You are what you eat! When doing all the hard training, it is critical you fuel your body to perform but how well do you eat to win? I find many athletes are often confused as to what constitutes an energizing, healthy diet to support their hard training. Great advances have been made in the sports nutrition industry but taking nutritional supplements also carries risk of contamination and does not automatically guaranteed optimum nutrition. Seeking expert advice is thus essential. There are no excuses for a poor diet as this is one factor you really can control.
To identify how well you are fuelling your engine, I would recommen￼d you complete a 7 day food diary which includes everything you eat and drink, and not just the names of the foods, but the exact portion sizes of them. I remember asking Merv Hughes, one of my former clients, the great Australian fast bowler, to do this for me and send back to me in detail all he ate for the week.
Well he did not know the weight of the portions but as I had clearly stipulated I needed to know the size of the portions. After all, we were on a mission – to lose 30kg before the Ashes Tour. I had obviously made my point as in the mail a week later came this huge document for me to analyse which included pages of pictures with the size of the steak drawn for me and the size of the portions of vegetables, etc. No detail was left unturned. He even included the colour of the jelly beans, red, yellow and green!
I would also recommend a full blood and urine analysis to check for any deficiencies or imbalances you may have. I see this a bit like a grease and oil change you have completed on your car. If you were using your car a lot and being demanding on it, then you would most likely have a check completed every six months. I find it fascinating that some athletes look after their sports cars better than they do their own bodies! Your nutritionist will be able to give you specific feedback related to your individual dietary needs and general dietary habits. Be sure to see someone that specializes in sports nutrition as the needs of athletes are very different.
I also have my top professional athletes have their amino acids tested individually. When I began doing this back in the 80’s, it was not possible to have them all tested in Australia so we would be sending blood samples off to a laboratory in the US to get analysed. As this lab worked with so many sports, the medical doctors conducting the analyses would always relate it back to the athlete knowing and understanding their needs.
The results were spot on and minor dietary adjustments paid great dividends on and off the field. Be careful of some tests on the market and the claims they make, such as hair analysis for mineral status. Always check the research and make sure it is not all antecdotal evidence with no proven research behind it conducted on humans.