A scary thing happens in the kitchen when a kid, who used to scarf down half the pantry and call it "just a snack," decides to take up an uber-taxing sport. And then decides he is going to eat like the pros.
You can a.) take out a second mortgage to cover the grocery bills; or b.) get smart and make sure every bite counts.
We went with Door No. 2 when the lanky 6-foot-3 kid in our house decided to become a varsity rower, and put us to the test.
We turned to the sports nutritionist Harper's Bazaar calls "one of the top 10 experts to help revamp your diet" — and who counts among her clients elite athletes and pros, including the Stanley Cup-winning
, Miami Heat's Dexter Pittman and Minnesota Twins'
Julie Burns, founder of SportFuel Inc.,
the mother of high-school triplets, has long been a walking encyclopedia of supernutrition.
Here's her Gospel for Hungry Jocks (and those who feed them):
"What we tell athletes and kids: Eat foods that will rot and spoil, but eat them before they do."
She explains: "Say you have a box of (sugary cereal) that you leave over winter at some cabin in the woods. You come back the next summer, you can still eat it. But with foods that rot, the reason they become not edible is that they're alive and they have enzymes. What creates high performance is clean protein, healthy fats, and minimally processed carbohydrates with all the nutrients and enzymes nature packaged with them."
Instead of grabbing a bagel, she says, scramble eggs and grab a bowl of raspberries. You need the anti-oxidants and the protein.
"The truth is if we don't prepare to eat well, we'll eat poorly," she cautions. She knows too well what kids will eat if they're at an all-day swim meet, or a rowing regatta, and the booster club — with best intentions — hauls in a groaning board of granola bars, PB&J and juice bottles.
"You want to make every bite count, so think ahead, pack a cooler of real foods: hard-boiled eggs, plain yogurt, turkey jerky, pumpkin seeds, nuts, and dried and fresh fruits."
Nutrient timing, she says, is one of the hottest topics in sports nutrition. You want to take in the correct amount of proteins, fats, carbohydrates and fluids when your body can best use them.
Take the Blackhawks, a team whose diet Burns choreographed. "During the game, they're drinking coconut water instead of (off-the-shelf sports drinks). You generate free radicals and burn lots of glucose from all that exercise, and you'll help restock with the anti-oxidants in drinks made from real food.
"Right when they come off the ice, they find cherry juice mixed with whey protein in their cubbies. Then they shower and have a recovery drink (a mix of whey protein, fruits, coconut water and
) for a quick dose of proteins and carbohydrates. You can't restore the glycogen as well or as quickly if you don't do so within 30 to 60 minutes. Two or three hours later won't cut it; only half the stores will be replenished, and next time you compete you just won't get the maximum performance."
Wanna eat like a pro? Here's what sports nutritionist Julie Burns prescribes. No need to tackle all of 'em at once. Just take it one at a time, and watch what happens to your sports performance.
•Consider grass-fed beef. It contains higher amounts of
, GLA (gamma-linolenic acid, an omega-6 fatty acid), vitamins A and E, and zinc, essentials all.
•Add a green drink to your daily regimen to boost your vegetable consumption.
•Add lemon to water whenever possible; it helps to alkalize your body, which makes you feel good.
•Drink at least one 8-ounce cup of green tea every day. Its wonders are too long to list.
•Chow down on carbohydrates and some protein in liquid form — whey with colorful fruit juice and even coconut water — as soon as possible after your workout.
•Consume half a teaspoon of unrefined sea salt every day for essential minerals. And, like the pros, hop in the tub for a soak with sea (or Epsom) salts and baking soda; it increases mineral absorption, enhances detoxification, and relaxes muscles.
Brazil nuts will boost your selenium intake, and have anti-cancer properties.
•Coconut water is great for electrolyte replacement during and after activity. You'll want at least 4 ounces per 15 minutes while training.