Baseball players listen up! What you put in your body can truly make all the difference when it comes to how you perform. Eating appropriately for your sport can set you apart from other good players and give you the edge that you need!
As a registered dietitian nutritionist, the best tips I have for baseball players include consuming enough calories to meet your daily energy needs, including plenty of foods rich in vitamins and minerals, staying hydrated, eating a balance of carbohydrates, protein, and fat, and not going long periods without eating.
Read on for more information from a registered dietitian nutritionist about implementing each of these nutrition tips and also for quick snack and meal ideas for those days you are on the go.
What Should Baseball Players Eat During the Day?
In simple terms, baseball players should eat foods that give their body the energy and nutrients that it needs. Baseball players should also eat foods that taste good and are satisfying!
If you have a basic understanding of nutrition principles and how your body uses different nutrients, it will be much easier to know what your body needs.
Healthy Nutrients to Include During the Day
There are certain nutrients that your body needs every day and they each do different things to help your body!
Carbs are your body’s main energy source which makes them super important for baseball players who are very active during the day. Carbohydrates are found in starches like rice, potatoes, bread, pasta, crackers, as well as in fruit and dairy products like milk and yogurt.
So much of your body is made up of protein and eating enough protein at the right times is important for athletes that are wanting to build muscle, prevent injury, and improve recovery time. Protein is found in meat, poultry, fish, eggs, milk, greek yogurt, nuts, nut butters, and soy products.
Most teenage athletes need about 20 grams of protein every 3-5 hours, with an emphasis on protein after a workout. Work with a registered dietitian to determine the amount and timing of protein intake that works best for your body.
Healthy fats like olive oil, avocado, nuts, nut butters, fish, and seeds can help decrease inflammation in the body, help your body absorb vitamins, keep you feeling satisfied when eating, and help meet high energy needs.
Vitamins and Minerals
Vitamins and minerals are involved in every reaction happening in your body. They help with muscle contraction, bone strength, maintaining a healthy immune system, blood clotting, blood pressure control, and so much more!
Did you know that water is actually considered a nutrient? Athletes have higher water needs than the average person because they are moving and sweating more. It is essential that water is replenished along with any electrolytes that are also lost in sweat!
How Many Calories Do Baseball Players Need?
Calorie needs for baseball players can be very different person-to-person based on your age, body composition, and activity level. This means that players might have different energy needs based on what position they play. Whether they are in-season or not, if they are doing additional weight training or other conditioning work, working an active job and other factors can also play into your energy needs.
A good place to start is having 3 meals a day with between 500-1000 calories at each. Then add in 1-3 snacks as needed that have 100-400 calories each. A dietitian can go through your workout schedule and help you figure out how many calories are appropriate for you and a good eating schedule that will help you meet your needs.
Foods Baseball Players Should Avoid
There really aren’t a whole lot of foods that baseball players should avoid. Many athletes have the misconception that they need to cut out all treats and other foods they enjoy in order to play their best.
In reality, restricting foods or food groups can result in obsessive thoughts about that food and could even lead to overeating later on! Additionally, cutting out foods or food groups could even lead to nutrient deficiencies in some athletes.
There are a few foods and beverages that I encourage teenagers to avoid:
- Energy drinks
- Excessive caffeine
- Excessive supplements
- Extremely high amounts of protein from both foods and protein supplements like powders
- Excessive amounts of saturated fats (like those found in fast food)
Hydration Tips for Baseball
If you have no idea how much water you should be drinking, a good rule of thumb is to base your fluid needs on your energy expenditure. I often have people drink 1 mL of water for every 1 calorie they burn.
For example, a baseball player that burns 3000 calories a day will likely need around 3000 mL of water (3 liters). An athlete that burns 3500 calories a day likely will need about 3500 mL of water per day.
If you struggle to drink water during the day, here are a few tips for meeting your fluid needs:
- Keep a water bottle with you at all times. I noticed for myself that having a water bottle with a straw was helpful and encouraged me to drink more.
- Don’t try to overdo it with water in the hours before a game. Instead, focus on being hydrated well in advance and then continue to sip on water before, during, and after the game.
- Liquids like milk, juice, and sports drinks can count toward your water needs.
- Sports drinks might be helpful to use during practices or games to keep you hydrated, as well as give you a boost of carbohydrates and replenish electrolytes lost in sweat.
- Caffeinated beverages are actually dehydrating and increase your water needs.
- Hot weather increases your fluid needs. Keep that in mind as the weather shifts throughout the season.
- Try flavoring your water with lime, lemon, strawberries, cucumber, or mint! It will give a refreshing flavor to your water and increase the likelihood that you will drink it.
- Sip regularly throughout the day rather than chugging a ton in a short amount of time.
Snack Tips for Baseball Players
Snacks are a helpful tool for meeting energy needs, bridging long gaps between meals, and getting a boost before or during a workout. Most of the time, snacks should include a balance of carbohydrates, protein, and fat. The main exception to this is prior to exercise- The closer you get to exercise, the more you will want to focus on carbohydrates and avoid foods that are high in fat or protein.
Choose snacks that nourish your body and make you feel good! You might have to experiment with snacking before exercise to find out what works for you and what provides the most energy and the least discomfort.
One of my best snack tips for athletes is to keep snacks available in different locations. That might mean you store some perishable foods in a coach’s refrigerator at school, and then keep other pantry items in your backpack, locker, car, or sports bag.
Another tip for snacking is to keep a list of balanced snack ideas in the kitchen so that you can look at it for ideas when none of your normal snacks sound appealing.
Quick On-The-Go Snack Ideas
Athletes typically have busy schedules that don’t leave much time for planning and cooking elaborate snacks. Luckily, there are a lot of products out there that are pre-portioned and ready to grab on your way out the door. Even if you buy food in bulk, you can still take a few minutes at the beginning of the week to individually package the foods so that it is quicker to grab on-the-go.
Here are a few ideas for balanced and easy on-the-go snack ideas that you might want to try:
- Hard boiled egg and crackers
- Peanut butter and pretzels
- Apple with almond butter
- Cheese stick and grapes
- Beef Jerky and wheat thins
- Banana with peanut butter
- Trail mix
- Nuts and crackers
- Chocolate milk
- Greek yogurt
- Cottage cheese and crackers
- Triscuits with cheese and deli meat
- 100% fruit juice and nuts
- Protein balls made with seeds, oats, peanut butter, and chocolate chips
- Protein bar and dried fruit
- Nuts and orange slices
- Tuna and crackers
- Bagel with cream cheese
- Toast with peanut butter and jam
- Rolls with ham and cheese
- Peanut butter and jelly sandwich
- Cracker, peppers, and hummus
- Cheese and grapes
- Tortilla chips with salsa and hummus
- Peanut butter crackers
- Beef jerky and blueberries
- Smoothie made with fruit, greek yogurt, and nut butter
When baseball players put in effort to meet their nutrition needs and fuel appropriately for exercise, they truly can have an advantage over those who don’t. They will be less injury-prone, have quicker recovery times, improved energy levels, improved ability to build and strengthen muscle, and more!.
Although there are lots of general tips that I give athletes, meeting with a registered dietitian can make a huge difference in your performance. In a one-on-one setting you can come up with a specific plan to meet your needs, and you can also make sure nothing else is nutritionally missing that could give you an advantage if corrected. If you are looking for a way to take your game to the next level, focusing on your nutrition might be a great place to start.
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