As a baseball or softball player, or any athlete that wants to perform at peak performance it is critical to take into account the fuel that you are putting into your body. There are many different factors to consider and certain nutrition plans will work well for some, but not so well for others. At SwingFit we do not endorse any specific diet for our athletes, instead we ask our athletes to ask themselves these three questions to ensure they are fueling their bodies appropriately for peak performance:
1. What am I putting into my body?
2. How much fuel am I putting into my body?
3. Why am I putting this in my body?
At The Hitting Vault we strongly recommend you take into consideration these three questions anytime you look to fuel your body. Fueling is a critical aspect of being a top performing hitter and all around baseball player. Even the best workout routines will not enable you to reach your full potential without the proper nutrition and fuel for your body.
Foods for the Elite Hitter
Below we will cover some of the foods and best practices that we have our hitters follow for peak performance on their workouts and on the field.
Carbs for energy
Choose whole-grain bread, crackers, cereal, pasta and potatoes for lasting energy. Save sports drinks for an energy boost during endurance sports or training sessions lasting more than an hour.
Spread out protein
Active bodies need protein to support growth and build and repair hardworking muscles. Young athletes should spread protein foods throughout the day, having some at each meal and with most snacks, such as eggs and whole-grain toast with fruit for breakfast or a sandwich with low-sodium deli meat on whole-grain bread with yogurt and raw veggies for lunch. Plant-based protein foods like tofu and beans also are great choices.
Use caution with fatty foods
Fatty foods slow digestion, which is not ideal for an athlete facing a competition. Greasy, fried foods and fatty desserts are filling and may leave your athlete feeling tired and sluggish. Skip the fries or pizza before practice, and keep fat content on the light side.
Keep Safety in Mind
Nothing will slow down your athlete more than food poisoning – having stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea after eating. Make sure you store snacks at proper temperatures to prevent spoilage. Keep cheese, yogurt, meat, eggs and salads made with mayonnaise in a refrigerator or cooler. Shelf-stable items such as nuts, granola bars and whole fruit can be tossed into a sports bag without a problem.
Flow with fluids
Good hydration should begin early in the day before kids even set foot on the playing field. Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water during the day leading up to a game, especially in the two to three hours before game time. Continue to drink during the game (about 1/2 cup every 15 minutes) and afterward to rehydrate after sweat loss. Water should still be kids’ go-to drink for exercise that’s under 60 minutes. Training sessions over an hour may require a sports drink to replace electrolytes lost through heavy sweating.
Timing is everything
When you eat is just as important as what you eat. Your body needs two to three hours to digest a regular meal such as breakfast or lunch before an athletic event, while a small snack such as a granola bar can be eaten 30 minutes to an hour in advance. Load up at meals but don’t overeat, and keep snacks light as you get closer to game time so your body has enough time to digest.
We tell our hitters to prepare a light meal or snack using a healthy combination of carbs and protein. Carbohydrates help fuel our muscles, while protein builds or repairs them. These are great options to have with you in case gametime sneaks up on you and you find yourself hungry, or for a light snack in between games. Some of the foods we’ve seen our hitters eat pre-game or in between games are:
Peanut butter and honey sandwich
Apple slices with cheese and crackers
Granola bar with yogurt
Trail mix of nuts and raisins are examples of a carb-protein balance.
Eating a full meal three to four hours before a game is generally a good approach to give your body plenty of time to digest it. Lean proteins are a great option for a pre-game meal, with the most important thing being to avoid high-fat items that are sure to slow you down on the field. Fries, cheeseburgers and concession food are easy options when you’re at the ballpark all day, but these options often lead to feeling sluggish and slow rather than fast and explosive.
Instead, we encourage our hitters to plan ahead and incorporate these foods into their pre-game meals 3-4 hours before a game:
Fueling your body during the game
The most important thing your body needs while competing is fluids to keep it hydrated. The best source to replenish body fluids is water and the more an athlete sweats, the more they need to hydrate. Not staying hydrated can lead to muscle cramping, fatigue, headaches, and slow reaction time. Try drinking at least 16 ounces of water before a game. Catchers and pitchers need to drink even more fluids than other positions since they are wearing heavy equipment and are in constant movement. Staying conscious of how much water you drink will help in the long run to avoid burnout and muscle injuries. Water is definitely the best option, however Sports drinks can also be a good option if you are looking for an energy boost.
Follow these tips, along with our SwingFit 8 week training program to unlock your power
If you’re serious about being a top level hitter, what you put into your body matters, and specifically how you fuel yourself before and after workouts. Don’t skip meals, or rely on ‘pre-workout’ formulas that you buy and hope it’s good for you. Consuming “whole foods” is going to be your safest and most effective way to fuel your body, as well as following the tips outlined on this page for elite level nutrition. Properly Fueling your body is a critical part of being a top athlete, and cannot be overlooked if you are truly trying to unlock your power.