To achieve superior athletic ability good genetics is definitely a plus, but good food choices can also help you achieve enhanced performance. It is important to make good food choices as well as good choices on WHEN to eat. Here are five nutritional tips to help improve your softball performance.
1. Start With the Most Important Meal of the Day, Breakfast
Why exactly is breakfast the most important meal of the day? After our body has rested for 6 to 8 hours the level of glycogen in the liver lowers dramatically, and we must "refuel" our bodies. In order to refuel our bodies we must consume foods that contain carbohydrates, protein and fat. Some good food choices to start your day are fresh fruit, yogurt with fresh fruit, toast with peanut butter, toast with low fat cheese or whole grain cereals with milk.
2. Drink Water
In order for your body to perform at an optimum level it must be well-hydrated. Before a workout drink plenty of water or sports drink. During breaks or between innings drinking water will not only hydrate your body but will replace the sodium you may have lost due to perspiration. Consumption of adequate fluid before, during and after strenuous activities can help maintain blood glucose levels during exercise, and maximize your performance.
3. Eat Foods High in Carbohydrates
In order to maintain body weight and replenish glycogen stores during times of high physical activity eating foods high in carbohydrates is critical. Examples of these foods include pastas, breads, fruits and smoothies. It is important to eat before any workout to have the energy required for enhanced performance. Have a snack at least one hour before a workout. Good snack choices may consist of granola bar, large banana, or even a ½ bagel.
4. Avoid Vitamin and Mineral Supplements
If you are eating the appropriate quantities of carbohydrates, proteins and fats there is no need for vitamin and mineral supplements. Vitamins can be obtained through a variety of different foods. However, supplements may be required for athletes who restrict their energy intake, suffer from severe weight loss, or eliminate one or more food groups from their diets. Nutritional advice from a professional is always recommended before making the choice to add supplements to your training.
5. Don't Overlook the Time After Exercise Activity
The time after exercise, training, practice, or games is just as important as before and during and should not be neglected. It is important to drink 3 cups of water or more during this time. This is key in hydrating your body after extreme exercise, training, or competition. One way to check your hydration level is to check the color of your urine. If the color is dark yellow, more consumption of water or sports drink is needed.
In addition to drinking fluids after training, it is also helpful to eat. Some players are not interested in eating after a tough practice or game, but it is very important. Eat a nutritious meal up to 30 minutes after exercise to replace the energy source. Food to our bodies is like gasoline to a vehicle, without it, our bodies will not function and will start to break down.
Those are just a few simple nutritional tips which can help you gain the competitive edge needed for your best softball performance. Good luck!