Pay attention to protein.
Our athletes never separate nutrition from their workout. Protein is essential to build and maintain muscle mass. Protein also provides the building blocks that help us build anti-bodies to fight off infections, benefitting our immune systems.
With our athletes, particularly our American football players, we focus on dairy-based protein, personalizing their nutrition plans depending on their work loads. While you may not need as much protein as a 250-pound football player training day-in and day-out for the draft, dairy-based protein is a good option for athletes because of its two main components: whey and casein. Whey acts really quickly to help with immediate recovery, while casein is slower acting–helping you recover over a longer period of time. Dairy-based protein is also considered a “complete” protein. This means it has all of the essential amino acids that the body can’t make only through food.
We are seeing trends of more athletes moving towards plant-based diets, and while it’s not that surprising, given the many benefits studies have found on health and body function, it can be more challenging to make sure you’re getting all of the amino acids. One option for supplementing a plant-based diet is consuming soy, one of the very few plant-based proteins that’s going to give you those essential amino acids. Otherwise, you’ll need to pair the right combination of plant-based food in your meals to get the ultimate benefit like rice and beans, for example.