Nutrition and hydration demands of baseball and softball players are quite unique. Like many sports, position being played matters. However, many other variables specific to baseball/softball can affect performance nutrition requirements. Here are 3 nutrition tips to assure you don't strike out at the plate.
1. Hydration starts before you step on the field.
In this game, hydration status can be affected by temperature, humidity, travel, game delays, and actual amount of time spent playing. Start hydrating as soon as your feet hit the floor in the morning - put a glass of water next to your bed if that helps. At meals, include foods high in water content (think fruit!). During games, water may not be enough. Innings can last for many minutes, resulting in increased sweating while standing in the open sun. Add some flavored electrolytes (try Nuun tablets) to your water if you sweat enough to have salt crystals on your skin or leave a yellow ring around the neck of your jersey. This is especially important if you are prone to muscle cramping.
2. Assess those dug-out snacks.
While it is important to have snacks available in the dug-out for replenishing energy, take a close look at what you currently choose. While sunflower seeds are a popular dug-out pasttime, they contain little carb, which is important fast energy for your muscles and brain. This means better focus and reaction time out on the field. Add some dried fruit to those sunflower seeds to get the necessary carb you need. Also, while salty snacks such as potato chips or Cheetos may replenish sodium lost in sweat, they are high in fat and low in nutrients. Fat sits heavy in your stomach and prevents fuel from quickly reaching muscles; this can make you sluggish out on the field. Some great dug-out snacks include peanut butter crackers, granola bars, energy bars (NOT ultra high protein bars), bananas, any other kind of trail mix combination, water, and Gatorade. Be careful choosing trail mix or granola bars with chocolate, which can melt and be messy in the heat.
3. You're not done when the game ends.
After your body plays nine innings, muscles are more than ready for a good post-game meal. Even with snacking during games, refueling within an hour after the game finishes should be your number one concern. As soon as possible, eat an actual meal, consisting of 1/4 plate of each: carbs, protein, fruit, and veggies. If you can get home within an hour, smoothies are a great option, as they both replenish fuel and hydrate. Make sure your smoothies include milk or juice + fruit + spinach (you won't taste it) + tofu or protein powder (EAS is a good protein powder brand). Additional add-ins might be include ground flaxseed, nut butter, honey or agave nectar.