Maintaining Your Strategic ‘Nutrition’ Advantage on the Road…
Competition is hard enough! You put in the extra effort at practice and eat the way you are suppose to; in particular the day of a home game.
What happens when you have travel to a different city or town for an away game?
It is important to stick to the game plan on the court and in the kitchen!
Nutritional Goals for Good Road Trip and Performance should include:
Find tasty healthful food
Keep stress to a minimum
Support the digestive/immune system
Because this scenario takes place in a big city and a small town the challenges are a little different in each place.
The city will generally have more resources such as restaurants, markets and delivery services. These can easily be explored on the internet before the trip. Team dinners at a restaurant can be scheduled ahead so they can better accommodate special requests and customize the menu. They even may offer a discount for a large group. There could be websites that specialize in sharing info from other traveling teams and athletes who have visited this city for competition.
The town will have fewer resources and twice as many meals, which makes it the bigger challenge. In a small town the market and possibly a farmer’s market could be good places to source for nutritious food items. Being in the city first does offer the opportunity to get food that could be transported with the team to the town and that would require simple prep like microwaving or just healthy snacks. As with the city some internet investigation ahead of time would be wise. If refrigeration is an option on the bus food could be bought in the city already made before the trip to the town and reheated for a lunch or dinner.
Food supplies more than just fuel and nutrients for the body. It can be comforting and an important tool for group bonding so knowing your team member’s favorite foods and providing or procuring them adds emotional and anti-stress value.
Even with good food options there are still choices that have to be made. It would be good to offer some guidance to team members on how to make the best choices to support their efforts.
With less than optional choices you can still make the best of what is available with some knowledge about food. Here are some tips for choosing food that best supports the body:
Avoid artificial ingredients. If you need a chemist to explain what is in the food it’s probably not a good choice.
Avoid deep fried foods. The oils that are generally used cause cell damage and inflammation.
If inflammation is an issue, then vegetables from the nightshade family; potatoes, eggplant, peppers and tomatoes, should be avoided or limited. Tomato sauce and ketchup are ok since the seeds and skin, where most of the inflammatory substances are located are strained out. Sweet potatoes and yams by the way are not part of this plant family so are a very good choice!
The body and the brain especially prefer fat as fuel not sugar or simple starches. Good fat along with high quality protein and fiber really sustain the body’s energy and keep hunger at bay.
Good fats include butter over any margarine. The best butter being grass-fed. Coconut oil is excellent for eating and cooking. Liquid MCT oil derived from coconut oil is excellent for adding to foods and shakes.
High quality protein is available in eggs, especially if pasture raised. Poultry preferably organic, meat preferably grass fed if beef and wild caught fish are all excellent protein sources. There are vegetable sources but to be truly bioavailable and easily digested they should be fermented. There are vegetable protein powders that include sprouted peas, hemp seed among others. Soy should be avoided since it is mostly genetically modified, hard to digest, inflammatory and acts like an estrogen in the body.
Our Athletes Kitchen Food Strategy Programs on the iconnect2u sports website go into more detail about these nutritional guidelines.
Dark green vegetables provide many vitamins. The rule of thumb is the more colorful the vegetable is the more vitamins and nutrients it has to offer.
Try to keep the sugar content in foods and beverages to a single digit per serving. Even no sugar added fruit juices are all in the double digits per serving. They could be diluted with water if necessary.
Healthy snacks are a great way to add extra nutrition if you are not sure about your regular meals. Some good choices are:
Nuts preferably dry roasted or raw, but not peanuts which are part of the legume plant family and can aggravate allergies and often have been infected with a fungus.
Protein bars that have a high-quality source of protein and not more than single digit of sugar per serving and some fiber.
Fruit but watch not to consume too much of the high sugar ones like grapes, oranges and melons. Fruit juices even those with no added sugar are in the double digits for a serving. Fiber in fruit slows the sugar absorption which is why it is a better choice than juice. Berries, such as Black berries, Blue berries and Rasberries are preferred!
Cheese should be limited to small portions; a couple ounces and the more aged the better.
Almond milk and coconut milk is generally better for your body than regular dairy milk as long as it doesn’t have carrageenan a problem thickening agent in it. Most better brands have removed this from their products.
Avocados are a great healthy fat/fiber combination
To support a healthy digestive tract and get the most out of your food, I suggest first an enzyme and then secondly a probiotic supplement.
An Enzyme supplement will ensure that your body is getting the maximum nutrients out of the food ingested. These can be available chewable if swallowing a capsule doesn’t go over well. The dose is one with each meal.
Probiotics are the healthy bacteria in our digestive tract and are very important to our bodies’ digestion and wellbeing.
They are 70-75% of our immune system.
They make vitamins like B’s and K.
They help break down our food into the nutrients our body needs.
They out-number the cells in our body 10 to 1!
Stress and unfamiliar food can take a toll on their numbers. Probiotics are available in capsules & chewable tablets that don’t all need to be refrigerated. All you need is one capsule or tablet a day. Even if it isn’t part of your daily regime, It should be when you are traveling. Probiotics can also be found to a lesser degree in fermented foods like yogurt, kefir and sauerkraut if the label says ‘live cultures’.
Happy eating and competing…on to your Road Game Victory!!