The summer is winding down, but the humidity is through the roof. In the distance, you can hear the faint sounds of helmets cracking off one another, whistles blowing endlessly, and coaches trying to snap their players in shape for the season.
But no matter where you go, there are surely some high school football players dogging their practices because they are out of shape and not used to the training. And this is all too common. So in this first installment of the "football diaries," I'm going to outline the best mode of preparation nutritionally speaking.
Since different players obviously play different roles, and lineman should naturally be larger than running backs, for example, I will first discuss how to help your body be the best it can be if you're on the line.
Be The Best Lineman You Can Be
Let's first assume your training is excellent; you have sound guidance from knowledgeable coaches and you are training safely and effectively.
In the future, I'll outline a sound training program. Now it's time to talk about what goes in your body. Just like you wouldn't drive your car with the cheapest sludge you can put in the tank, you shouldn't put "cheap sludge" into your body either. If you're a gifted athlete despite your poor habits, consider how good you would be if you fueled your body well.
Football linemen not only need to be strong, but quick, too. So while lineman are typically seen as larger, sometimes high body fat athletes, it would be better if they were leaner, but still able to maintain that strength. The best way to gain strength is not through any supplements, but rather through diet. Eating an optimal amount of calories will allow you to gain weight.
If you want to put on some size, but not massive amounts of fat mass, I recommend increasing what you're currently eating by 500 calories each day. That may sound like a lot, but it is as easy as a yogurt and peanut butter and jelly sandwich, or maybe a couple extra glasses of milk each day. Dried fruit and nuts make a great snack, too.
Remember that it's important what type of calories you are consuming; the ultimate goal is healthfully putting on lean body mass. Therefore, lean proteins, whole grains, and healthy fats are optimal. Don't try to gain weight by ordering extra supersized meals; that will not work in your favor.
So let's say you're a high school athlete who is trying to gain some weight to start on the varsity squad. Remember, as a lineman, you don't necessarily have to be as lean as a back, but you also don't want to resemble Fat Albert and lose your quickness and agility.
It's first most important to start off the day with a sound breakfast; something like oatmeal, eggs, and fruit would be great. Next, keep some healthy granola bars or my personal favorite, Clif Bars, in your locker; neither needs to be refrigerated and they add a healthy few hundred calories to your diet. If possible I would recommend packing your lunch. This way you have much more control over what's going into your mouth.
Tuna sandwiches on whole grain bread are great sources of lean protein and calories. Peanut butter and banana is another great sandwich idea. Throw in a piece of fruit and buy yourself a carton of milk and you're doing great so far for the day. Now depending on what time your lunch period is, you may need to eat something else before practice (assuming your practice was like mine and right after school). If so, a piece of fruit works great for some healthy, quick energy.
Then as soon as practice is over, you need to eat something as soon as possible. There are a number of products designed specifically for post-workout recovery; however, it's not the only option. Low-fat chocolate milk is a personal favorite post-workout recovery product; it's inexpensive and tastes great. Drink about 2 cups to get a nice hefty dose of carbohydrates along with some protein, too.
Then try your best to have a sound dinner; if your friends insist on stopping at a fast food restaurant, make the best choice possible, such as grilled chicken without a side of fries. Finally, if you haven't quite met your daily caloric goal, have a small evening snack to "top off the tank."
Keep in mind that I didn't even touch the iceberg regarding fluid intake. Remember that not only will your performance be negatively affected, but it could actually be dangerous for your health.
In fact, hydration needs an article on its own and will get just that in the near future.
So The Keys To Successfully Gaining Weight Are:
- Slowly increase your calories.
- Monitor your performance and appearance (limit the fat and enhance the lean body mass).
- Monitor your health.
Give some of the suggested foods above, keep a food journal to help you monitor your intake and determine what or what is not working. Good luck and here's to an excellent season.