Sean Van Staden
Columnist
3 minute read
24 May 2014
2:00 pm

The step by step nutritional game plan

Sean Van Staden

Last week I took you down memory lane about how teams that are generally the best in the league always seem to finish anywhere but on top.

Sean van Staden

Poor nutrition and lack or recovery have been behind this and ultimately the cause of some of the biggest upsets.

I decided to follow up on some tips for tournament winning nutrition.

Prepare: Preparation is the key to success and if you are willing to spend all that money going on tour, a few days of preparation is worth its weight in gold.

Make sure you start at least a week ahead and focus on reducing your simple carbohydrate intake. Excessive carbs hamper your recovery time and hinder mental focus.

Snacks: Leave that shiny vending machine alone and bring your own snacks.

Typically you will be playing quite a few short intensive games and your energy consumption will be higher.

Pack lean biltong, berries, watermelon, cheese sticks, sunflower seeds and a mixed bag of nuts containing almonds, cashew nuts and pistachios.

Stay away from most things that have the word “bar” behind them – breakfast bar, energy bar – they contain tons of sugar which will make you lethargic on the field.

Your best time for snacks is between games which will help keep your energy levels constant.

Breakfast: When you think of breakfast you must think of two things, protein and healthy fats.

It will be hard since you have been classically conditioned to find supposedly the “healthy” choice through cereals which in most cases have been genetically modified over the years for mass production and not to mention full of colourants.

An ideal breakfast would be starting with a glass of water then look to foods that are high in protein such as boiled eggs, peanut butter, cottage cheese, tuna, chicken breasts, sirloin steak, full cream yoghurt and full cream milk.

You are allowed to add your almonds and sunflower seeds to breakfast because this will give you a great start to the day.

When I mention healthy fats, I am not talking about fried oils, but rather foods that are going to sustain your energy for longer. Since protein and fats take longer to digest than carbs, you will have vooma in your tank for longer.

Lunch: Grease will most definitely be on the lunch menu. If you really have to eat at the tuckshop, then order a steak or boerewors roll, but ditch the roll.

If you are still hungry, just order another one.

Both are fine to eat and provided you boost them with muscle building and repairing proteins.

Fluids and being well hydrated are key to long tournaments. Try stick to water as much as possible, but if you feel like something fizzy then try a low GI Grapetiser.

Stay away from sports drinks and cola’s because they are guaranteed to reduce your performance on the field.

Supper: Supper is relatively easy … You are about to play in the semifinals and finals the next day and you need every advantage you can get.

Proteins, vegetables and salads are what’s going to give the physical and mental edge to compete at a top level. For dessert, you can reward yourself with a fruit salad with a dash of full cream.

Recovery: Get at least eight to nine hours of quality sleep. I know it is hard since there is so much happening around you. Sleep is critical to help reset your mind and help your body recover from a long and hard day’s event.

One of the most important aspects of an athlete’s performance is nutrition.

It can cost teams dearly. Prepare well, keep strict dietary discipline and when the tournament is over, you can hold up your gold medal in the one hand and a slice of pizza in the other.