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What Volleyball Players Eat!

posted Jan 16, 2015, 2:40 PM by Debbie Sokol   [ updated Jan 16, 2015, 2:52 PM ]
A big part of getting players to perform their best is making sure they’re eating the right things at the right time. 

With the new year fast approaching, we thought it would be a good idea to pass along some info on how players can improve their play by improving their diet. So we went right to the top and got five tips from Dr. Kristine Clark, who is Penn State’s director of sports nutrition.

1. Eat throughout the day 
Athletes need fuel all day. Clark says it’s a good idea for players to eat every two to three hours. “That influences our ability to think because our brain uses glucose, and it’s also the primary fuel for any muscle group.” 

2. Eat immediately after waking up in the morning 
Each day, you are creating a foundation for building your energy stores back up to where they were the day before, Clark says. So don’t skip breakfast. “Skipping breakfast puts you in a serious deficit and you can’t catch up,” Clark says.

3. Timing is everything 
Clark says that athletes need to pay close attention to how their day is going to unfold. “You have to eat before a workout. You have to. (When you eat before a workout), you’ll get more out of the workout because you’ll have available energy. Clark recommends eating one hour before a workout, and she says that what you eat should be heavy on carbohydrates. Some options: fruit and half of a bagel, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, yogurt and fruit, dry cereal or trail mix.

4. Drink before you’re thirsty 
You know you should drink more, but it’s not on their minds because you're not stimulated to drink if you're not thirsty. Clark recommends drinking 32 ounces of water before noon every day and 32 ounces of water before practice.

5. Eat a balance of carbs and proteins after your workout 
"Muscle-cell repair occurs at the fastest rate within the first two hours after a workout", Clark says. She advises her athletes to eat as soon after exercise as possible to facilitate maximum muscle-cell repair. Even a snack will suffice, and the snack needs protein. (the snack) could be anything from nuts to trail mix, a sandwich or even a protein bar. Clark says that it’s best if players start the recovery process just a few minutes after they walk off the court. “So many athletes don’t understand that their muscle cells have undergone some microscopic damage during an intense practice,” Clark says. “There are hormones, one of which is cortisol, that are elevated with intense exercise. The minute you bring protein into the diet, it suppresses that cortisol production, so it really helps prevent soreness and muscle-cell damage. That’s part of the recovery process.”