5 Nutritional Mistakes Athletes Make

1. Skipping Breakfast

We talk about breakfast all the time. It is important for health (studies show that people who don’t eat breakfast are 5 times more likely to be obese than those who do), but we emphasize breakfast because it helps performance. Some athletes choose to skip breakfast due to a lack of time in the morning or in a bid to cut calories from their diet. If an athlete is training in the morning, it’s important they fuel correctly as they may nothave eaten for 8-10 hours. Breakfast should contain some low glycemic carbohydrates, quality protein and some fluid. Great examples are :

  •  Cereal (Shredded Wheat, All Bran, Oat Bran, Muesli, any type of low sugar cereal) with low fat milk

  •  Greek yogurt with cinnamon, nuts and berries

  •  Fruit smoothies made with berries, flaxseed, yogurt and milk

  •  Pita bread with scrambled eggs and tomato

  •  Toast with peanut butter or French toast (whole wheat or seeded bread). Look at

    ingredients and find bread without high fructose corn syrup (HFCS).

  •  Scrambled eggs with anything

2. Eating at the Wrong Time

To optimize training, enhance recovery and maintain body composition targets, eating at the correct times around training is one of the most important requirements. Fueling the body with sufficient macronutrients prior to training allows athletes to train harder and feel less fatigued.

Think ahead and make sure you have a 200-300 snack consisting of protein and carbohydrate approximately 30 minutes to an hour before your training session. This means sometimes eating a snack during the last period of the day since many practices are right after school.

After a training session, athletes should consume some protein with carbohydrate as soon as possible to maximize training adaptations. Current recommendations are to eat some protein with carbs within the hour after your cool down starts (think ahead so you will have something ready – it doesn’t have to be a lot but we would prefer at least 20 grams of protein for the post-workout snack)

3. Replacing Real Foods with Sports Supplements

Everyone should strive to eat a diet containing quality protein, complex carbohydrates and plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables. An athlete should always choose real foods over sports supplements such as protein shakes and energy bars where possible. Only whenan athlete hasn’t got access to the right foods to meet their nutritional goals, should theyuse sports supplements. Sports supplements should be selected carefully and the athlete should be aware of exactly why they are using them within their nutrition strategy. It is one thing to have one before or right after practice but try not to have them all the time for breakfast, lunch, and never for dinner. Eat real food!!!

4. Drinking Insufficient Amounts of Fluid

A lot has been said recently about the guidelines around drinking during exercise. The debate exists around the belief that thirst is an insufficient measure of hydration status. What shouldn’t be forgotten is that severe dehydration can be very dangerous to health, let alone performance. Athletes should aim to drink 80 ounces of fluid every day (this does not include the fluid they need to drink to replace sweat losses during exercise). Ensuring you are well hydrated throughout the day reduces levels of circulating stress hormones, improves concentration and reduces feelings of fatigue. One of the little known elements of low level dehydration is a headache. Many people feel that the poor dietary habits of athletes today can prolong one of the symptoms of a concussion which is the headache. So bottom-line, if you want to decrease the length of a concussion, one item that will assist this is proper hydration levels.

5. Seeking a Quick Fix Solution

Athletes are no different from everyone else when it comes to wanting a quick fix solution to their body composition goals. Utilizing inappropriate sources of informationto find the latest ‘magic formula’ for success is a real problem and can lead to a drop in performance. Athletes should always seek the advice of a qualified medical practitioner with the necessary experience to deal with their needs. Ultimately, any change in body composition takes hard work and dedication over a prolonged period of time. Creating a plan and sticking with the plan is the right method. Unless you are eating 5 times a day, obtaining adequate protein, consuming enough vegetables, eating at the right times and the right amounts, we don’t want athletes even considering “GNC” or Body Builder type resources for body composition ideas. Again talk with a medical professional before you consider any of these “short cuts”