Love watching the World Series? Ever wonder what all these athletes go through daily to get to where they are and handle the grind of the season? The MLB season is a long, tiring grind; therefore, nutrition is a vital part of each athlete’s daily routine. As half of their season is spent traveling, it’s important for an intake with balance and variety to keep their immune systems strong and promote recovery for the following game.
Each food serves an important purpose and we don’t want to cut any foods out unless necessary for dietary reasons. To keep up with the demands of the season, calorie intake is high and will vary from position to position. For players, such as catchers, calorie needs are higher than those of an outfielder. Reason being, positions that require more movement and energy require more calories versus positions that may not see much action during the game. On top of each position being different, each player is different and digests food differently, therefore, calories vary daily based on workload.
Athletes are encouraged to consume 3 meals/day and 2-3 snacks/day. Consistent intake helps refill energy stores as needed. Our bodies are constantly burning energy. When energy stores are depleted, fatigue occurs at a faster rate which increases the chance of injury, leading to possibly missing games. For these elite athletes, replenishing energy lost is of utmost importance for them to perform each night.
Not only is nutrient intake important; so is hydration. A 2% drop in body weight from fluid losses can increase injury risk up to 20%! With most players expected to be on the field multiple nights in a row, there is no time for injuries.
Want to eat like your favorite athletes? While these athlete’s calorie needs are higher than an average person, you too should aim for balance and variety in your diet! A colorful plate helps to ensure you are getting all the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that keep your body functioning. Whether you are an avid exerciser or not, hydration is also important for your overall health!
---Kylie Hanson, MS, RD, LD is a Registered Dietitian at Rethink Nutrition, LLC. She previously worked as a graduate assistant for Sports Nutrition at Kansas State University where she helped to provide nutrition services to 450+ student athletes.