Nutrition for Baseball to Throw Harder

Performance Nutrition for Dummies – Reviewing the Basics

  • September 22, 2015 /

By Eric Potter

As a college strength coach who deals with baseball players coming right out of high school and having no idea what to eat, when to eat, and why they need to eat certain things, the first part of my job is to educate them on these things and make it as simple to understand and follow as possible. You could give a high school or college athlete the most ideal nutrition program out there, but unless someone is following them all day and making all their food for them, 99% of those will not follow it.

Therefore, this post today will cover each of these things on a simple level for youth players all the way up to professional players. These are the basic guidelines for gaining weight and maintaining or increasing lean muscle. Those two things don’t always go together, but if you get the basics of nutrition down, THEN you can progress to the more complex things such as nutrient timing, supplements, glycemic index, and other fun stuff to help performance (which could be covered in a later post).

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What do I eat?

This is the biggest question I get asked in terms of nutrition, and I try and make it as simple as possible for everybody to be able to follow based on budget, taste preferences, etc. Try and eat as “natural” as possible, which means to eat foods with the fewest ingredients on the nutrition label.   Here are several main things we should focus on:

  • Consume AS MANY fresh (OR Frozen with no added sugars / salts) vegetables and fruits as possible. They are loaded with carbs, fiber, vitamins, and minerals to give you energy and keep your cells healthy and you can eat as many as you want daily. Spinach, Kale, Asparagus, Broccoli, Blueberries, Apples, Cherries, and Bananas are some of the best options.
  • Eat some sort of lean animal protein with every meal (chicken breast, steak, turkey, fish, eggs, lunch meat, milk) to make sure you are getting enough protein to help with muscle growth and recovery.
  • Good carbs to eat would be red potatoes, sweet potatoes, rice, quinoa, and couscous.
  • Adding calorie rich healthy snacks (avocado, nuts, jerky, almond butter) and liquid calories (protein shakes, milk, smoothies) are great ways to add more calories to your daily intake.
  • Good fats to use in general are coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil, avocado oil, and butter. Try and stay away from vegetable oil, canola oil, margarine, and fully / partially hydrogenated oils.
  • Drink as much water as possible. A gallon of water is a good goal to shoot for to stay hydrated and to help with body fatigue and regulation of body weight.
  • If you are trying to gain more weight, just increase the portion size of everything you eat, which means eat more of everything than you normally would. For example, if you have a glass of milk with dinner every night, drink two full glasses of milk every night. That would be an extra 150- 300 calories per day, which could be an extra 2000 calories for the week if you did that every day.

Like I said previously, this is a good place to start. Some of these options are not ideal, but for a college or high school athlete with a limited budget and limited initial knowledge on nutrition, they will benefit from following these simple guidelines.

When should I eat?

For the normal baseball athlete who has school or class in the mornings and then practice in the afternoon, it can be tough to get enough calories throughout the day and to get into a good schedule. Here are some suggestions:

  • Always eat a good amount of calories for breakfast and lunch and then crush as many calories as possible for dinner. This is due to the fact that you always will have more free time at dinner time and can really concentrate on getting as many calories as possible.
  • Bring snacks throughout the day to make sure you are getting all the calories and nutrients you need and to maintain energy levels throughout the day.
  • Some athletes do not like to eat breakfast, but this is an essential time of the day to get calories and nutrients in the body to prepare physically and mentally for the rest of the day. GET UP AND EAT SOMETHING EVERY MORNING WITH PROTEIN, CARBOHYDRATES, AND FATS.

Why am I eating?

  • As a young athlete, the first main goal for eating is to consume enough calories to maintain or gain weight. On a simple level, young athletes with a fast metabolism should be eating at least as many calories as they would burn throughout the day to maintain their weight, and consume more calories than they burn to gain weight. Everybody is different and responds differently to things, but this is a general outline. From my experience, athletes that think they are eating enough to gain weight are consuming nowhere close to the calories they need to gain weight due to how many calories they burn practicing their sport, working out, and generally having fast metabolisms.Pfc. Joshua Reed (right), a motor transportation operator with 2nd Radio Battalion, Task Force Belleau Wood, eats his cherry pie during the pie-eating competition at the TFBW Praetorian Challenge aboard Camp Leatherneck, Helmand province, Nov. 26. Over 50 coalition troops took part in the event, which consisted of teams from different units within TFBW competing in events such as tug-of-war and the pie-eating contest. Reed and his teammate, Sgt. Edward Butler, finished in third place.

TAKEAWAY – EAT EVEN MORE CALORIES THAN YOU THINK YOU NEED TO GAIN WEIGHT / MASS.

  • The second main purpose of eating is to nourish your body and all the billions of cells that are needed for your bodily functions. As an athlete, we deplete a lot of our nutrients through practice, conditioning, lifting, etc. We need to replenish all of the vitamins, minerals, water, and macronutrients in order to function properly. For everything you eat, think about “How is this helping me to be a better baseball athlete? Are their vitamins or minerals in it? Does it have protein or carbs?” If you do not know these answers, a little research on the benefits of the foods you eat could help you learn and benefit you in the future.

TAKEAWAY – THINK OF EVERYTHING YOU EAT AS NOURSIHING YOUR CELLS TO HELP YOU PERFORM BETTER.

In conclusion, nutrition is one of the most important, yet underutilized aspects of optimal performance. Gaining weight, getting the right nutrients, and consuming calories to provide energy should all be part of a comprehensive program to develop strength and power that should translate to the baseball field. This should be a general guideline of ways to help gain weight and understand what you should be eating, when you should be eating, and a couple reasons why you are eating.

 

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