Q: In your experience in training athletes, what is one nutrition mistake you see commonly made? And one nutrition strength you see commonly among athletes?
A: I find that athletes don't consume enough fruits and vegetables in their diet. The benefits of the minerals, vitamins, and antioxidant properties of fruits and vegetables is invaluable to athletic performance and personal health.
Athletes are doing a better job of hydrating than they use to. There are so many colorful, trendy, and stylish water bottles, travel mugs, tumblers, and shaker cups on the market these days it seems like everyone is carrying one. Take small sips often and refill your bottle throughout the day.
Q: Have you observed that well-fueled athletes meet their training goals or recover quicker? Can you share any examples?
Recently, our hockey team went through a 2 week period where several players and staff members were affected by illness. I find that athletes who are conscientious about being well fueled recover faster from illness. They miss fewer games and practices due to illness and they return to normal training loads faster. I feel that athletes who are well fueled are less likely to get sick and are affected less severely by symptoms when they are sick.
Q: If you could give athletes one tip related to nutrition, what would it be?
A: Here are tips for immune system boosting and illness prevention that our team follows:
Maintain regular and optimal meals containing 1/3 vegetables, 1/3 protein, and 1/3 grains or starch.
In between meals, maintain regular snacks rich in carbohydrates, proteins, and healthy fats (ex. fruits, nuts, yogurt, whole grain granola/cereal, fruit/protein smoothies).
Antioxidant rich foods. Examples of fruits include: grapes,blueberries, cranberries, strawberries, guava, papaya, kiwifruit, oranges. Examples of vegetables include: bell peppers, broccoli, cabbage, kale, spinach, sweet potato.
Hydrate regularly with water.
2: What is a tip you can share with coaches or trainers in talking to their players about nutrition?
A: Consistency. I think consistency is something that people strive for in all facets of life...daily routine, work or school schedule, physical activity, sleep, socializing, etc. Your nutritional habits should be no different. I find that athletes are creatures of habit. Make a nutrition plan or find out what works for you and stick with it. Make subtle adjustments as required.
Q: Do you have a favorite refueling product, shake/snack, or meal?
A: In Canada, our team found and uses a product called Rekarb. Rekarb is a maple syrup product containing natural sugars, antioxidants, and sodium. It is a thin, easy to swallow texture which our athletes find easier to ingest than gels. Our athletes use Rekarb to maintain or boost carbohydrate/energy levels during games or long training days. It is an excellent product that can also be added to meals or snacks to enhance taste by providing sweetness (ex. Rekarb added to oatmeal, smoothie, granola, yogurt, sweet potato, ice cream).