One of the biggest problems I see with athletes these days is their eating habits and nutrition. Yes, what boys and girls are putting in their bodies directly correlates to their basketball training, weight lifting, and playing in games. An athlete must fuel his or her body to perform at optimal levels.
Skeptics may make the argument against the importance of healthy eating by giving some examples of pro athletes not following healthy habits. For example, Derrick Rose would eat candy and skittles for meals or Lamar Odom lives off of candy. Because both of these players are NBA superstars, you may ask yourself, “why do I have to eat healthy?” These two NBA superstars are outliers and shouldn’t be used as models for appropriate eating habits. Other skeptics may say that they have eaten minimally or mostly junk food for most of their lives and they are fine. What is fine? If you truly want to be a top level athlete and perform at your highest level you must try your best to eat smart, or you may never know what heights you could reach if your body were fueled properly. All athletes are different and need proper nutrition, so avoid looking at your fellow competitor and thinking what he/she does will work for you.
A large portion of my clients tell me they eat either a pop tart, nothing or cookies for breakfast. If you are starting your morning off on the wrong foot this is clearly going to hinder your optimal performance in the classroom and on the basketball court. Kids need to try out new foods for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Wake up 15 minutes earlier in the morning and make scrambled eggs. You don’t know how to make eggs? LEARN! Throw away the pop tarts or not eating, and start eating scrambled eggs, oatmeal, fruit, nuts and yogurt in the morning.
Lunch time is probably the hardest for students as schools don’t offer the best lunch options. Remember you are different and not like every student. You need to find creative ways to eat good/healthy food from your cafeteria. I know for a fact schools will give you a lunch schedule for the upcoming week. Knowing that, you should be proactive and plan what you will eat during the week and make plans for bringing a healthy lunch on days when the school isn’t offering anything good. If you have the option to go off campus to eat, then there should be no excuse to not eat healthy. If you are going home to eat you should have healthy things ready to fuel your body! If you are going to a fast-food or restaurant type setting during lunch, you should know what the healthiest options are on the menu! No excuses for not eating a more healthy lunch.
Dinner time is always confusing with practices, homework, games and life. One of the main themes throughout this posting is time management and planning. If you know dinner time is going to be hectic make sure you plan your meal accordingly. Have food ready to be eaten ahead of time or have a plan on what you want your parents to cook for the night.
Eating small snacks throughout the day is key as well. As you are growing you need to constantly fuel your body. Eating protein bars/shakes, almonds, fruit and other types of snacks throughout the day in between meals is essential. Your body is constantly growing and needing fuel! Find a way during school to sneak in a snack or protein shake.
In all, you must be smart and start now on the path to healthier eating and smart eating! Many kids tell me they eat three times a day (pop tart, small school lunch, fast food for dinner) and don’t see any problem with it. Of course kids don’t see anything wrong with that eating pattern, because they have never been told differently. In 2013, kids want to see results right away and never give new ideas enough time to see them through. All the hard work you are putting in on the court needs to pay off even more! Put the pop and candy down because it truly is terrible for you! It’s time to grow up and start fueling your body more often and with the right foods!
**Bryant Travis is a certified nutritionist and you can visit his site at Powerfuelfitness.com or ask me for more questions on healthy eating and how to properly fuel your body.
**PART 2 of this post will be coming soon on weight lifting and supplements.