Fueling for Performance
5 Steps to Fueling a Playoff Team
Leslie Bonci, MPH, RD, CSSD, nutrition consultant for a professional football team heading to the playoffs, shares what she keeps top-of-mind when fueling her athletes:
- Football players are always in a state of prepare: for the next workout, practice or game – or repair: from the physical activity they just completed. Sports nutrition is part of the internal equipment to help a player prioritize, strategize and optimize performance.
- The consistency of meals, as well as quality and quantity of foods and fluids consumed, can enhance performance to keep players at the top of their game in the postseason and into the playoffs.
- Playing in the cold can wreak havoc on hydration as players don’t feel as thirsty as they might in warmer weather. So, it’s important to get strategic with fluid choices – opting for soups, “souper” shots, oatmeal and chili as ways to hydrate and warm simultaneously.
- As the season goes on, stress of all kinds increases and can be prolonged. So, we emphasize foods that support a strong immune system, and reinforce adequacy in macronutrient intake (e.g. carbs, protein, healthy fats), as well as intake of the micronutrients and phytonutrients from produce.
- Since football is a game of contact and impact, it’s important to highlight foods that provide comfort.
Potatoes check all these boxes. A medium (5.3 ounce) skin-on potato provides 26 g of carbohydrates. Players need carbohydrates to perform at their best, and the versatility of potatoes, including serving them in a soup or with chili, also provides comfort on the plate that can’t be beat during the postseason.
New Resources for Nutrition Professionals
All types of sports and stages of activity require adequate fuel and energy for recovery. The different carbohydrate and protein needs of strength, team sport and endurance athletes, and the different goals for fueling pre-, during- or post- activity might seem complex. Now, a new resource developed with Amy Goodson, MS, RD, CSSD, compiles this information into one helpful chart. This useful resource also highlights potato fueling ideas for each stage of activity with recipes that are available on PotatoesFuelPerformance.com.
Adam Virgile, CSCS, developed this infographic illustrating the findings of a new paper, “High-Quality Carbohydrates: A Concept in Search of a Definition,” published in Nutrition Today last month. A panel of carbohydrate researchers, educators, clinicians, and food chemists discussed the concept of carbohydrate quality and the many factors that should be considered when assessing the quality of a carbohydrate-containing food or meal. The panel and study manuscript were supported by funds from the Alliance for Potato Research and Education. The panel of experts are aligned that carbohydrate quality is a multifactorial issue and that no one or two metrics accurately define the quality of a carbohydrate-containing food. The panel did not, however, reach a consensus on a definition and more research on the factors that can be used to assess carbohydrate quality is needed. The infographic is a useful resource to illustrate the many factors that impact what constitutes a high-quality carbohydrate.
Nutrition professionals looking for training table materials or fueling station handouts that reinforce how potatoes fuel performance will find these two new resources useful: Hash Brown Power Bowl and Power-Packed Potato Developed by Anthony Zamora, RD, an executive chef of a professional sports team, these materials can also be distributed to athletes, posted in the dining hall/cafeteria, given to team chefs and dining staff to guide meals, provided to coaches to reinforce performance nutrition and used in presentations.
Potatoes in the News
Potatoes are Making a Comeback – WebMD
5 Seemingly Unhealthy Foods that are Actually Good for You – NBC Better