So it’s been awhile since I’ve really actually written on here, and I apologize for that. I know you guys have been dying to see what I’m going to write about next, and it’s been so long that you just about can’t take it anymore the anticipation is killing you so much (if only, eh). Well, you’re in luck, because now I’m back to writing and you can be happy again.
Why such the long break, you ask?
Blame it on the holidays. I’ve been a bit of a nomad as of late, traveling to what seemed like everywhere, and have been busy and away from my computer as such. Let me give you an idea. I had to head up to the frozen tundra in Baudette for Christmas, came home for a few days (in which I attended more Christmas shindigs), then embarked on a cross country road trip to move a buddy out to Seattle, finally to return late last night (UPDATE: the writing gods have been against me as of late, and this was set to publish on Monday, however after WordPress decided to delete half of my words the post was pushed back, my apologies). Along the way, I noticed that I was forced to eat many meals at gas stations and fast food joints. I typically hate fast food and gas station grub because its not particularly healthy, doesn’t stick with you, and makes me feel like a lethargic, rotting bum. On all the road trips I take I make every attempt I can to eat somewhat healthy.
This trip was no different, and then it dawned on me. What if I had thought about this when I was playing? Would my performance have been better? Would I have felt better? I kept coming back to these questions over and over during the trip (and believe me, I had plenty of time to think about it, do you know how big Montana is?) and I could not think of a single reason why I would not have played better. In all honesty, it makes sense. The right fuel makes the machine run better. The only sticking point I found on the trip was that I was not always sure of what I should be eating. I mean, from studying nutrition in college I know what to look for, but even then it is tough to really know what to grab on the road. And this is now. When I was in high school and early college, I had literally ZERO idea of what I should put into my body. I would just choose whatever I felt like eating during that time.
I distinctly remember an instance my freshman year of college. My team was headed out to Denver on a bus to play in the national tournament. The trip was something like 14 hours and we weren’t about to stop for an entire lacrosse team to sit down at a restaurant and eat. We stopped at gas stations instead. My choices went something like this: Snickers, Gatorade, Milk, Gardettos, donuts. Needless to say, I didn’t feel like a million bucks by the time we rolled up to our hotel in Denver. That was the last time I ever made that mistake. The point I am trying to make here is that if you pay just a little attention to what you are eating on your road trip, your body and your coach will thank you for it.
“Okay sweet, I’ll eat better, but then what the heck should I be eating?”
Rather than starting with an onslaught of foods to eat (because, let’s be honest there are A LOT of them) I’m going to highlight foods to stay away from. The biggest thing to avoid on a road trip is processed food. Gas station burritos, taquitos, hotdogs, and personal pizzas may look great and sometimes even taste great, but they are not great for you. Processed foods will get you about as far as a quarter-pounder (royale explicit!) with cheese. You also want to stay away from overly sugary or empty calorie foods. As chance would have it, these foods also tend to be processed. Chips, candy bars, Gardettos, and other snacks are for all intents and purposes, worthless game fuel.
Our country is obese, it is a sad fact, yet a fact that helps out an athlete. As health consciousness has come more into the forefront of society, more healthful foods have sprung up in places that were devoid of them a few years ago. Fresh fruits, salads, and veggies are now available at gas stations; and guess what? They are great foods to eat on a road trip! On top of those wholesome energy choices, protein bars such as Clif Bar and PowerBar are available at gas stations. They will provide you with a hearty amount of protein, free from the crap accompanying the microwave burrito. Naked and Odwalla smoothies are great resources packed with nutrients, and they come in protein varieties as well. Muscle Milk and other protein drinks are available at gas stations these days for an extra punch of protein. There is also the tried and true, the original protein drink, milk, available at just about every gas station in the US and Canada (if you come across a gas station that doesn’t sell milk be sure to send me a picture, otherwise I’ll stick with being right). Hydration is just as important as fuel. When buying a drink, stick to the same principles as above and stay away from processed drinks. Opt for coconut water, or smart water, you get all the electrolytes without the processed sugar. Gatorade tastes good, sure, but other choices make for better game fuels. If you HAVE to pick a sports drink, Vitamin Water makes for a better option than Gatorade or PowerAde. One thing is forsure, stay away from soda.
When you think about it, a gas station is like a mini grocery store. Here’s what I would buy for my optimal menu:
Apple, mixed veggies or salad, Clif Bar, Naked Green Machine Smoothie, Water
Coconut Water, Banana, Clif Builders Bar, Milk
In my choices I went for a nutrient packed pre-game meal. Full of fuel and nutrients to power and nurish my body, but free of any bulk that would sit in my stomach. For the post-game meal I opted for the protein bar over the protein drink because a bar has more calories, if you are getting calories from another place, then a protein drink would work just fine. I also threw the milk in there because although the Builder Bar claims to deliver 20g protein, I would be surprised if that were the case. Milk also provides a few more calories and more liquids to replenish my water loss, and neither of those would hurt to have in slight excess.
That’s it for this installment, stay tuned for another eating on the road installment discussing what to do when you come across fast food.
As always, anything to add or ask me, drop a comment.