I recently began training middle school soccer players, as well as started studying for my Strength and Conditioning Certification. This experience has taken me back to my childhood and has made me realize that I had ABSOLUTELY ZERO KNOWLEDGE about nutrition or how to eat for my athletic goals. As evidenced by the athletes I coach today, It seems like I was not the only uninformed kiddo. That is why today I am discussing some of the mistakes I made with my diet, and simple fixes that not only parents can implement, but any exercise participant can incorporate as a means for making the most out of their fitness routine!
THE 2 BIGGEST NUTRITIONAL MISTAKES I MADE GROWING UP
1) My breakfast consisted of sugar flavored sugar
Pop Tarts, donuts, and sugar-coated breakfast cereals galore. The sad thing is, now that I am an adult *shutters*, I can’t help but say, PARENTS I FEEL FOR U, SEE U, and GET U. Who has time to slave away serving up a gourmet omelet station when you have to take Johnny to one school, Suzie to another and have Toddler Timmy attached to your hip the entire time? THE SUGAR-COATED SUGAR DISGUISED AS BREAKFAST MAKES SENSE. While my breakfast treat of choice alternated between S'mores Pop Tarts and Chocolate Chip Eggo Waffles, my mid morning hanger always panned out just the same. By third period I was breaking out my lunch box and passing out MORE EMPTY CALORIES around to my classmates. I was never satisfied with the sugar-laden snacks, and by the time I came home in the afternoon, I was completely famished. Now, busy moms, I get it. I only have to get myself out of bed in the morning, and I still don’t have time to cook up a full meal before I’m off to train my clients by 5:30 am. However, a protein packed and fiber-rich breakfast on the go IS POSSIBLE. Whether your child is headed off to school, fueling up for an early AM soccer practice, or perhaps we are talking about YOUR jam-packed morning here, preparing meals ahead of time can make this stomach ache go away! Here are some suggestions that moms, kids, students, and YOUR AVERAGE ADULT alike can eat on the go: -Hard-boiled eggs, turkey sausage, and a banana - DIY Frozen Breakfast Sandwiches! Fry an egg, add a piece of Canadian bacon and low-fat cheese, and wrap it in an English muffin. Make multiple at a time and freeze for later! - Protein Waffles (prepped in advance and cut up in squares to be eaten in the car) Spread a tablespoon of PB on them to minimize the messiness of syrup and to add a healthy dose of fats. - Greek yogurt parfait with a handful of blueberries and mixed nuts -Overnights oats with a cup of almond milk, a tablespoon of chia seeds and honey, cinnamon, and banana slices
2) Certain foods ARE NOT A GOOD IDEA before you train/ practice
You guys. I was the worst growing up. Fettuccini Alfredo. Fried Chicken. CHIPOTLE BURRITOS AND CULVERS FROZEN CUSTARD. 5 CAFETERIA COOKIES AND A PLATE FULL OF CINNAMON STICKS. I would wonder why I was writhing in pain laying on the floor after a dance rehearsal. Later in my college dance years, I had moments where I tried to counteract this problem by eating as little as a cup of carrots and turkey, or spinach and pineapple before 3 hours of dance class. Why did I see stars and feel light headed the whole time??? In reality, I now look back and wonder WHY DIDN’T ANYONE TEACH ME BETTER?? Why wasn’t proper nutrition emphasized- whether it was growing up in dance class, in my middle school soccer days, or in my college dance department... In short, regardless of the type of activity, here are the fundamentals of pretraining/ exercise nutrition: Pair easy to digest carbs with fast digesting protein 1-2 hours before activity.
Minimize your fat intake during this window. Fat (although essential for hormone and metabolic function in the diet) slows digestion and is what leads to the heaviness and fullness that will make you sick if consumed in excess before training.
Stick to foods that you know digest well (aka if you are sensitive to lactose, don’t consume dairy!) Fibrous veggies are great! But too many before activity is not the best way to make friends in the weight room!
I get asked quite often about pre-workout nutrition, so here are a few snacks that digest well and supply you with an adequate supply of energy.
-oatmeal cooked with egg whites, cinnamon, stevia, and a banana - white rice and chicken breast - rice cakes with pb2 -banana with pb2 Greek yogurt mixed with cinnamon and apple slices -protein PBJ (2 slices of bread with reduced sugar jelly and peanut butter flavored protein powder with water to create a glaze) - Half of a bagel with fat free cream cheese and turkey -protein smoothie made with almond milk, a frozen banana,cocoa powder, and a scoop of chocolate protein
The bottom line here is that I made a lot of mistakes growing up In regard to my diet that not only affected my mental focus and drive in the classroom but also my stamina and performance in dance class. It wasn’t until I started doing my own research and studying nutrition in college, that I learned how to use food AS FUEL towards my athletic goals. By sticking to nutrient-dense foods (fruits, veggies, lean protein sources) throughout the day and pairing quick-digesting carbs and protein around the window of my workouts, I noticed an increase in my energy levels, intraworkout endurance, and overall satiation. If you have any questions about this topic, or need help with your own diet, feel free to reach out. That’s what I am here for!