Think putting down Mickey D’s or Taco Bell on a regular basis won’t affect your game day performance? Think again—and take some hints from San Diego Chargers’ linebacker Shaun Phillips. Here, he shares nutrition advice to help you perform at your peak.
“I didn’t notice this until I got [to] the NFL, but the things you eat affect you as the course of the week goes on,” says Phillips. “So, you only want to put good things in your body.”
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For Phillips, that includes healthy protein and carbs, not fried, greasy foods, which can weigh you down. “Your body’s your temple, and you’re responsible for what you put in it,” he says. And if you’re good to your body, it will return the favor.
“It’s unbelievable how much energy you find yourself having on Sunday [when you eat healthy] as opposed [to eating] McDonalds all week. You feel healthy, and sometimes if you feel healthier, that’s all that matters,” Phillips says.
Feeling healthy goes beyond what an athlete eats. Phillips also focuses on hydrating adequately—and not just because of the warm San Diego weather. His reason: dehydration can make your muscles cramp and strain, taking you out of the game and jeopardizing your team’s success.
“A lot of people try to hydrate the night before the game, [but] you can’t just hydrate the night before the game,” Phillips explains. “Hydration starts at the beginning of the week.”
No stranger to pulling muscles in games due to dehydration, the Chargers’ go-to defensive guy, who racked up 68 tackles during the ’07 regular season, suggests that all athletes drink a gallon of water every day, regardless of whether your next game is tomorrow, or 10 days away.
“Hydration’s probably more important than the eating factor, because your body shuts down if it doesn’t have water,” Phillips says.
To ensure that your body is ready to shut down opponents on game day, fill up on Phillips nutrition advice:
• Consume protein and good carbs to help with muscle recovery
• Avoid fatty and greasy foods; choose grilled and baked items
• Go for healthy snacks, like yogurt and wheat crackers, and eat small portions
• Drink at least 32 ounces of water every day
• Avoid drinks with sugar and caffeine, which can make you sluggish