We are almost to March, which means many of you are about to start the spring season (either in competition if you are a high school/college athlete or in training if you have spring/summer races planned). You have waited all winter to get to this point. You are determined this will be your best year yet. But little do you know, you may be making huge mistakes with your nutrition that will cost you big come game/race-day. Looking to ruin your season? Try this............
1. Don't eat breakfast
Breakfast is the most important meal for athletes. It re-plenishes muscles after an overnight fast. It also gets muscles ready to work that day - regardless of what time your training session(s) will be. Skipping breakfast forces the body to pull from other stores - often times this means breaking down muscle. Have an early-morning workout and think skipping breakfast is okay? Think again. You might as well skip the workout and keep sleeping. Not a breakfast eater typically? Start small - Greek yogurt, bagel with peanut butter, or a piece of fruit....and work up from there. Anything is better than nothing.
2. Don't sleep
Sleep is probably one of the most important things you will do over the course of 24 hours. Sleep is when your body repairs, replenishes and builds. In addition, the longer you are awake, the more opportunities to eat, which can mean too many calories coming on board. Trying to drop fat or gain muscle? Hoping to improve recovery and relieve soreness? Wanting to prevent illness and injury? Looking for more energy during the day or during training? Aim to get at least 7-9 hours of sleep on average to help that happen.
3. Don't eat any fruits and vegetables
No one likes them anyway, right? And you burn so many calories, you can eat whatever you want, right? WRONG. While getting enough calories is important, it's about quality within that quantity. Fruits and vegetables are essential to athletes. They contain vitamins and minerals that help with recovery of tired, sore muscles as well as metabolism of every type of food you eat. In addition, they help hydrate the body. Dehydration is the number one cause of nutrition-related performance deficit. Write down everything you eat for a day or two. Count the number of times you eat fruits or veggies. If it is less than 5, you have work to do. Five servings is the minimum, so get munching.
4. Don't worry about what you eat until the night before you compete
Ah - the pre-competition pasta dinner. The perfect start to a perfect game. While this may be true, that should not be the start of your performance nutrition. It is not just about what you eat the night before, but also the days, weeks and months before. So start assessing your intake now. Meet with a sports RD who can help you meet your athletic goals. Don't waste precious time by not helping your body train (and eventually compete) the way you want it to.