Many elite minded athletes include sports nutrition in their training regimens early on, NOT because there is a problem in their performance, but to enhance their current and future goals. Early on usually means 6th -9th grade. However, the majority of athletes seek out sports nutrition expertise when they have a lull in performance.
Nutrition Can Increase Performance
One of my past clients came to me as a dominant swimmer. He was a freshman in high school and had big dreams. He wanted to finish 1st in every state event from freshman to senior year, qualify for World Junior opportunities, and be an Olympian. He always wanted to understand every step of the sports nutrition process and take 100% responsibility for all his choices. Within the first 6 months of working together, he ended up taking 5 seconds off his 200 free and made Olympic trial cuts in the 200 free and 400 free that year. Fast forward several years…He was a four-year state champion in all of his events and currently has an excellent chance of being an Olympian this year!
The Average High School Player
Whatever sport you are serious about, you need to know your body composition numbers, understand what they mean, and a sports nutrition road map on where you need to go to be the best. You can’t just train.
A particular high school football player I worked with realized he needed more size, but was struggling putting on lean weight. Once we assessed him, he only had 133lb of lean weight and needed 177-187lb to play at a higher level. A male athlete in puberty can put on approximately one-half to one pound of lean weight a week if he incorporates proper NUTRITION along with his training. Take a look below to see the actual progress this athlete made using proper nutrition. The earlier you understand this fact, the better competitive advantage you will have.
Sample Athlete's Progress with Proper Nutrition:
Sophomore year in HS
6'0, 156 lbs total weight
133 lbs lean muscle weight
23 lbs fat weight
14.8% body fat
2,325 calories per day
Junior year in HS
6'1, 171 lbs total weight
148 lbs lean muscle weight
23 lbs fat weight
13.5% body fat
4,000 calories per day
Senior year in HS
6'2, 185 lbs total weight
168 lbs lean muscle weight
23 lbs fat weight
9.2% body fat
4,800 calories per day
Freshman in College
6'2, 200 lbs total weight
180 lbs lean muscle weight
20 lbs fat weight
10% body fat
5,200 calories per day
As you can see from this progress, this particular player drastically improved his body composition while increasing his caloric intake, allowing him to reach his goals of becoming an ELITE college athlete.
Training, Nutrition, Hydration, and Sleep
In the world of athletics, most athletes put training first and nutrition, hydration and sleep as an afterthought. In fact; 75% of athletes under eat or consume too much added sugar or saturated fats throughout their career and 66% show up to practice or competition 1% dehydrated (1,2). Being 1% dehydrated can lead to a 12% decrease in performance (2,5)!
So, as you are reading this, what are 8 things you can do now:
Make nutrition, hydration and sleep an important part of the program
Seek out experts to speak to the team. Create an environment to cultivate sports nutrition success
Start being aware of what you are eating and drinking
Lead by example
What adults need are NOT what growing athletes need
Start designing weekly food plans. If you write it down you are 80% more likely to follow
Start making small changes for the better
Individual needs vary. Seek out an expert to customize
As you embark on thousands of hours of training, make sure you put sports nutrition with it. If you do not; I can say with 100% certainty, you are not maximizing your growth, health and athletic potential!
About the Author
Dawn Weatherwax is a Registered/Licensed Dietitian with a specialty in Sports Nutrition and Founder of Sports Nutrition 2Go. She is also a Board Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics, which is the premier professional sports nutrition credential in the United States. In addition, she is an Athletic Trainer with a Certification in Strength and Conditioning from The National Strength and Conditioning Association. Weatherwax brings a comprehensive and unique understanding of the athlete's body, and its nutritional needs, to those interested in achieving specific performance goals and optimal health.
Click here, to visit Dawn's website.
Hinton P, Sanford T Davidson MM, Yakushko O and Beck N. Nutrient intake and dietary behaviors of male and female collegiate athletes. Inter J of Sports Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism. 14: 389-390, 2004.
Caselli, DPM et al. Sports Medicine. Recognizing and Preventing Dehydration in Athletes. 17: 66-69, 2004.
Casa, Douglas et al. ACSM'S Health & Fitness Journal. Avoiding Dehydration Among Young Athletes. 9(3):20-23, May/June 2005
Burge CM, Carey MF, Payne WR. (1993). Rowing performance, fluid balance, and metabolic function following dehydration and rehydration. Medicine & Science in Sports and Exercise, 25 (12): 1358-1364, 1993.
Jose Gonzalex-Alonso J, Calbet JAL, Nielsen B. (1999). Metabolic and thermodynamic response to dehydration-induced reductions in muscle blood flow in exercising humans. The Journal of Physiology, 520(2):577-589.