As many of you know, I use to run regenerationlab.com as my first attempt to get my beliefs across and I learned so much since then regarding nutrition. So I decided to update the information as my earlier blog was very poorly written and needs to be updated as of today. The biggest mistake I made was not reading enough of the research and relying too much on what people had to say, so, when one contracts out nutritionists for teams or individuals the first question is what are you getting? My response is that you getting solutions that are often obvious to those that are doing all the time but not for those struggling to do it. Nutrition is often not what you know, it is what you get yourself or others to do. Here are 5 Tips that I learned from working with nutrition experts or stuff I picked up from those in the trenches. Here is a general list as I get more involved in the solutions in the audio portion of the Mediacast. Even if you don’t sign up here are 5 good tips for readers:
Culture- People that are critical of Poliquin fail to understand that their coaches are often the ones that show up to seminars strong and lean. Yes they may have a vitacube and a one gallon water jug but that type of religious commitment is exactly what it takes to make an impact with athletes. Does your team eat together and where do they go? One of the most personal and bonding experience is to eat together. When visiting one particular coach the team was eating at a hotel and they had good food choices but I think the team unity also was special. Those that take nutrition too far and become overzealous is not what I am a proponent of, but the ways they get people to follow what you say is the key.
Assessments- I contracted one nutritionist in 2000 to help with an elite sprinter/hurdler. Jennifer gave us a food assessment and it was the best evaluation tool I have seen so far to get a profile of what the athlete did and liked. So many times we tell what athletes to eat but we don’t know what they don’t like and why. I hated sushi when I was young because I didn’t try it before and I thought eating raw fish on rice was gross. Know I love it because I tried it. Often bad food experiences will ruin an athlete’s food choice. When do they eat? Can they cook? What ethnic foods do they feel comfortable with. What is their emotional relationship with food? Food logs are nice but a good food assessment is a great solution. I will do this again this year as I try to add one element of athlete support a year so that athletes feel like the program is evolving.
Military Operations- Getting people to eat requires strategy and tactics. My biggest influence coaching wise was a Navy guy. I studied how armies ate in the middle of battle to see what was necessary. If you want to make sure athletes are doing the fundamentals. One of the most important parts to recovery is hydration. The least sexy of nutrition needs is the most abused. Ideally you have a wide mouth water bottles(for pouring scoops of GES or protein powder), a carabiner (so they attach it to their bag so they don’t lose it), and one with measuring lines and logos for team culture. If you don’t just have something and remind them.
System– I have a breakfast system that is simple but effective. On days off without sleeping in when does the athlete want to eat? Often athletes are not eating enough because an early morning renders kids hungry at 10am but not at 6:30am when they are groggy. As a HS kid that had no talent in sports, I wanted to be on relays that won the gold and was able to accomplish that by having a big breakfast. Not everyone is like a swimmer that can eat a huge meal at 5am before morning practice but I encourage liquid options and fruit for fuel and portable mid day snacks for repair. My rule is if you are not having a morning practice you want to have protein sources as a priority since it’s easy to get carbs in most cafeterias and protein is the hardest to carry around unless it’s beef jerky and powders. A scoop of chocolate protein with yogurt makes it into a pudding, and vanilla protein powder makes cottage cheese into a desert when most find it gross, from the flavor removing the bite. Included Tuesday is a recipe table for breakfast.
5 Minutes– One particular nutritionist I used was very good with bodybuilders but didn’t get the limits to others that just care about playing their sport. 40 minute desert recipes didn’t cut it for me and I felt that compliance must follow Dr. Sears 5 minute rule. If it takes 5 minutes or longer the habit may not be formed. Bars, pills, and powders get a lot of heat from purists but compliance is the most important. I have a system that allows athletes do what they need to do quickly like a swat team. Coaches should have something in place, a chapter in their team handbook, a booklet, or even a saying to get people do make change.