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You may be too young to recall the vastly popular “This Is Your Brain on Drugs” commercial, in which a man cracks an egg into a pan to demonstrate the frying effect of drugs on the human brain. For the team here at STACK, a blog entry from the experts at Major League Strength (“Behind the Scenes Culprit of Declined Performance in Collegiate Athletics”) evoked memories of that 1980s anti-drug PSA.
The ML Strength post contends that poor performance among collegiate and high school athletes is due primarily to poor nutritional habits. The post goes into great detail, so we’ll offer a condensed version below.
Strength training and practice sessions improve an athlete’s performance—e.g., in speed, strength and sport-specific skills. However, the ability to contract a muscle finally depends on the central nervous system, which consists of the brain and spinal column.
Simply put, your brain powers all movement. A sound mind paired with a trained body allows you to effectively and efficiently contract your muscles.
Just as consuming the proper amount of carbs provides energy for your body, a nutrient-rich diet powers your brain. However, if “non-nutrient dense foods are consumed, this will yield less energy to perform” muscle contraction, “leading to induced muscular performance,” which in turn causes poor movement patterns.
Worse, poor nutritional habits affect cognitive ability, or the brain’s ability to process thought, which also results in lackluster movement patterns and less-than-stellar performance.
Long story short, poor nutritional choices impair the central nervous system, causing poor muscle action and uncoordinated movement patterns.
So while your efforts in the gym certainly help, it is your brain that ultimately controls how fast, powerful and explosive you are on any given day.
Take control of your brain with proper nutrition. Start by checking the links below:
Nine Eating Essentials
Balancing Your Training Diet
Boost Energy With Breakfast
Breakfast Before Bed
Seven Foods for Top Performance