For the majority of teams, the intense Fall/Winter season has ended- abruptly for some with cancellations. Certainly everyone is looking ahead to Spring season and off-season training.
While this is a great time for athletes to focus on body changes: weight gain/loss, increasing strength, and increasing endurance, there's no shortage of misinformation on how to achieve these goals... especially when it comes to growing athletes.
Which three myths do I hear most often?
1. Increasing muscle strength requires increases in protein. Though there is some truth to this since they're spending more time in the gym, the point that's often missed is that protein needs are still determined by age, weight, and activity. And, if carbohydrate intake isn't sufficient, protein can't do its endless jobs... including muscle growth and repair.
2. Athletes need to increase calories to gain weight. Sure, this happens for everyone, calorie surplus leads to weight gain, but, it doesn't mean it's the weight we're looking for. More ice cream and fried foods will give them calories, but it won't provide the right nutrients to facilitate strength, endurance, and growth.
3. Supplements will provide the extra nutrients athletes need. Ugh. This is my hot topic. While supplements can absolutely have their place, keep in mind that this $50 billion industry is unregulated.... which means not only is there risk for contamination (including banned substances), there's also a high risk for those with food allergies. But the biggest concern... nearly all of the products- and their ingredients- have never been tested on kids (essentially anyone under 21) and they're left missing essential nutrients.
Nutritional needs definitely change as activity levels and goals change. But, meeting these nutrient changes through real foods not only provides key vitamins and minerals for strength, recovery, and endurance, they also prepare and facilitate the body's future growth.
If you're expecting to utilize off-season training to prepare for next season, then let's ensure their nutritional plan meets their needs and goal. Building their strength, improving focus, and increasing their endurance starts well before they walk into the gym.