During training season, you have the opportunity to gain speed and strength—and hopefully a starting spot. Unfortunately, you also have a risk of getting hurt, coming down sick or losing muscle.
It takes fuel to power your body though two-a-day practices. You lose a lot of carbohydrates, fluid and protein. Replenishing these nutrients in your body is essential for success. What you pick up at the grocery store will help you come out of training camp on top.
The average athlete burns up to a gram of carbs per minute of continuous intense exercise. This means that for every hour of intense training, you burn two to four slices of bread, 1/2 to a cup of oatmeal, or 1 or 2 cups of beans.
How many hours of training are you doing? Eat enough of these high-carbohydrate foods to keep you going.
- Whole wheat bread and pasta
- Whole grain cereal or granola
- Brown rice and wild rice
- Sweet potatoes, white potatoes, squash
- Fresh, dried and frozen fruit
For every hour of training, you lose .3 to 2.4 liters of fluid. If you sweat a lot, you lose even more. This makes it hard for your heart to circulate blood, oxygen and nutrients. Dehydration also dramatically increases your risk for heat illnesses.
J.J. Watt, last year’s NFL Defensive Player of the Year, told the New York Times recently that staying hydrated is “an all-day thing. It’s before practice. It’s during practice. It’s after practice. It’s a full-time job . . . but it’s what keeps me at my best.”
Here are some things to pick up at the store to make sure you stay hydrated:
- Large water bottles
- Lemons, cucumbers and limes for flavoring water
- Sports drinks
- Fruit, yogurt, etc. to make smoothies
- 100% juice drinks
- Broth-based soups
- Juicy fruits and vegetables
You burn protein during exercise. Your goal is to keep the amount as small as possible by eating carbohydrates before each training session. That way, more protein will go toward building muscle, repairing injured tissues and keeping your immune system strong.
Protein is essential to proper recovery from exercise. If you do not get enough protein, you may not realize the full performance benefits of your training. The following protein sources should be staples in your grocery cart:
- Lean meats (chicken breast, turkey, 90% lean ground beef)
- Fish (including canned salmon and tuna packed in water)
- Low-fat dairy products such as milk, yogurt and cottage cheese
- Nuts and seeds (including peanut, almond and other nut butters)
For personalized two-a-day and training camp nutrition information, contact a sports dietitian in your area.