The past few days I’ve been at Bowdoin College working with the outstanding US Women’s World Cup Rugby team. And, today a college student (apparently a nutrition major) looked at me in the cafeteria and said “so do you all rugby people have a nutritionist or something? Because everyone eats the right foods.” After telling him he was talking to the dietitian, something occured to me (well, after Coach Kathy Flores pointed it out that is), many of the high school camp kids as well as the younger kids weren’t taking advantage of the variety and healthy foods that Bowdoin’s cafeteria offered at every meal (I can’t say enough about this cafeteria!). Instead, they’d load their plates with pasta, eat a little, then run over and get a bowl of frozen yogurt. Where’s the protein for recovery? Fruits? Vegetables? Fiber? Vitamins & minerals? Yep, there’s a lot missing on a diet comprised of pasta and frozen yogurt.
Many athletes miss this opportunity to fuel their bodies for their workouts and fuel them for recovery and muscle growth. And, to get better, pack on strength and gain speed, you have to eat and you have to eat the right foods. As my good friend and sports dietitian Amanda Carlson tells her pro athletes “nutrition can make a good athlete great or, a great athlete good.” And, as I told an athlete last night, why go to the gym for over an hour, power lift and do plyometrics if you aren’t going to fuel your body to actually benefit (maximally benefit that is) from your hard work? It isn’t a waste of time but it certainly isn’t the best use of time. And, if there’s one thing I’ve noticed when it comes to career longevity and performance, the best athletes have everything down pat – their eating, supplementation, rest, taking days off, rehabing and of course, training. They notice when one facet of their strength and conditioning program is out of balance and they fix it right away. So, I leave you with this thought – clearly identify your goal and train for it. But, make sure your eating program and supplements (what, when and how you take them) support your goals. After all, time is a commodity and, you might as well make the best use of your time in/on the gym, pool, court, and field.