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Fuel Up for Peak Performance in Baseball!

The following baseball sports nutrition strategies are provided by SCAN/CPSDA Registered Dietitians (RDs) with additional information provided by Tracy Owens (MPH, RD, CSSD, LDN).

Sports nutrition for baseball players is important to meet the demands of this highly competitive sport that requires a unique mix of strength, speed, power and agility, in addition to sharp focus, quick judgment, and split-second reaction time.

Nutrition and hydration impact every aspect of your game as a baseball player. If you don’t follow sound sports nutrition and hydration guidelines, your play will likely suffer. You could end up being the player who performs sluggish and affects the team’s overall performance.

If you follow the baseball sports nutrition strategies presented below, you can be the player who performs at an optimal level, who stands out among his peers, and who helps his team win the big game.

YEARLONG GAME PLAN FOR PEAK PERFORMANCE

Like all elite athletes, baseball players must adapt their performance nutrition strategies according to training volume and intensity. When formulating your yearlong game plan, keep the following in mind:

  • The ideal nutrition plan is one that you enjoy, is practical and sustainable, and positively influences performance.
  • Nutrient timing is critical so plan ahead. Split your intake into medium-sized meals and snacks throughout the day, so you’re eating every three hours or so. Frequent fueling will keep your energy level high and optimize muscle mass and recovery.
  • Many student-athletes find this schedule beneficial for frequent fueling:
    • Breakfast
    • Lunch
    • Snack before training (adjust timing if practice is not in afternoon)
    • Recovery snack (within 30 minutes of completing workouts)
    • Dinner
    • One additional snack
  • Meals and snacks should contain lean protein. Excellent sources of lean protein are lean meats, poultry, fish, seafood, eggs, tofu, soy, beans, milk, cheese, yogurt, nuts, seeds, and peanut or other nut butters. Regularly incorporate healthful fats such as oils, oil-based salad dressings, nuts, seeds, fish, and avocado.
  • Carbohydrate needs fluctuate the most throughout the training year. Carbs are the primary fuel for baseball, and your carb needs differ from that of athletes who play more aerobic sports, such as soccer or cross country. When you train hard and play a tough schedule, your needs are higher.  The Elite Athlete’s Plate shows you how to fill your plate according to training intensity.
  • During the off season and on lower intensity days, your needs are lower. In general, the top choices are long-lasting carbohydrates that come from whole grains (whole-grain bread, brown rice, oatmeal, whole-grain cereals, corn, popcorn, etc.), beans, veggies, many fruits and dairy products.
  • Calories vary depending on height, weight, activity and position. College aged players need approximately 3000 calories per day but this can vary from one player to another. Catchers and pitchers may burn 200 more calories per hour.
  • Expand the variety of foods you consume to get micronutrients you need.
  • Only take supplements that are safe and third-party tested (such as NSF), and don’t take any of them without first consulting with a sports dietitian, medical doctor, or athletic trainer.
    Learn more about sports supplements here >>
  • Save sports drinks for during and after practice and games. Use the “3-H” rule with sports drinks: Select sports drinks instead of water when it’s hot, the workout is hard, and it will last longer than an hour. Otherwise, drink water for hydration.Soda, lemonade, lattes, and other sugary beverages can accumulate to excessive levels and can detract from performance.

PRE SEASON

  • Establish nutrition and hydration habits that compliment performance throughout the season.
  • Even when you have a full schedule, remain consistent with your nutrition and hydration strategy. Avoid skipping meals, and plan ahead so you always have healthy fueling options available.

WINTER BREAK

It’s time to take a break and enjoy some of your favorite foods, but stay true to your fueling strategy most of time. Enjoy a good home-cooked meal and some treats, but avoid a week or two of splurging which can affect your training and performance after the break.

IN SEASON

This is the time to optimize performance and maximize recovery between games and practices.

  • Keep in mind your performance nutrition goals when eating out with teammates. Find foods and beverages you enjoy that meet the winning formula and save splurges for other occasions.
  • Remember that game-day performance is impacted by the quality of week-long fueling. Practice, school work, and other activities can cause nutrition to take a back seat.
  • Have healthy snacks in the dugout that will provide energy and focus and help you avoid a drop in blood sugar that can cause a drop in coordination and reaction time.
  • Avoid consuming energy drinks before training and competition to compensate for suboptimal nutrition during the week. Your performance will suffer.

GAME DAY FUELING STRATEGIES

Click through the chart below to see fueling strategies that start with your pregame meal and end with your postgame meal. Click on the links within the chart for more detailed information that will help you optimize energy levels, maximize recovery, and incorporate the fueling strategies into your busy schedule.

 

CHAMPIONSHIP/POST SEASON

  • Adapt the fueling formula you’ve used all season to different game times, climates, and fueling settings. Have your favorite staples readily available – oatmeal packets, dried fruit, etc.
  • Between games in a doubleheader, you may want to double what you normally consume for recovery nutrition. For example, if you normally have low-fat chocolate milk for post game recovery (before your postgame meal), try low-fat chocolate milk plus a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
  • Don’t forget to hydrate, especially as temperatures heat up. Nerves, excitement, heat, and dehydration suppress appetite, so be sure to establish and stick to your schedule.

OFF SEASON

This is when performance nutrition can help you improve conditioning and enhance your body composition.

  • Experiment with various nutrition strategies to determine what foods and beverages help you feel strong and recover faster.
  • Training is typically less intense so your carbohydrate needs are lowest during these months. Do not avoid carbohydrates, but focus on smaller side portions of whole grains and fill half your plate with fruits and vegetables at each meal.
  • Over-fueling and lots of poor choices during the offseason make for extra work during fall training. Lead off the year in great shape.

YOUR INDIVIDUAL NEEDS

We have provided you with general sports nutrition strategies that can help optimize performance and  maximize recovery, but you are unique in terms of your physical attributes, skills, and athletic background. A sports registered dietitian can help you establish a specific plan unique to your goals.

Consider these tips to create your individualized plan.

  • Don’t compare yourself to standards or teammates. Instead, work to make positive personal gains and body composition improvements.
  • Depend on your teammates to help maximize your nutrition strategy by cooking together, making healthy restaurant choices, hydrating on the field and practicing consistent recovery nutrition.
  • Be open to trying new foods, ideas, and fueling strategies. You never know what’s going to be the small change that turns into winning results!

These sports nutrition strategies are provided by SCAN/CPSDA Registered Dietitians (RDs) and Tracy Owens (MPH, RD, CSSD, LDN).

Change Your Nutrition and Change Your Game!