Lacrosse players burn a lot of calories during practice and games. Lacrosse has often been called “the fastest sport on two legs” and players need the proper nutrition to fuel their bodies for the demands they place upon it. Failure to eat and hydrate properly during a busy season is a real problem that can lead to muscle cramps, fatigue and other symptoms.
Meals need to be balanced and players must understand that carbs and fats are not dirty words. Healthy fats come from foods that encompass nuts, seeds, and olive oil-based dressings. Athletes can obtain the healthy carbs they need through foods that includes quinoa, sweet potatoes and brown rice, along with whole wheat cereals, breads and pasta.
A balanced diet also consists of lean protein and a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. Ensuring meals contain those all those elements in the proper balance can be as easy as following the new “MyPlate” recommendation from the United States Dept. of Agriculture that has replaced the old “Food Pyramid.
Pre-game meals should be eaten 3-4 hours before a game and include lean protein, carbs and plenty of hydration. Pre-game snacks consumed 30-60 minutes before the game are also beneficial. Good choices would be items such as protein bars, fruit or crackers. Players should also take every opportunity to stay hydrated with water or sports drinks.
Snacks are just as important for athletes and today’s preservation methods provide players with a myriad of portable, shelf-stable snack options. Lacrosse players can choose from jerky, nuts and trail mix, tuna, freeze-dried fruit, and energy bars. Don’t underestimate the value of fresh fruit such as bananas, oranges and apples.
Maintaining appropriate nutrition for top performance doesn’t stop during holidays and traditional school breaks, and the off season. However, players do have more latitude in what they eat. At least 90 percent of game season nutrition should be maintained. To accommodate all the down time and parties, lacrosse players should be careful to maintain hydration and not starve themselves in anticipation of festivities.