Archive for Sports Nutrition

Life in Color

You could call fruits and vegetables the superheroes of the food world. They fight off that pesky extra weight and protect our immune system and bone health. Fruits and veggies are high in both water and fiber and help cleanse the body of unwanted cholesterol. It also turns out that each color of fruits and vegetables have distinct benefits to the body. So when building your next plate, try to integrate as many colors of the rainbow as possible:

Reds are great for heart health, which is easy to remember. Tomatoes, apples, and watermelons are great examples. 

Oranges and Yellows support the immune system and also help eye health. Some examples are oranges, carrots and bananas.

Greens help prevent cancer and improve bone health. Eat some spinach, kale, kiwis and avocados.

Blues and Purples offer antioxidants that help with memory function and disease prevention. Examples include blueberries, grapes and blackberries.

 

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Want more energy? Do this

Busy schedules that include work, kids, appointments, workouts and much more can seem to zap energy right out of us. So what is the key to starting your day off with an adequate amount of energy? Look no further than the most important meal of the day.

After a good night’s sleep (equally as important to having energy) you lose glycogen levels. In fact, you normally wake up with a level around 40-60%. Glycogen equates to energy, so in essence you only have half the energy you normally do after waking up. Eating breakfast is extremely important; here’s how to make sure it’ll work.

Carbohydrates

The first ingredient you’ll want in your breakfast is carbs. Carbs are quick-burning, giving you an immediate boost. Items such as oatmeal, whole grain waffles or cereal and English muffins or whole wheat toast will give you that quick energy boost. Don’t neglect carbs when it comes to starting your day.

Protein

To compliment the carbs in your breakfast, you’ll want to pack some protein in there as well. Unlike carbs, proteins are slow-burning and give you lasting energy throughout most of the day. Without protein, your breakfast energy won’t last long. Grab some nuts, make some eggs and eat some Greek yogurt or peanut butter to get the protein you’ll need.

 

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How do I Stop a Plateau?

It is one of the most frustrating things in the world to feel as if you are stuck at a certain point in athletics; when you can’t improve upon a race time, your vertical jump height doesn’t increase, or you’re not able to add more weight to your back squat.  This phenomenon is commonly referred to as a plateau, and a suggestion that has frequently surfaced to remedy the situation is a “never-do-the-same-workout-twice” strategy.  This strategy, often called “muscle confusion,” involves doing many different types of training to keep your body guessing and “confuse” your muscles into continued growth.  What people who follow this type of training often fail to realize is that our muscles receive orders from the brain and are not independent structures that become bored and stop producing results after a few weeks.  We have to be smart with our training, the stressors on our body, and the stimuli that we send to our muscles.  If we are constantly switching things up in a weight training program, our bodies will not have time to adapt and improve.  So, how do we prevent a decline in performance?  How long should we actually be performing exercises before we switch things up?  If you have ever wondered about plateaus, here are a few ways to make sure that you are maximizing your training and seeing results consistently over time.

Work with a Certified Strength & Conditioning Coach

One of the biggest benefits of a proper strength & conditioning facility is that you have a coach who programs based on your individual needs.  This should involve periodized strength & conditioning programming that involves a build without plateau, peaks for when you need them, and monitoring/adjustment of programming as needed.  Knowing which exercises to perform, how many sets and reps you should do, and how often these variables should change is extremely important in training.  Because of the importance and complexity involved in strength & conditioning programming, having a qualified professional to guide you is imperative to long-term athletic success.

Become great at the basics

You do not need as much variety in training as you think.  If you consider how you train in sport, it involves repeating the important skills over and over again in practice to perfect your technique.   To a certain extent, this same concept needs to be applied in strength training.  Your body must learn to efficiently and safely move through basic movement patterns: squat, lunge, hinge, push, pull, and rotate.  There are many different variations of exercises that fall into these basic categories, but it is important to master the basics and allow adaptations to occur before progressing to a more complex version of an exercise.  You need a solid foundation for sport, and your exercises in the weight room should be selected based on function and usefulness to you as an individual, and not on the complexity or attractiveness of the movement.

Protect your body from injury

Training should be pain-free and should include movements that help protect against future injury.   This includes: performing a warm-up that will prepare you for movement and is specific to your movement deficiencies, including soft-tissue work into your daily routine, ensuring that areas of the body that are supposed to be mobile are, ensuring that areas of the body that are supposed to be stabile are, etc.  Your Certified Strength & Conditioning Coach will help you identify where the “leaks” in your system are and prescribe movement patterns that will increase your efficiency as an athlete and prepare you for the demands of life and sport.  Preparedness is the key to injury prevention!

Train as an individual

Not everyone should be doing the same warm-up or strength training exercises, just like not every athlete will need to work on the same sport skill for the same amount of time as everyone else on the team.  Your body is unique, your training needs are different, and what works for someone else will not necessarily work for you.  For these reasons, it is important to listen to your body, perform the exercises that work for your anatomy and training needs, and learn what works to make YOU better.  The movements you perform do not need to rigidly follow a universal model of training or even be “sport-specific.”  They must be specific to you and need to be intentionally placed within your programming.  Within the confines of energy, time, etc., it is important to be intentional with training to optimize opportunity for improvement.

Rest, eat properly, and hydrate

Maximizing your athletic potential involves making smart decisions both on and off the field/court/etc.  You need to make sure that you’re drinking enough water, fueling your body with the proper nutrition, and sleeping/resting enough.  While some may struggle with consistency and drive, others find themselves losing momentum because they are doing too much.  Non-stop training, or training that isn’t done well, will eventually wear on you regardless of how accomplished you feel.  Not only will you feel the physical effects of overtraining, but the mental effects as well.  It is important to establish healthy habits early to set yourself up for success.  The sooner you start, the sooner you will be able to reap the benefits.

In conclusion, “muscle confusion,” is not the answer to avoiding plateau.  It is possible for your improvement to waver, but it is NOT possible to confuse your muscles into avoiding the drop.  Your body will need to slow down or stop during your athletic career, but there are steps you can take to manage your health and prevent a decline in performance.  Focus on the things that you can control and reach out to qualified professionals for the answers that you don’t have.  Have you experienced a plateau before?  Are you wondering what you can do to try to prevent one?  Contact us and let us know how we can help!

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NFL Nutrition: 6000 Calorie Meal Plan

Training for the NFL is no small task, a process that requires dozens of workouts and massive amounts of food. Our NFL Combine trainees just finished their eight week program, and now it’s time to prove themselves as contenders at the next level. In order to get to this point, however, they endured 88 grueling workouts and ate 3,000-6,000 calories a day. Think you could eat 6,000 calories a day? See for yourself:

Breakfast:

-5 scrambled eggs with 1/4 cup shredded cheese and 1 cup spinach

-3 cups oatmeal with 1 cup berries

-1 cup fruit juice

Mid-Morning Snack:

-2 slices whole wheat bread with 3 tbsp peanut butter and 2 tbsp jelly

-1 large apple

-30g protein shake

Lunch:

-1 large tortilla filled with 1 cup rice, 6 oz chicken, 1/2 cup beans, 1/4 cup shredded cheese, 2 cups lettuce and salsa

-1 apple

-1 banana

-12 oz water

Mid-Afternoon Snack:

-1 smoothie with 12 oz rockin refuel vanilla, 1 frozen banana, 1 cup spinach, 3 tbsp peanut butter, 2 tsp cinnamon and 1 apple sauce squeeze pouch

-10 peanut butter filled pretzels

Dinner:

-1 apple

-1 cup of berries

-1 cup zucchini

-3 cups brown rice

-8 oz chicken breast

-12 oz water

Midnight Snack:

-1 rockin refuel

-1 cliff bar

-4 clementines

-skinny pop (100 calorie bag)

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NFL Nutrition: What the Guys Are Learning

Breakfast at the hotel. Snack on the turf. Lunch. Recovery snack. Dinner. Night snack. This is a normal day of eating for the guys participating in the 2017 EXOS NFL Combine prep program. Each player has individual goals for their eight week stay in Indy and is committed and involved in their nutrition plan.

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“Tell me your numbers” can be heard as the guys discuss how many servings of protein, carbohydrates, fruits and veggies are recommended per meal. Snack bags for their three daily snacks are provided, and a night snack is packed for once they leave the training facility.

Before they were sent off with serving recommendations, portion sizes were taught by Lindsey Langford, MS, RD, CSSD and Anna Turner, MS, RD, CSSD, the sports dietitians that have organized the eating schedule that each player participates in. Twice a week, nutrition education meetings take place covering topics from how to build a recovery snack to how athletic performance suffers from alcohol consumption. Each guy is heavily involved in their personal nutrition plan, and every meal they make decisions to positively impact their performance on the field.

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Former Michigan offensive lineman Ben Braden says the biggest change for him is just the sheer amount of food that he is eating. When you are training as long as and as hard as these athletes are, every meal is either helping facilitate recovery or helping fuel the next workout. The importance of building a balanced plate at each meal is something fellow offensive lineman Mark Spelman says has helped him maintain his energy levels throughout the long days of training. He also understands the importance of pairing what he eats with maximizing performance. Carbohydrates play a vital role in providing immediate energy for athletes, and Marian wide receiver Krishawn Hogan says his biggest take away so far is how important carbohydrates are for performance. He feels like he has more energy, even during hard training sessions, because he has incorporated more carbs into his diet.

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NFL Combine Training: Week One

As SVSP strength and conditioning coach Greg Moore would say, “you can’t rush the process”. The journey for our NFL hopefuls is now a week old, and the process has just begun.

Week one was filled with introductions, assessments, meetings and of course, workouts.

Grand Park offers space to do movement and football workouts

Grand Park offers space to do movement and football workouts

 

First item on the agenda: movement screens

First item on the agenda: movement screens

 

Our athletes will never be dehydrated

Our athletes will never be dehydrated

 

Recovery provided by Rockin Refuel!

Recovery provided by Rockin Refuel!

 

Running into week two like...

Running into week two like…

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How Much Protein Do You Need?

Walk down almost any isle in the grocery store and you’ll see bold or italic letters on products with a common word: protein. Products want you to know that their stuff has more of it now, whether it’s 10 grams, 12 grams, or 20 grams per serving. So, how much do you actually need? Before that question is answered, let’s talk about the benefits of protein.

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Why You Need It

Protein not only produces energy, but it builds and maintains muscle mass as well. Getting adequate protein on a daily basis is a must if you’re trying to build muscle or actively trying to burn fat. Protein also reduces the excess carbohydrates that we take in with processed foods. Protein packs a punch, so make sure you’re getting enough.

How Much You Need

As great as protein is, your body can only absorb a certain amount for proper use. The maximum amount of protein you can consume daily is around one gram per pound of body weight. If you weigh 160 pounds, that’s 160 grams per day.

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The best way to consume protein is in smaller, more frequent ways throughout your day. Getting 20-40 grams five or six times during your day is better than gorging yourself for dinner. In fact, breakfast and bedtime are crucial times to get protein in your system. Whether it’s a shake or snack, lean protein in the morning and before bed go a long way in building and maintaining muscle mass.

 

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Why Are Fruits and Vegetables Good For You?

Eat your fruits and vegetables. It’s a common piece of advice, but have you ever wondered why? There are two main reasons why fruits and veggies pack a powerful punch for athletes in particular.

Water

Both fruits and vegetables are incredibly high in water. Not only does this help with hydration, but water is helpful with weight management. Water fills us up and thus leads to less overeating.

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Fiber

Fiber does much of the same. Fiber acts as little sponges that expand and cause a full feeling. It also helps lower cholesterol by filtering veins and arteries, cleaning out the waste. Fruits and veggies both have high fiber levels.

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The water and fiber combination in fruits and vegetables is powerful and fills you up quickly. The color in these foods also add antioxidants, help with immune system strength and improve bone health.

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Got Milk?

Milk and chocolate milk have been getting increased attention as go-to recovery beverages of choice for athletes, but are they really as great as so many people believe?  The answer is YES!  The follow-up question then, is why is milk so great? To answer that, we have to talk about the three R’s of recovery: Refuel, Rehydrate, and Repair.

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Refuel:  During a workout, our muscles primarily use carbohydrates (stored in our bodies as glycogen) as a fuel source.  Well, just like gas for a car, as you work, those fuel stores get burned leaving you on empty at the end of a workout.  In order to recover quickly, you have to refuel/refill the tank with carbs, and milk, especially chocolate milk is a great source of carbs.

 

Rehydrate:  It is essential to replace the fluids and electrolytes (primarily sodium) lost via sweat post-exercise.  Milk not only helps replace the fluid lost, but, because it contains about 150mg/cup of sodium, it can help replace some of the electrolytes lost in your sweat too!

 

Repair: Intense, long workouts break down muscle; in order to repair muscle, you need protein.  Milk is an excellent source of high quality protein needed to repair and rebuild muscle.  In fact, research has shown that consuming protein and carbs (both contained in milk) immediately post workout leads to a six times greater rate of protein synthesis vs. waiting 3 hours to refuel.

 

Milk not only covers the three R’s of recovery, but it’s also packed with other vitamins and minerals essential to your everyday health, most notable are calcium and vitamin D, both essential to bone health.  So next time you are looking for a post workout recovery option, go for a tall glass of milk.

 

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What Bacteria? Gut Bacteria!

What exactly does bacteria in your gut have to do with health? Well, let’s start with the basics; everyone has their own gut microbiota, a population of bacteria residing in the intestine. The microbiota is made up of tens of trillions of microorganisms and is unique to each individual. Regardless of which bacteria populate your gut, those teeny tiny organisms all fulfill the same physiological function, which has a direct impact on your health.  So where did these bacteria come from, and what determines which bacteria you get? It all begins with your mother.  As a newborn, your digestive tract is quickly colonized by microorganisms from your mom and affected by the environment in which you were born (the place, the air, materials present, etc.). The composition of your gut bacteria is directly dependent on how you were fed at an early age.  By age three, your gut microbiota is more stable and similar to that of most adults, but will continue to evolve throughout your life.

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Now that there’s a basic understanding of how your gut became filled with bacteria, let’s talk about how those bacteria impact your health.  First and foremost, these tiny organisms help to digest certain foods that the stomach and small intestine are not able to digest, such as dietary fibers. In doing so, your gut microbiota helps regulate your appetite, nutrient storage, and energy production.  The gut microbiota also helps produce micronutrients such as vitamins B and K, which are essential for energy production (vitamin B), blood coagulation (vitamin K), and bone health (vitamin K).  In addition, those tiny organisms pack a big punch when it comes to preventing and fighting off illness.  By helping to fight off bacterial pathogens and programing your immune system, your gut essentially creates a protective barrier to help you stay healthy!

 

There are ways to alter your gut microbiota, and believe it or not, the biggest changes can come from your diet.  It’s been shown that over eating and high fat diets have negative affects on your gut microbiota and therefore your overall health.  Consuming a well balanced diet that includes whole grains, lean proteins, low-fat dairy, and plenty of fruits and vegetables is the best way to ensure a healthy gut, which leads to a healthier you.

 

 

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