The athlete should attempt to move in the direction of this ideal while keeping in mind any special needs he has such as food allergies or schedule constraints.
Start with a small change and try to add something new each week.
The best case for digestion and muscle development is to eat six meals a day. This translates into a meal every 2-3 hours.
Each meal should include
lots of complex carbohydrates (the less processed the better)
fruit or vegetables (fresh or frozen)
protein (chicken, lean meat, or fish is preferred)
fat (the less saturated1 the better)
1. Fats that are saturated tend to be solid at room temperature (like butter and bacon fat). Prefer fats like oils that are liquid at room temperature.
We recommend three liquids: water, water, and water. The colder the better.
Try to drink extra water any day we have a practice or game. It is especially important to drink 16 oz of ice-cold water on the way to the game or practice.
If possible, stop drinking sodas all together. Sports drinks should be limited to after heavy exercise. Caffeine will dehydrate. Avoid cokes, coffee, and tea.
Be aware of the risks of heat exhaustion and heat stroke.
Avoid eating right before heavy exercise. The closer you are the more digestible the food needs to be. One hour before should be fruits only. Two hours before you should be able to tolerate some complex carbs. Three hours or more you should be able to eat a normal meal. Do be aware that everyone is different and you'll have to find your own tolerance for eating before exercise.
Its important to eat after heavy exercise (practice or game). The stomach may not be able to handle a lot of food, so try to eat something small right after exercise and then a larger meal within an hour. Aim for carbs and protein after a workout. A peanut butter sandwich on whole wheat bread with a glass of milk would work.
Weight Lifting and Protein
Lifting weights tears down your muscles. To build them back up, you need protein. 0.9 grams of protein per pound of body weight is sufficient. It is best to get this protein from real food. High-quality protein comes from beef, poultry, fish, eggs, milk and dairy products, soy and soy products. It is also best to spread the protein intake out over the entire day.
Some athletes wonder about using a protein supplement such as protein powder or a high-protein drink. Overall, this isn't necessary and might even be dangerous. Using protein supplements can lead to excessive protein intake, taxing the kidneys and promoting dehydration. Plus, the risk for contamination with steroids, hormones or other unwanted ingredients is real, as the regulation of dietary supplements is largely left to manufacturers.
Take a multi-vitamin (prefer natural to synthetic) and a fish oil supplement. If overweight, have D3 checked, and supplement as needed.
Weight Loss or Weight Gain
Some athletes may want to lose a little weight or gain some. The key to healthy weight change is to not go too fast. If the athlete is losing more than 1 pound per week, he is likely losing muscle or is dehydrating. If the athlete is gaining more than 1 pound per week, he is likely gaining fat.
Your body will not burn fat properly if you do not get enough rest.
Get 8-10 hours of sleep per day. Go to bed as close to 10 pm as possible.