Professional Baseball Strength & Conditioning


Dave Ellis, RD, CSCS, PBSCCS Advisory Board Member, Colorado Springs CO

Dave Ellis is an accomplished Sports Dietitian and President of Sports Alliance, which provides consulting services to athletics and the food industry.  Dave has earned a reputation as a pioneer and leader in the field of applied sports nutrition and is celebrating his 25th year of practice athletics in 2006.   As the Director of Performance Nutrition support services at the collegiate level (20 years combined – Nebraska and Wisconsin Universities), Ellis orchestrated the most highly evolved performance nutrition and body composition support service models in the country.  Dave also Chairs the Nutrition, Metabolism & Body Composition Special Interest Group of the National Strength & Conditioning Association (NSCA) and is an advisor to the Professional Baseball Strength & Conditioning Coaches Society (PBSCCS) Advisory Board, USADA and the Taylor Hooton Foundation.-ed

The second step revealed how carbohydrates are an important part of fueling tactics.  Also presented was the fact that all carbohydrates are not created equal.  In nutrition you have to think about the meals at home and on the road, and be involved with keeping a team or your athlete fueled throughout the year.  It becomes a tactical experience of management.  Fueling tactics is a three-step system.  Every time we write a menu, whether we’re eating at home or on the road, these three steps are accomplished with regard to the food items offered at the meal.   Before moving to step three be sure to review the information presented in step two.  Fueling tactics is all about supporting the athletes through the rigors of the day-to-day, week-to-week, and month-to-month training.  If the athletes have less down time due to illness, better energy levels and faster rates of recovery they will have the potential to outwork the competition.  Smart work, and more of it.

This is the step that most Americans are dialed into with the new food labels that focus on fat grams.  Fat has been focused on because it yields about twice as many calories as carbohydrates or protein, not to mention the well documented relationship with heart disease and some forms of cancer.  That is why Americans have been trying to cut fat by selecting leaner protein sources.  We have classified protein sources as “Best Choice Proteins” if they have 10 grams of fat or less per serving while “Third Choice Proteins” have over 21 grams of fat per serving.

Choosing Protein Sources

On active days athletes have more room in their diets to eat a higher fat protein source from Second or “Third Choice Proteins”. On inactive days athletes who are trying to lower their calorie intakes predominately stick with “Best Choice Proteins”. We typically avoid slow digesting Third Choice Proteins at pre activity meals and instead stick with smaller servings of faster digesting “Best Choice Proteins” that are not highly spiced or smoked.

In addition, we typically eat our last meal two to four hours before intense workouts.  Athletes in training have higher protein requirements and need to distribute a variety of protein sources throughout the day.  To make it easier for an athlete to understand how much protein to eat, we have.gunnertechnetwork.comeloped a table that illustrates how much solid animal protein, dairy and vegetable protein they need on a daily basis.  Many of our male athletes tend to over consume animal protein sources and lack the diversity we are looking for from dairy and vegetable proteins like beans or soy protein isolates.

Vegetable Alternatives

The best quality vegetable proteins come from beans, primarily soy beans.  The health benefits of soy protein are quite unique and varied when compared to animal and dairy proteins.  The amino acid profile is also well suited for athletes as it contains a

high concentration of branched chain amino acids, glutamine and arginine.  This critical cluster of amino acids keeps showing up in research that looks at the protein requirements of hard working populations.  The high digestibility of soy protein isolates makes them the most popular way to get bean protein vs. dealing with the combustible nature of whole beans.

Protein Timing

The reason we ask athletes to distribute their protein intake among these three sources throughout the day is to help keep our athlete’s capacity for work high, while helping the efficiency of recovery.  We all know what it feels like to skip meals, then over eat later.  We feel like we need to take a nap, like after eating at Thanksgiving.

Starving all day and then over eating at night will not only lower your energy level, but also set your body up to store fat more efficiently.  Athletes are better off eating smaller amounts of food more frequently to avoid energy lows, while continually supplying the raw materials into the blood necessary for the never ending recovery process that athletes endure.

Putting it all together

All the menus we write for our athletes offer a variety of foods from each of these three steps.  To make it easier for our athletes to select foods from all three steps we actually have three separate buffets.  We group and merchandise Step #1 food first in the buffet, Step #2 foods second and Step #3 foods in the last.  Foods are also labeled so the athletes can see exactly what they are getting with regards to being a good source of vitamins A,C or E or a best, second or third choice carbs or protein. This approach also makes it easy for parents to pull together pregame meal buffets by assigning some parents one item from each step and then building a buffet in order.  Amazingly enough, just the order athletes see the food in a buffet can impact the quality of the meal they build even if they have learned these Three Winning Steps on the Performance Meal Guide Poster.

Maybe it is now easier for you to see the shortfall that constantly eating from vending machines or fast food drive throughs can create for athletes. A number four, at the drive thru diet, just isn’t going to cut it on a daily basis.  Take the time to use the Three Winning Step Shopping List so you can build healthier meals at home or pack them to go.

Article provided by Performance Conditioning Baseball/Softball the Official Publication of the Professional Baseball Strength and Conditioning Coaches Society







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