This is obviously focused towards our older athletes and some that are just leaving the game. It may come as no surprise, but when you get up in age your nutrition strategies have to be much more focused and attention to detail is paramount. When you are young you have more wiggle room for nutritional blunders. As long as you are getting the right stuff in, the extra stuff doesn’t matter as much. When you are a little bit older that is no longer the case. Below are some things I have begun to appreciate even more now that I am in my mid-thirties.
The less active you are and the older you get, the more focus has to be placed on what you eat. No matter how hard most of us try, we cannot maintain the time commitment that we once had to physical activity as when we were younger. Along with getting a bit older our metabolism starts to slow compared to our younger years. Now this is no time to start having an emotional breakdown, it is just time to make slight adjustments in your nutrition game. So here we go!
1. Watch your sodium intake. When you were a teenager that pizza didn’t give you dry mouth during the night like it does today. Why do you feel the need to put a gallon of water on your night stand after having a sushi feast? The combination of sodium and carbohydrate tends to pull water out of the cells at a much higher rate now as it did when I was younger. I’m not sure about the physiology, but I’m sure it is happening. Keep an eye on your sodium and carbohydrate combo intake and make sure to drink plenty of water. Let’s just say a gallon a day for a nice round number.
2. Reduce or eliminate refined grains. I’m talking bagels, cookies, pasta, pastries, rolls and anything else you can think of. I’ll stick my 2 cents on carbohydrates here. As you get older and become less active (You are not as active as you were when you were a teenager) you have to adjust the amount of carbohydrate you consume. On days when you are more active, have more carbohydrates and on days that you are less active, have less. And these carbohydrates should come in the form of high value nutrients such as sweet potatoes, steel cut oats, black beans, bananas and brown rice.
3. Avoid added sugar. This is probably the number one killer in the U.S. today and is consumed at alarming levels compared to past decades. Cane sugar is a carbohydrate and as mentioned before it decreases hydration level. It is recommended that the average American consume less than 20g of added sugar daily. There goes your morning coffee! Do yourself a favor and try to wean yourself off this stuff.
4. Fried food will no longer agree with you. Fried food has never been good for you, but it is amazing the things we can get away with when we are young. Your body no longer accepts junk food as a viable means of nutrients. This includes foods that have been fried and brought back to room temperature such as potato and tortilla chips. Anything that lists oil on its packaging has likely been in the fryer.
5. Limit your alcohol consumption. Since alcohol consumption is illegal until you are 21 yrs of age this would only be the appropriate time to discuss it. Alcohol turns off ant-diuretic hormonal which leads to dehydration. It also promotes increases in the hormone estrogen, in essence decreasing the ratio of testosterone to estrogen. This is a bad combination for any athlete that requires explosive speed and strength to perform at their best. Limit alcohol consumption to 2-3 drinks a week in your off-season, if at all.
That’s my top five. Comment below and let me know if I missed any of your favorites
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