BY MENSHEALTH.COM/ ERIC BENSON
Hint: Get more Vitamin C. And fats like pasture-raised bacon. But, if you're Tom Brady, that means no more tomatoes or mushrooms.
“Everybody has always looked at food as fuel,” says Tim DiFrancesco, the L.A. Lakers’ strength and conditioning coach. “But now we’re realizing that food is also potentially medicine—or the opposite.”
DiFrancesco, widely known as “Grass-fed Tim” (a moniker bestowed on him by 36-year-old Metta World Peace), is evangelical about the benefits of certain foods not only for overall health but also for the recovery process of aging athletes.
One of his biggest battles is against inflammation. But he doesn’t fight it with heaps of anti-inflammatory pills—he fights it with diet.
For example: sugars and hydrogenated oils are very much out—“They can not only create inflammation, they can also make your supporting structures more fragile and brittle on a cellular level,” he says—and healthy fats, particularly avocado and coconut oil, are in. “They’re not going to add to inflammation, and they’re going to give you a lot of good energy.” And for a full-out assault on inflammation, DiFrancesco has his players scarf up the leafy greens of their choice.
This whole-foods approach (which, for the Lakers, is actually catered by Whole Foods) will sound familiar to anyone who’s heard of Paleo; but the best aging pro athletes take it to another level.
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady reportedly eats a diet carefully calibrated to be 80% alkaline and 20% acidic; he also steers clear of night-shades—tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, eggplants—because they don’t have anti-inflammatory properties. In Dallas, Dirk Nowitzki bullet-proofs his joints with a different approach: 1g of vitamin C mixed with 5g gelatin per day. (Studies have shown that high-dosing vitamin C can reduce the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines.) And in L.A., the recently retired Kobe Bryant, 37, has become a devotee of bone broth soup.
“When Kobe had the Achilles tear [in 2013], he said, ‘I’m not going to hang it up,’ so we needed to do everything we could to get him back,” DiFrancesco says. “There’s evidence that a cup of bone broth contains basically the building blocks of the body’s support structures. Did it alone help him get back? Probably not. But I’d say it could very well have been part of the overall map to recovery.”
Carrying a spare tire around your belly? You're not alone: Fifty-four percent of U.S. adults now have abdominal obesity, up from 46 percent in 2000, according to a recent report in the Journal of the American Medical Association. If you fall into that category (male abs are considered fat if the waistline measures more than 40 inches), it's time to consider cutting down your consumption of these five foods:
1. Refined grains
Not sure what a refined grain is? It's an ingredient found in foods like white rice, white bread, and regular white pasta. The unrefined stuff (whole wheat, brown rice and quinoa) is always healthier. Pennsylvania State University researchers found that people who ate whole grains in addition to keeping a healthy diet—of fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy and protein—lost more weight from the abdominal area the group of people who kept the same healthy diet but ate all refined grains.
2. Potato products
A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine followed the weight changes of more than 120,000 men and women for up to 20 years. The participants were checked every four years and, on average, they gained 3.35 pounds each time—so almost 17 pounds by the time the study was finished. The foods associated with the greatest weight gain? You guessed it—potato chips and potatoes.
3. Red and processed meat
The same 20-year study found that people who ate more red and processed meat gained weight, too—about one extra pound every four years. In another study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers worked with more than 370,000 people and found that folks who ate the equivalent of a small steak a day gained about five pounds in five years.
Those cupcakes your coworker makes for special occasions? Yeah, don't eat them. While the FDA has basically declared war on trans fats, store-bought frosting still contains a not-so-healthy dose of the stuff. How bad can trans fats be? Researchers at Wake Forest University gave groups of monkeys two different diets; one group ate trans fats and the other ate unsaturated fats.
The results: The group eating trans fats upped their body weight by 7.2 percent in six years and the other only gained 1.8 percent. Not only did the trans fats add new fat, it was also responsible for moving fat from other areas to the belly. Check for trans fat in other foods like pre-made baked goods, snack foods, and frozen pizzas.
5. Diet soda
It's easy to get fooled by the zero-calorie label, yet sodas made with sugar substitutes are believed by many to play a role in weight gain. A new study published this month found that people who drank diet soda gained almost three times the amount of abdominal fat over nine years as those who didn't drink the no-cal stuff.
Sure, that study only looked at adults ages 65 and older, but consider this: Recent research from the Weizmann Institute of Science found that mice drinking water with artificial sweeteners (saccharin, aspartame and sucralose) became vulnerable to insulin resistance and glucose intolerance—two things known to lead to weight gain.
Image & Article Source: http://fxn.ws/1MRJoE2
BY HEALTH.CLEVELANDCLINIC.ORG/ Katherine Patton, MEd, RD, CSSD, LD
Lunch is a vital meal for athletic children because it’s often the last meal they have before an after-school practice and will affect their energy and performance.
If they eat too little, they will be tired and sluggish. If they eat too much of the wrong foods, they could have an energy spike followed by a crash – or have an upset stomach from too much fat or fiber.
Things to think about first
Before you start planning what your child should eat for lunch, consider these factors:
Whether your child brings a packed lunch or buys a mid-day meal, it should reflect the MyPlate guidelines. Created by the United States Department of Agriculture, MyPlate is based on the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The goal is to improve people’s health by helping them make better food choices.
The MyPlate guidelines say your child’s lunch should include grains, a fruit, vegetables, dairy and protein. This will ensure they are getting an adequate amount of carbohydrates, protein, fat, vitamins and minerals to fuel them for afternoon activities.
A closer lookLet’s look more closely at these food groups:
Grains — Choose whole grains most often. Switch up the traditional sandwich by choosing a bagel, wrap, tortilla or pita instead. Try a variety of pasta shapes and types, such as ravioli, tortellini and gnocchi.
Fruit — Choose whole fruit first, 100 percent fruit juice second. Fruit comes in so many forms today, so pack what your child likes — fresh, frozen, dried, cups, pouches, slices or kebobs. Sneak fruit into other places, like bananas on a peanut butter sandwich or fresh fruit on plain yogurt.
Vegetables — There is no question getting your kids to eat their veggies can be the toughest, so try to get creative. Pair raw veggies with a dip such as hummus, natural peanut butter, homemade Greek yogurt or ranch dressing. Mix veggies in pasta or pasta sauce, mix them in smoothies or slice them thin, spritz them with olive oil and roast them to make snacks like kale chips.
Dairy -- Milk and yogurt are two of the most nutrient-dense foods kids can eat. They provide carbohydrates, protein, fat, calcium, vitamin D, plus many other minerals. So pack a thermos of milk, go for shelf-stable milk cartons, or have your child buy milk at school. Yogurt comes in many forms that can be attractive to kids — have them try regular or Greek in tubs or tubes.
Protein -- Think outside the box when it comes to protein. Deli meats are a quick and easy go-to, but choose nitrate-free versions. Also consider leftover dinner meats, hardboiled eggs, cheese sticks, slices or wedges, hummus, nut butters or nuts.
Involve your children
Want to include a sweet or salty treat? Choose wisely and keep portions in check. Try air-popped or pre-popped plain popcorn, whole-wheat pretzels or crackers, all-natural corn tortilla chips, whole-grain chocolate chip granola bar (with at least 3 g fiber and less than 8 g sugar), graham crackers, trail mix, chocolate rice cakes or pudding.
Are you and your child tired of packed lunches? Buying the designated school lunch is the perfect alternative.
School lunches typically meet the needs of the school athlete and the National School Lunch Program mandates that meals include the proper portions, based on age, of fruit, vegetables, grain, meat and milk, while also limiting saturated fat and sodium. The meals include a variety of colorful vegetables and fruit. Half of the grains served throughout the week are whole grains, and the milk served is either skim or 1 percent.
Finally, be sure to involve your children in the planning and preparation of their lunch so they understand the importance of a balanced lunch and how food equals fuel for their athletic endeavors.
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BY THESTAR.COM/ Katrina Clarke
As a time-strapped University of Toronto student athlete, volleyballer Kristina Valjas’ go-to fuel was a bowl of Kraft Dinner or a bag of chips.
Cheap, easy and tasty, but the junk diet eventually caught up with her.
“The turning point was the shin splints. It was extreme pain,” said Valjas, now 28 and a beach volleyball player with Canada’s national team. She’d developed bone density issues, partly due to a calcium deficiency.
What athletes eat can mean the difference between high level success and body breakdowns, but it takes time, effort and education to get it right, say dietitians and athletes. This can be tricky in a world where some seem able to eat whatever they want — Usain Bolt subsisting on chicken nuggets during the Olympics, Michael Phelps eating a reported 12,000 calories per day while training and Lolo Jones downing double bacon cheeseburgers to gain weight — but athletes say as they age, they know what works for them and what doesn’t.
“It’s, like, immediate now for me,” said Melissa Tancredi, a member of the Canadian women’s national soccer team who lives in Vancouver. “I’ll know right after I eat something (unhealthy) like, oh that wasn’t good. Your body’s like, no, I feel awful ... You feel sluggish, you feel tired.”
Tancredi, now 33, admits she paid little attention to what she ate as a young athlete, but now credits healthy eating with helping her to perform at her best in her 30s. She mainly sticks to organic meats, fruits and vegetables — though she’s not averse to a rich curry.
The main thing sports dietitian Melissa Kazan notices with her athletes at the Canadian Sport Institute of Ontario is that they don’t snack or plan ahead enough.
“That’s where we come in as dietitians,” she said.
Kazan teaches her athletes to pack healthy snacks, such as granola bars, soy milk packs or chocolate milk, and she advocates for an “everything in moderation” approach to eating.
“We always think, athletes, all they eat are carbohydrates or high carbohydrate diets — it really has to be varied,” she said.
Kazan said when an athlete’s training load is high at the beginning of the season, they’re likely eating more carbohydrates but as training sessions are tapered throughout the season, carbohydrate intake typically drops. Protein and fat intake typically remains the same, she said.
As for how many calories athletes consume, it depends on the athlete and the sport, said Kazan. Male swimmers competing at the national level might consume 6,000 calories per day.
The day’s schedule might also affect what an athlete eats, she said. Someone who can get away with eating greasy foods on a training day won’t be able to do so on competition day, said Kazan, since fat is a heavy nutrient to digest.
“At the end of the day, you have to realize that saturated fats, sugars and the rest of those not-as-great nutrients … still have the same effect on the body, whether you’re a runner, whether you’re an endurance athlete or not,” said Andrea Falcone, a registered dietitian and fitness professional whose clients include hockey players, marathon runners and volleyball players. “As far as performance, the best fuel is going to give you the best output.”
For some athletes, the problem isn’t eating bad food, but not eating enough or not frequently enough. High performance athletes should be eating every three to four hours — a challenge that can be overcome with proper meal planning, she said.
Falcone adds the research on sports nutrition has changed over the years, with modern research eschewing a one-size-fits all approach for a more nuanced look at what each athlete needs to perform at their best.
So could that mean chicken nuggets are the key to success? Not quite.
“Can (an athlete) eat anything they want? No, in a nutshell,” she said. “But they might be able to burn off that fuel better than your typical layperson.”
As for Valjas, she revamped her diet after meeting with a nutritionist, adding in more calcium, protein and fruits. It’s a healthful lifestyle she’s held to ever since — with the exception of the odd Coke or chocolate bar — and one that helped improve bone density issues.
“I’m mindful of what I put in my body because this is what I do for a living. It’s fuel,” she said. “I don’t even want chips anymore.”
ARTICLE & IMAGE: http://on.thestar.com/1RDjNQp
BY ACTIVE.COM/ Patrick Cohn, Ph.D. and Lisa Cohn
Too often, athletes try to be "perfect" when they perform. These young athletes set high expectations, then become upset when they fail to match their own standards.
We hear from parents and coaches who worry about young players who become easily frustrated and take disappointment home with them. You're likely familiar with athletes who display perfectionist behaviors.
Pros and Cons of the Perfectionist Athlete
Perfectionist athletes criticize themselves for making mistakes, often hold high and unrealistic expectations for themselves and tend to get frustrated easily after making mistakes. These kids are often perfectionists in other aspects of their lives--in school, for example.
On the positive side, you will find some advantages to perfectionism in young athletes. Perfectionist kids have a strong work ethic, are highly committed to their goals and are willing to learn and improve.
These positive traits often disguise the problems that are associated with perfectionism in sports. These kids are so motivated that you often don't think of them as having mental game struggles.
What Perfectionist Athletes Focus On
Sports kids who try to be perfect can undermine their performance in many ways. They focus too much on results, This gets them stuck in a vicious cycle of working hard, setting higher expectations and then thinking they are failing to reach their expectations.
It's important for you to understand that perfectionist athletes often unknowingly embrace very high expectations. They do this unconsciously. When they don't achieve their expectations, they feel frustrated. They feel like they have failed.
Here's a classic example from a baseball dad: "My son is a good athlete who has always had good success. However, he seems to focus on the negative, not the positive. If he is practicing hitting, and doesn't make good contact, after about three swings I hear 'I stink.' Unfortunately, things tend to go down hill from there."
Perfectionists think that maintaining very high and often unrealistic expectations is a good thing. They believe that the only other option is to live in a world of mediocrity. (It's ironic because their need to succeed in sports causes fear of failure, which can undermine their performance.)
Fear of failure kicks in when kids can't meet their expectations or the expectations of others. They become frustrated, lose composure and assume they are under performing. Then they won't achieve their full potential in sports. They begin to think they are failing at some level.
What Parents Can Do
Begin by identifying the very high or perfectionist expectations that pressure your young athletes. These are the expectations that motivate them to have a "perfect" game or practice and not make any mistakes.
Once you identify these expectations--"I need to throw a no-hitter in today's game"-- your job is to replace them with simple, process-oriented goals.
Smaller, more manageable goals such as "See the ball well during an at-bat" help athletes concentrate on the process. This helps sports kids achieve better results.
Manageable goals focus your athletes on the execution of one pitch or one play at a time. For example, a pitcher might visualize good pitches before each pitch.
The Right GoalAs a parent or coach, you want to be careful about placing super high expectations on your sports kids. You may do this without even realizing you're doing it.
Some parents and coaches ask kids to perform well--and place expectations on them--in an attempt to boost their confidence. They might say, "Make six three-pointers today!" Unfortunately, such well-meaning input can cause athletes--especially perfectionists--to try to meet these expectations, They then feel let down when they don't.
By lowering expectations and helping young athletes focus on manageable goals you put them in the best position to succeed.
ARTICLE & IMAGE: http://bit.ly/1RwJAHu
A collection of Competitive Athlete articles and selected content from various online sources to help you achieve your winning goals