“I want to play in the NFL or MLB”. -Athletes that skip breakfast and barely eat 2 meals per day while snacking on candy and drinking energy drinks. Those same athletes are often sleeping < 6 hours per night. Talent will only get you so far in sports and in life. If you are a high school or college athlete that views proper nutrition as a chore or punishment…. Choose to retrain and CHANGE your mindset to view sleep and nutrition as an OPPORTUNITY. An opportunity to gain muscle, strength, speed, stamina, and pummel your competitors!
If you want to be great you can’t rely on mediocre habits to get you there. You’ll break down and get outpaced along the way. How do we know? The data doesn’t lie. According to statistics:
- Just 1.6% of college players will become a professional in the NFL. 10.5% of NCAA senior male baseball players will get drafted by an MLB team.
- Approximately 1 in 200, or approximately 0.5 percent of high school senior boys playing interscholastic baseball will eventually be drafted by an MLB team.
If you’re striking out at the plate you might be striking out in your nutrition and sleep. What you eat directly influences your mood, concentration, energy levels, speed, power, focus, endurance, and performance.
The tips I outline in this blog are going to HELP you gain the competitive edge you train so hard for. That means you can’t eat Skittles and 1/2 a sandwich at lunch and expect to be bigger, faster, or stronger.
Remember, athletes do not diet and exercise. Athletes fuel and train. You must eat early and you must eat often if you want to be your best!
Performance adaptations can’t occur if you’re not eating quality calories rich in vitamins and minerals as well as protein to repair and rebuild.
Rule number 1: Aim for 7-11 hours of sleep. Sleep is king. Student-athletes need more sleep. This isn’t new information. Sleep is king and nutrition is queen. Never stay up late for something you would not get up early for.
If you would not get up at 4 a.m. to scroll the news or social media why would you stay up till midnight doing such toxic things? Poor sleep habits hinder your health and performance. As a sports dietitian sleep is my first concern when speaking with a program, coach, athlete, or parents of young athletes. How much we sleep influences our appetite as well as testosterone levels. If you have time for social media you have time for sleep. If you want to get stronger and faster start getting your sleep!
“If you need a pre-workout for energy you likely aren’t eating enough, hydrating, or getting proper sleep.” Share this video with someone who needs to hear this message.
Feel free to share my sleep tweets with those who need a reminder on priorities. Do you want to be great? Get your sleep! If you can’t get the full 7 try adding in a nap. Research supports that a 20-90 min nap can improve performance.
BASEBALL PERFORMANCE TIP SHEET DOWNLOAD HERE
Rule number 2: Test don’t guess! Start logging your nutrition. How do you know if you’re eating enough protein, carbs, and calories to support your energy and training demands? We always have our athletes log their nutrition so they can see for themselves how little or how much they are eating. Many athletes claim they can’t gain weight but they fail to eat breakfast let alone 100 g of protein in a day.
Log in to My Fitness Pal, pen and paper, and use a Word document or another free app. We can’t change or improve what we do not know. When an athlete sees they are only consuming 2,000 kcal per day and they are trying to gain weight the connection and motivation is made that change is required. If nothing changes nothing changes.
Creatine monohydrate guide DOWNLOAD HERE
Nutrition coaching and presentations create habit change for both youth and collegiate athletes!
- Sac State baseball athlete was able to add 24 lbs. to his frame in 5 months. Read here how Ryan gained weight in the off-season.
- 13 YO baseball athlete gains 58 lbs. over two years following the NWW fueling plan! Read how Eli added muscle and strength using our nutrition plan here.
- Texas HS baseball coach shares the benefits of my Baseball Nutrition 101 presentation to educate his athletes on pre-workout meals, recovery nutrition, and how to improve strength.
- Recently I delivered a baseball nutrition 101 to the Southern Baseball Academy. We discussed muscle gain, pre-workout, post-workout, fueling game day, and how supplements do not contain the same high-quality amino acids as whole foods. This is something I discuss in every single high school, college, and semi-pro presentation. If you’re not seeing strength or performance results you likely aren’t eating enough high-quality protein or sufficient calories. See the muscle gain dinner example here.
Calorie, protein, fat, and carbohydrate recommendations:
- Carbohydrate needs range from (3 to 5 g/kg/bw/day).
- Protein needs vary based on goals, training, and intensity but the right place to start is (1.4-1.8 g/kg/bw/day).
- Fat recommendations include 1.0 g/kg/bw/day).
This means a 150 lb. 68 kg athlete requires: 205-340 g of carbs, 95-122 g of protein, and 68 g of fat. It is quite simple to break this down into 3 meals and 2 snacks using the performance plate as a guide. All meals matter. If you consume 3 meals per day at roughly 25-30 g of protein and 10-15 g of protein at snacks you’re meeting your needs. Fuelingstrategy!
- If you’d prefer to see percentages you can see my simple breakdown here.
- See my student-athlete snack guide here.
- See a sample baseball athlete menu here.
- Gas station snacks for on-the-run here.
- Click here for SIMPLE team meal ideas to eat before a game or the night before games. For travel and dugout snacks click here.
- Eating out at fast food tips HERE.
- What about protein bars? Click here.
You have to PLAN! If you don’t plan your meals and snacks you’re less likely to eat the right foods. Want to be a champion? Do the planning in advance. Opportunity favors the prepared!! You never know how long a baseball game will last. Extra innings, rain delay, or other circumstances.
- Plan to have quick-digesting carbs and a little bit of protein on hand for the dugout or the bus! We recommend dried fruit, a 100% fruit bar, 1/2 turkey sandwich, a sports drink, and 1/2 bagel. See more options below.
Rule 3: Hydration, pre-workout, and refueling post-workout
- Hydration is one of the most overlooked aspects of health and performance. For every lb. lost during training and games replace with 16-24 oz. of fluid.
- Click here for my hydration recommendations.
- 1-2% of dehydration can result in loss of speed, power, strength, and agility. Click here for tips on preventing dehydration.
- 7 hydration tips here
- Fueling your workout
- NCAA regulations on pre-workouts?-learn more here
- Refueling post-workout and why you should use chocolate milk here.
- Baseball nutrition tip sheet
Increase your pro sports odds by: eating 3-5 balanced meals daily sleeping 7-9 hours nightly avoiding pre-workouts and eating carbs + protein before and after workouts. Train hard and train smart! Habits are hard to break but you need to change your routine to change your life.
Don’t forget to rest and prioritize recovery with 80-100 oz water daily and avoid soda supplements with a 3rd party tested creatine monohydrate (helps reduce injury risk, helps muscle maintenance, growth, and recovery). Stay away from drugs, alcohol, vaping, chewing tobacco, and negative influences. If athletes followed these tips they would be their best.
Cribb, P. J., & Hayes, A. (2006). Effects of supplement timing and resistance exercise on skeletal muscle hypertrophy. Medicine and science in sports and exercise, 38(11), 1918–1925. https://doi.org/10.1249/01.mss.0000233790.08788.3e
How can we work together?
- If you are looking for a team talk or presentation we are now booking for the remainder of 2023. Check out our performance nutrition partnership HERE.
- Health and performance guidebook HERE.
- Apply for coaching whether you’re an athlete or an adult needing help and support. Click here
- Help your athletes, coaches, and community understand the fundamentals of fueling, sleep, recovery, and weight gain via our student-athlete coaching programs. Details are available HERE.
In good health and performance,
Wendi Irlbeck, MS, RDN, LD, CISSN is a registered dietitian nutritionist and performance coach. Wendi utilizes evidence-based science to tailor nutrition programs for athletes to optimize performance, minimize health risks, and enhance recovery from training while focusing on injury prevention. She and her team partner with parents, sports performance staff, and special needs and recreational athletes to offer nutritional guidance and optimal athletic performance and lifestyle plans. Wendi provides virtual services including telehealth but is based in Nashville, TN. Wendi works with clients of all levels internationally.