Nutrition and Derby

This is a blog post I’ve been wanting to write for a while, but have put off because it is such a dauntingly huge subject.  Recently in my coaching and training endeavors, however, the need to discuss nutrition has come up.  First one of my players threw up after a bout because she had not eaten carbs before the bout.  Then, after people saying their muscles were still sore from last week’s off skates workout, I found out that almost no one was eating protein after our workouts.

As a disclaimer, I am not a nutritionist.  Thankfully though there a lot of nutritionists in the world willing to lecture us via the internet and books and shit, so the information is not hard to come by.  Thank you, you pedantic health food bastards, for sharing your knowledge.

I really hope most of you know this, but what you eat is incredibly important to how you perform as an athlete.  Binge drinking coca cola will not prepare your body for endurance exercises.  Starbucks, even though I binge drink that shit like a crack addict, is a terrible choice for pre-workout food.  Your body is an amazingly complex biological machine, and if you feed it junk, your performance will be junk.  It’s best to consistently not eat like shit, but you at least need to plan some nutrition around your practices and workouts if you want to get the most out of them.  Bonnie Thunders’ thighs did not get that way because of Coca Cola.

To keep it simple I’ll go over what you should eat in chronological order, relative to your workout, and then include a few recipes as examples.  For my Germans, I can get you the peanut butter if you can’t find it in the foreign food section.

Before you workout:

Before you workout you need to eat carbohydrates.  Carbohydrates act as the fuel for your body.  When you’re doing exercise that’s more explosive and endurance orientated and it makes you breathe heavily, your body isn’t getting enough oxygen to fuel itself.  This is when it starts breaking down carbohydrates to use as energy.  If you have not eaten any carbohydrates within an hour of working out your body cannot produce enough energy for you, and makes you feel tired and shitty and awful.  It’s important to have both simple and complex carbohydrates so that they are broken down at a steady pace and you have sustained energy.  If you eat sparsely or skip meals before working out, try planning a few days that include a sandwich about 30 minute before your workout so you can feel the different it makes.  Your body needs fuel to perform, and making sure you have that fuel makes a huge difference in your performance.  If you don’t have a lot of time between derby and work, make a sandwich in the morning and bring it with you to eat quickly while you gear up.

It’s also important to eat a banana or something high in potassium.  When your body sweats a lot you lose a lot of potassium, and low potassium could cause general weakness.

If you want to eat protein before because it makes more sense for your schedule, that’s an option too.  What’s most important about nutrition isn’t the exact timing but that you at least get adequate nutrition around the time you workout.  A lot of recipes you’ll see, one of which I’ll include, packs in both the carbohydrates and the protein pre-workout.



During your workout:

Unless you’re workout for a really long time, you shouldn’t have to worry about eating or drinking anything but water.  It’s a good idea to eat a banana or something light during half time of a bout, especially double headers, but as long as you’ve eaten carbohydrates before beginning your workout you should be fine.  If you have a late practice like my Monsters on Monday and don’t have time to eat afterwards, you can always have a protein shake during practice alongside your water, like the one included above.  More on protein in a bit, but creatine is something to think about adding to protein shakes you’ll drink during workouts.  Creatine is a powder supplement that helps to deliver energy to your muscles, so you’ll end up getting more out of your workout with it.

After your workout:

Either during or within an hour of your workout you need to eat protein, because protein helps you to rebuild your muscle.  When you get a good workout and you feel that soreness afterwards, that’s the feeling of micro-tears in your muscle.  The school of thought used to be that it was a lactic acid buildup, but that’s stupid and was found to be wrong.  It’s micro-tears in your muscle, which your body repairs with more muscle using protein.  I’d like to point out that, despite marketing by the dairy industry, my opinion is that there’s no real evidence to support that it needs to be whey protein.  I think it can be any protein.  If you do not eat protein immediately before, during or immediately after your workout then your body starts breaking down lean body mass to repair those micro-tears.  Lean muscle is basically everything but fat.  Muscle, organs, in some cases bone.  Those are not thing you want to be broken down.  If you are not getting enough protein then you are essentially robbing your body of muscle mass because it doesn’t have the materials to repair and build muscle.  I suggest making a fruit smoothie with protein powder, because you can make it ahead of time.  I sometimes drink something called muscle milk, which is just like a pre-made protein drink.  I usually grab one alongside my water on the way to a workout and finish what I haven’t drank already while taking off my gear.  Some nutritionists suggest eating protein no more than fifteen minutes after your workout if you want to build muscle, since blood is circulating more during that time.  My opinion is that eating protein soon after your workout is better, but if you have to wait until you get home then that’s better than nothing.

For the first link in recipes, I suggest including a scoop of protein powder in each shake.  To me those recipes look like enough protein for jogging on the treadmill, not for doing roller derby.



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