As high school athletes, achieving peak performance on the field or court requires more than just hard work and talent. Proper nutrition and recovery play a crucial role in enhancing athletic performance and overall well-being. Here are 3 of the most common nutrition and recovery mistakes made by high school athletes with actionable goals to help them improve their recovery and by default enhance their performance and decrease likelihood of injury
1. Inconsistent Sleep Patterns:
One prevalent mistake many high school athletes make is inconsistent sleep patterns. It’s not only about getting enough sleep but also maintaining a regular sleep schedule to establish a healthy circadian rhythm for better quality rest. The circadian rhythm, regulates various physiological processes, including sleep-wake cycles and hormone secretion. This is vital for recovery
sleep consistency ensures higher-quality sleep, allowing athletes to wake up feeling refreshed and ready to perform at their best. Inconsistent sleep patterns can lead to an imbalance in deep sleep and REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep, both of which are critical for hormone regulation and effective recovery.
To improve sleep consistency, consider implementing the following actionable goals:
• Avoid exposure to blue lights, such as phones, computers, and televisions, at least one hour before bedtime. Blue light emitted by these devices can disrupt the production of melatonin, the hormone responsible for inducing sleep.
• Refrain from long-term melatonin use as it may disrupt natural sleep patterns and reduce the body’s ability to produce melatonin on its own. Instead, focus on creating a sleep-friendly environment to promote a natural sleep-wake cycle.
• Incorporate a relaxing activity, like taking a hot bath or shower, before bedtime to unwind and signal to your body that it’s time to wind down for sleep. The hot bath or shower actually makes the body start cooling itself after the fact which helps to push you into sleep. As you fall asleep your body temperature naturally cools down and as you warm up it naturally increases in temperature. So hot baths at night promote sleep and cold showers in the morning actually promote feeling awake because your body will naturally heat up after a cold shower.
2. Insufficient Hydration:
Another common mistake among high school athletes is not drinking enough water to stay adequately hydrated. Proper hydration is essential for maintaining overall health and optimizing athletic performance. Dehydration can lead to decreased energy levels, impaired cognitive function, and decreased physical performance.
Our general recommendation is to consume 0.7 ounces of water per pound of body weight daily. However, this guideline may vary depending on the intensity and duration of physical activity and external factors such as climate and temperature. For athletes engaging in intense physical activities or exercising in hot weather, additional hydration is essential to replace the fluids lost through sweat and ensure proper bodily functions. Think of the 0.7 X body weight=ounces of water per day as you baseline.
To ensure proper hydration try this.
• Invest in a gallon jug or container to track your daily water intake accurately. Having a visible reminder of your hydration goals can help you stay accountable and ensure you are meeting your water intake targets. Don’t relay on water bottles you won’t be as consistent in hitting this mark.
• Add a pinch of pink Himalayan salt to your water or use LMT sodium supplement. This addition helps to maintain electrolyte balance, aids water absorption in the body, and prevents dehydration, especially during intense training sessions or hot weather conditions.
• For every hour of intense physical activity, add 16 ounces of water to your daily intake on top of the recommended 0.7 ounces per pound of body weight. This additional hydration ensures that you stay adequately replenished during extended periods of exertion.
3. Insufficient Protein Intake:
High school athletes often overlook the importance of consuming enough protein to support muscle recovery and growth. Protein is a crucial macronutrient that provides the building blocks (amino acids) necessary for muscle repair and synthesis, making it vital for athletes aiming to maximize their athletic potential.
Eating one gram of protein per pound of body weight is a tried and true recommendation for athletes seeking to optimize their recovery and strength-building efforts. However, many high school athletes may struggle to meet this target due to various reasons, such as being out of their routine during school or when traveling for sports.
To improve protein intake, here’s some of our reccomendations.
• Use the MyFitnessPal app to track your protein consumption for a week or two, ensuring you meet the recommended intake. Keeping a food diary can help you identify any gaps in your protein consumption and allow you to make necessary adjustments to meet your protein goals. Yes this means a little bit of work and honesty in your diet. Most athletes don’t even know what has protein in it so this is a great way to educate yourself!
• Avoid skipping meals and aim to have three meals by 3 PM and five meals by 9 PM. Spreading your protein intake throughout the day ensures a steady supply of amino acids for muscle repair and prevents your body from breaking down muscle tissue for energy. Your body can only absorb so much protein at once so spreading it out throughout the day ensures better absorption of protein.
• Include a significant source of protein in each meal, such as lean meats, poultry, fish, eggs, or protein-rich dairy products like yogurt, cottage cheese, or whole milk.
• Incorporate a protein shake into your daily routine, either after workouts or in the early afternoon. Protein shakes are a convenient and efficient way to boost your protein intake, especially on busy training days when preparing whole meals may be challenging. This protein shake can also count towards your meal count.
As high school athletes, avoiding these three common nutrition and recovery mistakes can significantly impact your performance on and off the field. By delving deeper into the importance of sleep consistency, proper hydration, and sufficient protein intake, you can optimize your athletic potential and ensure you’re always ready to perform at your best.
Remember, small changes in your nutrition and recovery habits can lead to significant improvements in your athletic performance and overall well-being. By setting and achieving these actionable goals, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a healthier and more successful high school athlete. If you take your sport seriously and want to reach the next level this is an absolute must!