Fitness Nutrition and Supplementation for Ivy League Athletes
You are working hard, preparing to one-day play sports at an elite college level. It’s been a goal for as long as you can remember, to attend an ivy league institution and dominate in your field. You want to be as prepared as you can and give yourself a competitive edge to achieve your dreams.
You need to know what to be aware of proper supplementation and banned substances. We are in the age of (mis)information overload. Make sure you have the facts and aren’t being misinformed by online gurus and influencers. We have the details for supplementation, where you can check your supplements for banned substances and basic nutrition tips for sports athletes.
Functional Foods vs Nutritional Supplements
Let’s get clear on some basic terms first. Functional foods are whole foods that are excellent sources of vitamins and minerals, such as fruits, vegetables, yogurt, oatmeal and fish. They are also foods that have been fortified, enriched, or enhanced to benefit overall nutrition, such as folate-enriched bread or orange juice with added calcium.
A nutritional supplement is a product that is intended to supplement the diet with specific vitamins, minerals, herbs, amino acids, or extracts. It can be a capsule, liquid, or powder made from isolated nutrients.
Organizations that Monitor Banned Supplements
We are in the age of super-sensitive drug testing. There are hundreds of substances that are prohibited from competitive sports. It’s best to consult a certified sports program that is accredited and routinely monitors products for banned substances. Two popular programs are:
NSF Certified for Sport Program
The NSF Certified for Sport Program is a third-party certifier that tests dietary supplements and functional foods to make sure they:
– Meet label claims
– Are not contaminated with e.coli, heavy metals, etc.
– Do not contain performance-enhancing ingredients that would cause an athlete to test positive, preventing them from participating in their sport
They also have a wide variety of athlete resources and a sports app. They support coaches and athletes with all their concerns by conducting on-site manufacturing audits, product formulation reviews, label claim testing, and contaminant testing for more than 270 athletically banned substances.
LGC Informed Sport
LGC Informed Sport is a global testing and certification program for sports supplements tested by a world-class anti-doping lab. They test for 250 substances that are prohibited in sport and substances that pose a threat to product contamination. On their website, you can sign-up to receive their Informed Sport Supplement Safety Guide. They also have the Informed Sport mobile app where you search for and scan barcodes of sports nutrition products to confirm they do not contain any banned substances. They assure athletes and coaches by testing products for prohibited substances and ensuring they meet high-quality standards for integrity and safety.
Before purchasing any sort of supplementation consult your coach to determine if the product is safe and effective. Any supplements you take should be highly personalized to your goals. Supplementation effectiveness can be dependent on your meal and diet plan, so look at what and when you’re eating first to make sure it’s on point before turning to supplementation for a quick fix. The purpose of supplementation is to augment the diet so it’s best to address your diet and eating schedule first.
Basic Nutrition To-Dos for Sports Athletes
– Create a personalized and sustainable meal plan
– Eat foods you enjoy and test for food allergies and intolerances
Build Your Life Skills
Learn how to grocery shop and cook for yourself. This can be totally intimidating and that’s ok. Work with professionals and practice with your teammates. Not many of us love the chore of shopping and cooking but it is a necessary skill for building lifelong vitality. Once you hit the big time you can hire a personal chef!
Learn What Foods to Avoid on Game Day
You might want to consume less fibre on competition day to account for gastrointestinal stress and bloat. Consult with a nutritionist on how to eat for maximum energy and power.
Build Healthy Habits
Behaviour change takes time, adjust your expectations (no comparisons to social media!) and focus on building consistency over time.
Trust the Experts
Your coach, trainer, nutritionist and performance dietician know best and have been doing this for years. Trust their expertise and advice. Work with them and be honest about what works for you to create your optimal personalized plan.
Be Clear on Your Goals
Having regular communication and follow-ups with your coach will lead to lasting beneficial changes.
Start Where You’re At
Meet yourself at your current skill level with commitment and compassion. You know change takes time and you’re in this for the long haul.
The life of a college athlete is very busy. You take your training and achievements seriously and ideally, are consulting with a trusted sports nutrition partner that takes your performance and supplementation seriously as well. You are on your way to playing at the elite level, the competition better watch out because you’re ready!