You've been working hard on your game. Your handles, your jump shot, your pull-up J -- it's all coming together. That's great, keep at it!
But there's an area of improved performance that most people don't even consider: nutrition.
Eating right will help you perform at your highest. It will help with recovery from tough games, practices, and lifting sessions. Proper nutrition is also HUGE in putting on strength and size. After all, you can't build a bigger house (body) without having enough bricks (calories).
Let's Be Realistic
I'd love to sit here and tell you that I want you to have a few servings of chicken breasts and broccoli everyday. But I'd bet on the Washington Generals winning a title before I'd bet on the chicken breast/broccoli combo happening with any consistency. I mean, I have a difficult enough time getting my adult clients to follow my nutrition advice. There's no way I'm getting a 16-year old that is used to eating fast food, soda, and Twinkies (as their staple), to jump on the lean protein, fruit 'n veggie, healthy carb and healthy fat bandwagon.
With that in mind, it's going to take some work to make this whole nutrition thing work for you, rather than against you. Let's find out how to make it happen.
It Doesn't Have To Taste Bad
When most people think of healthy food, they think of boring, bland and nasty tasting food (i.e. the chicken and broccoli mentioned above). Well I'm here to tell you it doesn't have to be that way. There are many great recipes out there that are both healthy AND tasty. I believe Gourmet Nutrition is the best resource out there that delivers that coveted tasty and healthy combination. At our house, we make meals that come from this cookbook on a weekly basis.
Tip No. 1: Find a way to make healthy foods taste good. It is the only way (for most people) that you are going to stay with it over the long haul.
Parents/Coaches: It's Time To Step Up
Parents are the ones that are bringing the food home. So it is up to them to supply their children with fuel that will contribute to improving their kid's health and performance. It is pretty difficult for the athlete to properly fuel their body when they open their cupboards up to a bunch of chips and other snacks.
And coaches, you have the ability to lead by example. If your athletes see a coach that works out and eats healthy, the chances of him/her following your lead goes way up.
Tip No. 2: Parents and coaches, you have the ability to influence your kids in positive, or negative manner when it comes to living a healthy lifestyle. The choice is yours.
Cook In Bulk
This tip is quick and to the point. Teenagers seem to have a bottomless gut! If you cook for just the meal at hand, then you'll be falling behind. With all of the games and practices kids play, they NEED to constantly be eating good quality foods. The easiest and most convenient way to do this is to cook in bulk and store the leftovers for later. This seems like such a simple tip but believe me, this can make or break you nutrition-wise.
Tip No. 3: When cooking, cook for the meal at hand, and make extra for the next few days to come. This will make life so much easier, and increase your chances for "nutrition success."
If eating healthy is just too boring for you, look into the Gourmet Nutrition cookbook. Parents and kids NEED to work together to make the above tips work. Together, you CAN use nutrition to help take your game to the next level!