletes reach their full potential.
Click on the Family Fare logo below for more information.
If watching your weight and still wanting to train, research has shown High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) to be effective at burning calories while not increasing hunger. Try this: 30 seconds vigorous/high intensity activity followed by 4 minutes light/rest activity and repeat 7 times or for desired duration. Vigorous/high intensity could be sprinting/high knee run, burpees, or squat-jumping jacks and the light/rest activity could be casual walking or stretching. By burning more calories without increased hunger, you can achieve weight loss since you will be less likely to ‘eat back’ the calories burned. While this method of HIIT has proven effective, depending on your individual body and nutrition prior to exercising, results may vary.
A good snack if trying to watch your weight is a handful of Our Family Toasted Oats cereal. With fiber, vitamins, and minerals, the Our Family Toasted Oats are not too heavy, but will give your body nutrients needed until after your match. Be sure to follow the previous nutrition and hydration recommendations and nourish your body so it can perform at its best!
When looking for athletic supplements, always proceed with caution. On foods, you will see the standard ‘Nutrition Facts’ label; on supplements, you will see a ‘Supplements Facts’ label. If a food or supplement, such as a protein powder, has a Nutrition Facts label, the product has been reviewed by the Food and Drug Administration; if the product has a Supplements Facts label, it has not. The FDA has very loose regulation surrounding products considered supplements and takes a reactive, not proactive approach. The FDA has not reviewed products with Supplements Facts labels and will only respond to these if there are incidences of harm.
While the FDA will not guarantee supplements, there are unbiased organizations that will review supplements so you know that what is claimed on the Supplement Facts is what you are getting and nothing else, or less. Options to look for include: NSF – Certified for Sport and USP Verification. Choosing supplements with NSF or USP logos will help ensure you have a higher quality supplement that will not become an issue as you train, practice, and play.
Regarding actual types of supplements such as preworkouts and performance enhancing products, again look for NSF or USP logos on the product, and before reaching for these products, make sure you are consuming a nutritious, balanced diet. When eating well, many supplements are not needed. Coffee or teas that contain caffeine can have the same effect as a preworkout and consuming beets/beet juice can help improve performance naturally through the nitrates that beets contain! Remember, your body will absorb more nutrients, including vitamins and minerals, when consumed in food compared to a pill AND if a supplement product or claim sounds too good to be true, it likely is.
There are many more supplements to talk about, than time we have here. If you have specific questions on athletic supplements, we are happy to help! Please email us at LivingWell@spartannash.com
The fluids we drink are just as important as the foods we eat. In order for our bodies to function and be at their best, we must have adequate hydration. Hydration is especially important for athletes – before, during, and after practices and games. Water is the best source of hydration, but tea, coffee, milk, and even high water content foods such watermelon and broth based soups provide our bodies with fluid.
There is much debate between which is best: eating six smaller meals each day, eating three meals each day, eating one large meal per day, or eating only during a certain time frame during the day. ‘Intermittent Fasting’ is the term used to describe eating only one meal each day or eating only during a certain time frame, such as between 10 and 4pm or 4pm and 8pm.
Since each body is different, there is not a one-size fits all recommendation on when someone should eat. There are benefits to eating breakfast in the morning, but there are also benefits to short-term (8 to 16 hour) fasting.
Breakfast is important especially for young kids since their school schedule is more structured and cannot have breakfast when they want. As we grow and once in high school, students have a little more freedom with regard to eating. If you do not get hungry until mid-morning and are allowed to eat at your will at school, eating then is best. If you are unable to eat at any time and you do get hungry mid-morning, you should eat breakfast prior to school to prevent hunger mid-morning which can be distracting from your schoolwork. Students perform better in school and on the field when well nourished and not hungry!
In the evening, we should stop eating about 1 to 2 hours before bed so our stomachs have time to empty. When we sleep, some of our body processes including digestion slow down so going to sleep on a full stomach may cause discomfort and reduced sleep quality. While sleeping, our bodies are automatically fasting for the 12 hours or so between your last meal/snack of the day and your first meal/snack for the next day. This fasting period allows our bodies to regenerate and focus on crucial tasks to keep us well instead of digesting food.
When it comes to our body composition (fat mass vs muscle mass), eating six smaller meals each day, eating three meals each day, eating one large meal per day, and eating only during a certain time frame during the day can lead to the desired results as long as your calorie and protein consumption is appropriate based on your level of physical activity. If you have specific questions, we are happy to help! Please email us at LivingWell@spartannash.com
‘Rethink your drink’ and choose calorie free beverages such as water, unless you have been active for 60 minutes or longer and need a sports beverage. Sodas contain concentrated sugar and excessive consumption is bad for our health. Drinking one soda a week is okay, but we want to avoid drinking soda every day. Sweet teas and sweetened coffee beverages are similar to soda.
Choose to drink water, milk, unsweetened coffee or tea, or watered down 100% juice (half water, half 100% juice) instead of soda for better nutrition! Of note, white milk contains natural sugar which is different than added sugar. Chocolate milk does contain added sugar, but the overall nutrition of the milk (protein, calcium, vitamin D, potassium) outweighs the added sugar, especially for teens and athletes. Choosing healthier beverages can help you stay healthy now and into adulthood.
When it comes to salty snacks and sweet treats, these foods can still be part of a balanced diet as long as we consume appropriate portion sizes and in moderation. In nutrition, moderation is best defined with the 80/20 rule. 80% of the time choose healthy, nutritious foods and the other 20% of the time, you can enjoy foods that are not so healthy such as chips, cookies, and ice cream. Be sure to look at the Nutrition Facts Panel on the food item and eat the recommended ‘serving size’.
For athletes, during their seasons, following a stricter, more nutritious diet can help achieve goals and improve performance. Following more of a 90/10 rule can be appropriate for many athletes. (90/10 Rule: 90% of the time, choose nutrient dense foods; 10% of the time, less nutrient dense foods are okay to enjoy) Deprivation leads to temptation, so still allowing a small amount of salty snacks and sweet treats is better than restricting, which often leads to overeating. During off-seasons, remember moderation and the 80/20 rule so all foods can be enjoyed while still maintaining overall health.
Half of our plates should be filled with fruits and veggies, a quarter should be filled with grains, and the last quarter should be filled with protein. Common protein foods include beef, pork, chicken and turkey, and fish; but don’t forget about plant-based sources of protein including nuts, seeds, beans, and legumes such as lentils! Plant-based proteins not only contain protein, but also fiber which supports overall health! One serving of protein should be about the size of the palm of your hand. There is a limit to how much protein your body can absorb so more is not always better!
Dairy foods also double as a protein! Milk, yogurt, and cheese are their own ‘dairy’ group since they contain calcium which is an important nutrient since many do not consume the recommended amounts.
Protein is important for everyone at every age, but is especially important for young athletes. Always include a protein food with each meal and snack. Athletes also want to consume protein within an hour or so after strenuous or strength training activities. Chocolate milk has the preferred ratio of carbs to protein that promotes muscle recovery; if you need a quick protein option after a game or practice, think: chocolate milk.
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While half of our plates should be filled with fruits and veggies, one quarter should be filled with grains. When it comes to choosing grains, there are two kinds – refined grains and whole grains. Refined grains are highly processed and include white bread, traditional pastas, and white rice. Whole grains include whole wheat bread, whole grain pasta, brown rice, and oats. When selecting grains, the only way to know if something is a whole grain is to look at the ingredient list. If a product is whole grain, the first ingredient will be ‘100% whole —‘ or ‘whole —‘.
Half of the grains we eat should be whole grains. Whole grains are less processed and contain more fiber which is important for overall health including heart health, gut health, and weight management. For athletes, whole grains also provide complex carbohydrates which provides lasting energy for practices and games. Most likely, the grains served at school are whole grain. A good approach is to enjoy whole grains at home and refined grains when dining out since whole grains are not commonly served in restaurants.
When planning your meals and snacks, remember to ‘Have a Plant’ by including fruits and veggies! Fruits and veggies come in a variety of rich colors and contain: vitamins, minerals, fiber, and healthy carbohydrates to help fuel our bodies during practice and games. We want to choose a wide variety of colored fruits and veggies for the best health. If you had peaches at breakfast, choose broccoli or cauliflower and strawberries or blueberries at lunch. Fruits and vegetables help us to maintain a healthy weight, reduce the risk of diet related chronic diseases, and even puts us in better moods. Be sure to fill half of your plates with fruits and veggies now and throughout the year to be at your best!
Whether you are looking for post workout nourishment or a quick meal, a protein shake or bar can be an excellent option. When choosing a shake or bar, 20 to 30 grams of protein is perfect. There is actually a limit to how much protein the body can absorb in one setting, so options with greater than 30 grams are not necessarily better for you. Conveniently, many protein shakes and bars contain 20 grams of protein, which is perfect, especially if you consume regular meals and snacks! If you are using the protein shake or bar as a meal replacement, look for an option that is fortified with vitamins and minerals such as Muscle Milk ready-to-drink protein shakes and Muscle Milk protein powder or Clif Builder’s Bar or Met RX bar, all available at your local Family Fare!
To feel your best while being physically active, avoid eating high fat and/or higher fiber foods prior to workouts, practice, or games. Fat and fiber take longer to digest which may lead to stomach aches during physical activity if consumed right before the activity. If you are looking for a snack before your activity, opt for a higher carbohydrate containing food such as fresh fruit, Our Family canned fruit, or Our Family frozen fruit. If you need a little more nutrition to help keep you fueled, a lean protein such as Our Family string cheese or Our Family deli meat are good options.