Updated: October 8th, 2014
The nutritional approach of an athlete’s lifestyle is arguably the most overlooked aspect when it comes to reaching your true potential. Nutrition governs everything. What you eat determines everything from your mood, energy levels, motivation, drive, your ability to build muscle and lose fat, hormone levels, training capacity, where your body is deriving its energy from, your ability to fight off sickness, the list goes on and on. Which gives you every reason in the world to focus more on proper athletic nutrition.
The average trainer puts too much of an emphasis on training and too little of an emphasis on nutrition. Do this math:
1 / 24 = 0.04
The average training session last one hour. This means training comprises only 4% of your day! The other 96% of your day is completely governed by nutrition and sleep. You tell me where the real results are coming from?
Many athletes have been made in the kitchen and every athlete who has decided to take nutrition seriously (and properly) will tell you no different. Nutrition can drastically increase performance on the ice and in the gym. But it doesn’t stop there. It will increase your recovery from activity, energy during day-to-day tasks, improve focus to positively affect your grades and attentiveness in school or work. You name it, nutrition can help.
The problem is what most people feel is “healthy eating”, usually isn’t. The majority of what can be found in a package at any grocery store is more often than not bad for your physiology. On top of the poor food selection we have, many people don’t make the connection that; Eating healthy, doesn’t mean you are eating towards your goals. Nutrition is a science so you should be following a meal plan that can scientifically support your goal that you want to accomplish.
In-season, we want to maintain and build upon what we earned in the off-season while having the energy to improve performance on the ice. With this mentality, going higher with protein and healthy fats while keeping carbohydrates at properly timed areas is the best approach.
Carbohydrates will mainly come pre and post workout for optimal performance, while throughout the day our meals mainly comprise of proteins, healthy fats and a wide variety of vegetables. Eating this way will keep you lean but yet not take away from additional progress or recovery.
As a general approach, we are after 1.5 – 2g of protein per pound of body weight every day and when that number is defined we use about half that to determine your fat intake. Carbohydrates are added accordingly based on body type and overall in-season needs. If you’re looking for more weight gain, add more carbohydrates, if you’re looking to stay very lean and are happy with your current size, keep carbohydrates exclusively to pre and post workout or game day nutrition.
It should be noted that I am making general recommendations for a very large audience. As all of you know everybody is different and everybody responds differently to food intake. In my experience working with clientele I find this approach to work with a very high percentage of the population, very few people slip through the cracks. But those who do need to individualize their own approach based on what their bodies have told them in the past, try and remember what were you eating when you were making the best progress, feeling the best, sleeping the best, etc. Also slight variations may be made to suit your schedule a little more. Having said that, the meals are put in a certain order and in a certain quantity for a reason, so the closer you can stay to the plan, the better off you will be.
Food can make or break an athlete depending on their current habits and what they perceive is healthy. Many people do not know how good the human body is actually designed to feel because they have never taken the time to structure their eating towards their goals and lifestyle. When I was a lot younger I thought supplements were phenomenal. I took so much time researching and taking so many different supplements that I didn’t focus enough of food.
Supplements are called supplements because they supplement your diet. That is all. They fill voids in nutrition that you are not currently taking in and in certain areas we can take them for performance enhancement.
But in the big picture of importance, food is so far ahead of supplementation it’s ridiculous. Don’t get me wrong supplementation can and does have its place in a well-designed performance nutrition system and there are good supplements out there, but there are a lot more useless ones.
What I’m trying to get across is if you’re a younger guy, don’t make the same mistake I did and overlook the importance of food. You’ll be putting yourself ahead of the competition in a hurry.