Nutrition Plan for Volleyball

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Your training plan involves intense, short-burst workouts and drills. Focusing your fueling on these four tips will make for successful training sessions.

Tip 1: Start the night before. Prepare for Monday training sessions by fueling up with a carbohydrate-rich dinner Sunday night. Your body needs adequate carbs to produce glycogen, which your cells can store to prevent an excessive drop in blood sugar during training.

Sixty to 70 percent of your dinner plate should be loaded with carb-dense foods. Choose grains such as pasta, bread, rice, quinoa, couscous or corn. Dairy products like cottage cheese, regular cheese or a glass of skim milk can add 12 or more grams of carbohydrates. Other excellent sources include sweet or white potatoes, carrots, fruit juice or a salad with garbanzo beans and dried cranberries. Before bed, snack on fruit; a banana can add another 27 grams of carbohydrates.

Tip 2: Eat and drink right when you awake. Drills and workouts designed to stimulate fast twitch muscle fibers require fuel that can be delivered at a rate that muscle cells demand. Choose liquid and solid carbohydrates. They raise your blood glucose levels in preparation for warm-ups. An immediate source of sugar in your blood saves glycogen for use during the dynamic preparation, flexibility and mobility drills.

Start your morning training having eaten two to three carb-rich foods such as cereal, fruit, juice, yogurt, milk, bread, crackers and peanut butter, a sport bar or a sport drink. Include small amounts of fat and protein in your breakfast to slow digestion and leave you feeling full a bit longer.

Tip 3: Gulp fluids with carbs. Sweating cools your body's core temperature while you're training hard. Gulping fluids often replaces lost body water faster than sipping periodically during a workout. So at every break in training, guzzle as much as you comfortably can.

Choose a sport drink to optimize hydration. It contains water and electrolytes (e.g., sodium, potassium, chloride), which are lost through sweat. Sports drinks also have carbs, which are a fast energy source for muscles. In fact, carbs fuel 80 to 90 percent of all muscle work, releasing energy to muscle cells six times faster than fat or protein. Essentially, carbs prevent fatigue by elevating blood glucose, decreasing the risk of energy drain.

Tip 4: Eat and drink as soon as you can. To recover from intense training, eat a meal that includes carbohydrates, protein and fluids immediately after exercise, as these nutrients speed recovery. Carbs stimulate the reformation of glycogen, which takes 20 to 24 hours to be completely replaced in your body. Muscle cells crave amino acids after working out, so opt for protein; this nutrient heals damage caused by intense training and promotes the growth of muscle cells.

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