Eat, Sleep, Hydrate
The goal of this first section is to help you better understand the power that recovery provides. As you’re working on new skill sets it’s imperative you are doing all you can to support your personal growth. Stress without the proper recovery only leads to more stress on the body. But a dose of stress mixed with healthy recovery is where the magic and growth happens. It’s incredibly difficult to act, think and perform at our best when our recovery isn’t dialed in like it needs to be.
So what exactly do we mean by “recovery”? In this section, we will highlight the necessity of quality nutrition as well as sleep and hydration. A lot goes into thinking and performing at our best, and as the quality of your recovery improves, so will you – both on and off the field.
Let’s first look at nutrition, the food we consume.
“If I knew I was going to live this long, I would have taken better care of myself.“
High performing individuals (like yourself) are constantly in motion. You’re up early for practice or school, you have practice after a long day of school, and sometimes schoolwork or your sport can run late into the evening. All these things require fuel to perform and function at our highest potential so how you fuel your body is extremely important. Stress is a natural part of life, and it’s also a powerful means to growing as individuals. But there is no growth from stress without proper nutrition. So what should you be eating? And how much?
Questions to ask yourself…
At Mint, we encourage you to eat whole, fresh, minimally-processed foods as often as possible. Minimally processed foods are foods such as; lean meats, fruits and vegetables, seeds, nuts, and whole grains. All foods we consume are made up of 2 nutrients: macronutrients and micronutrients. Macronutrients are proteins, carbs and fats and micronutrients are vitamins, minerals, electrolytes. Macronutrients are what gives us energy, help build and maintain muscle mass and helps us feel full and makes our taste buds smile. Micronutrients are what helps keep our body healthy and what helps digest those macronutrients. With that being said, both are essential to overall health and performing at your best on the field and why we recommend whole food sources over packaged and processed options. (packaged and processed foods are typically much, much lower in the vitamins, minerals and electrolytes you need as an athlete).
Let’s break down what a macronutrient really is and why it matters to you as an athlete.
Again, the 3 main types of macronutrients are: protein, carbohydrates, and fats. Let’s break down each one:
The most important macronutrient we consume because of its role in the body. Protein is essential to growing, building and repairing tissue. Protein is made up of many different amino acids which are the building blocks of organs, bones, hair, enzymes, and muscle. Protein will make up the bulk of your nutritional requirements and is not easily stored by the body so a constant supply is required to meet daily requirements.
WHAT TO EAT
Try your best to choose more of the “Green light” options and less of the “Yellow light” options while trying to avoid the Red light” options. Making better choices and appropriately fueling yourself is one of the most important, but also one of most forgotten, ways to ensure you perform at your best!
Recommended proteins or Green light proteins: Chicken, turkey, lean beef, bison, duck, Eggs, fish, shellfish, pork, venison, cottage cheese, plain Greek Yogurt, Tofu, lentils, beans
Yellow light protein (eat less of) : medium lean meats, minimally processed deli meat, poultry sausage, canadian bacon, meat jerky, protein powders/bars, black bean burgers, traditional veggie burgers,
Red light Protein (try to avoid) : fried meats, chicken fingers/nuggets, wings, high fat meats, high fat sausages, processed deli meats, pepperoni, high mercury fish, plant based meats (super processed).
Carbs are important for athletes because they provide the body with glucose or energy used to support physical activity. Diets rich in carbohydrates increase endurance and high intensity performance due to the increased glycogen stored in muscles and liver. Consuming carbohydrates during workouts or events lasting over an hour can benefit performance while also delaying fatigue. Carbohydrates when compared to protein and fats are the most efficiently metabolized form of energy for the human body.
Types of Carbohydrates
Green light Carbs: Old fashioned, steel cut and rolled oats, quinoa, white rice, brown rice, beans, lentils, potatoes, sweet potatoes, millet, fresh fruit/veggies, dried fruit, taro
Yellow light Carbs: granola (watch sugar content), flavored yogurts, instant or flavored oatmeal, vegetable juices, white breads, pastas, wraps, milk, pancakes, waffles, boxed cereals (watch sugar content)
Red light Carbs: fruit juice, soda, flavored milk, canned fruit (sugar added), sweetened sports drinks,
Carbohydrates are your master fuel source and as an athlete should not be avoided, but we do need to be very conscious of what carbs we are consuming. Cheap, fast processed carbs are everywhere so having a better understanding of proper choices will help you make much more informed choices.
The third and final macronutrient though no less important is Fats. Common misconception but fats don’t make you fat, they are essential to: temperature regulation, neurological function, metabolism regulation, balanced blood sugar and hormone levels. Fats as well as Carbohydrates can be used as a fuel source.
Types of Fats
Green light Fats: Nuts/seeds, nut/seed butters, EVOO (extra virgin olive oil), avocados, avocado oil, egg yolks, olives, peanut butter, coconut, coconut oil
Yellow light Fats: Flaxseed oil, sesame oil, flavored nuts + nut butters, dark chocolate, cream
Red light Fats: Processed cheese margarine,canola, corn, cottonseed, vegetable, safflower, soybean oils, shortening, trans fats, marinades/salad dressings with any of these oils in this category
Fats historically get a bad wrap but are no less important than their macronutrient counterparts, proteins and fats. Each macronutrient plays an important role in you showing up and performing at your best. Again, be sure to select “green” light options as much as possible as these sections are your body’s most desired form of macronutrients.
Now that we know what to eat, let’s look at a very general balanced macro breakdown for an athlete
Again, these are generalized recommendations; if you need more guidance around your nutrition or to come up with an individualized plan for yourself, I recommend finding a nutrition coach who can tailor a plan specific to your needs. If you would like help in that regard, I have a few suggestions. I recommend recording your nutritional intake so that we can manage and adjust to how you are feeling, body composition as well as how well you’re performing. Good rule is that if we don’t measure it we can’t manage it.
Protein: 0.8-1.2 grams per pound of body weight
Carbohydrates: For athletes like yourself we suggest 1.5-2 gram per body weight
Fats: 0.3-0.5 grams per body weight
So if you are 150lbs we would suggest:
120-180 grams of protein/day
225-300 grams of carbohydrates/day
45-75 grams of fats/day
Many athletes notice huge increases in performance quality, quality of thought, sleep quality, overall mood and resilience to stress once they’ve gotten their nutrition dialed in. For most athletes this is a huge area of opportunity. If you care about your performance, you have to care about your nutrition.
“Nothing is softer or more flexible than water,
yet nothing can resist it.”
– Lau Tzu
Proper hydration plays a hand in so many of the processes that are happening within our bodies. And high performance doesn’t happen unless we stay adequately hydrated. Hydration helps to regulate body temperature, deliver nutrients to cells, relieves fatigue and increases energy, helps maintain bowel and bladder regularity, brings nutrients and oxygen to your cells, flushes toxins and helps your overall mental well being.
Not getting enough water can have very negative effects on our performance and mental clarity. Even mild dehydration can cause loss of coordination, impaired decision making, increased perceived exertion, and increase risks of heat stress. Your body runs on water and not getting enough of it will come at a cost.
If you find yourself having a hard time getting enough water, here’s some tips that will help:
You need to experiment with how to best consume the necessary water you need every day to perform at your best. There’s not a one size fits all approach so play with works best for you and your schedule.
How much water do you need?
Short answer, it depends. Factors like age, weight, activity level, climate, health, just to name a few. But as a good general rule of thumb you should be consuming a minimum 3 liters (101 ounces) of water, especially on the days you are more active. If you are in a hot humid environment and exercising more, you will need more. Don’t rely on thirst alone. Research shows that when people are highly active, relying on thirst alone, they tend to under consume fluid, replenishing only about half of what they lose. During longer periods of exercise or long games, you not only lose water but also important nutrients as well. These nutrients are called “electrolytes” and are crucial for overall health and wellbeing. This includes sodium, potassium and magnesium, so it’s important to replace those as well. Supplementing with an electrolyte beverage (one that is not high in sugar) can be an easy and effective way to replenish those electrolytes. We recommend LMNT for all of your electrolyte needs.
Do your best to avoid sugary “recovery” drinks that are filled with excess sugar and artificial ingredients.
Weighing yourself morning and evening can help you better understand your needs for both quality nutrients as well as adequate water intake. Keeping a log of your weight can help you early identify if something is not right and if we are adequately replenishing both nutrition and hydration.
Lately there seems to be a shift in the way America views their relationship with sleep, it’s almost as if nobody has time for it anymore. We almost seem to reward those that function or simply “get by” on less sleep but the fact remains that sleep is the single greatest opportunity to really influence our recovery in a positive manner. Sleep is essential for our overall health and well-being and it’s your responsibility to make sure you’re getting as much as you can of it. Think of it like your phone, you have to charge it at night or else you’ll be in trouble the next day. Sleeping enough and the quality of your sleep is crucial for peak performance, on and off the field. While you are looking at the back of your eye lids, your body repairs itself so not enough sleep = not enough repair or recovery. In fact studies have shown that getting adequate sleep equates to athletes having increase speed, accuracy and reaction time*. We understand the difficult nature of today’s demanding schedule but sleep has to be a mainstay in our day to day lives. So the big question is: How can you prepare for a good night’s sleep?
Here are some tips on getting the most out of your Zzzzz’s:
Why it matters and should matter to you
Most athletes wait entirely too long to make the body and recovery of it a priority. It should be the first thing we think of when we think about athletics and high performance. You simply cannot play your absolute best without your sleep, hydration and nutrition being dialed in. The quicker you can get a handle on these things the quicker you can maximize your performance on the field.
Peak performance on the field just doesn’t happen without it…
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