The dog days of summer are coming. Diehard athletes will be out in the heat playing hard all summer long. Daytime practices and all day tournaments can be tough on athletes. Hydrating is of upmost importance. Along with that, maintaining a balance of Electrolytes is necessary not only for energetic play, but for safety!
After much reading and research, I have found that electrolyte replacement drinks, if taken in during an event are hypertonic. In other words, they really need to be watered down about 50-50 with water for optimum usage by the body. Plus, many of them are laced with glucose/ fructose/sugar.
What’s the solution?
Drink water and eat fruit! How much water and which fruits?
Start hydrating 48 hours before your big event. Drink 8 large glasses of water every day for the 2 days preceding your tournament day. Add a 16 oz water bottle for each hour of practice if you have practice on those days. If you have hydrated like this, you should be able to play an entire game and withstand the heat. Drink at least 1 to 2 bottles of water during the time period: warm ups through end-game.
Again, after a bunch of reading and research, I have picked the 4 fruits I think contain the most electrolytes, plus one that tastes good and has other properties that I think are important. The essential fruits are: bananas, cantaloupe, honey dew, and kiwi. To these, you can add strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, acai berries or black berries, for flavor and anti-oxidants.
When to eat them?
Like the water, start intake 2 days before your big event. Get them, and wash, clean, peel, and cut them. Have them ready 2 go Wednesday night if you play on Saturday. Make a big fruit salad out of them. Have them ready to go at any time during those 2 days.
Fruit Salad: all cut into bite sized pieces
- 4 bananas
- 2 cantaloupes
- 1 honeydew melon
- 4 kiwis
- 2 cups berries of your choice
- Cut a lemon in half and squeeze one half over the fruit. It will keep it from browning.
Eat a cup of the fruit salad at every meal for the preceding 2 days, except:
The night before, eat 2 cups fruit salad
For breakfast the day of play, eat 2 cups (plus some protein/hard boiled egg whites)
Take the rest in a Tupperware and cooler for game day. Eat it through out the day and between games. Eat other things through out the day. Eat protein. Keep it healthy. No fried or high fat food. Eat when you are hungry. Don’t limit calorie intake.
Smoothies are very popular with kids. There are a few hitches, though:
Glycemic Index/sugar content:
Keep the glycemic index of the smoothie down by adding soy or whey protein. This is important. In short, the lower the glycemic index of the smoothie, the longer the energy derived from the calories taken in. No Protein? It makes the glycemic index higher, and the nutrients burn like sugar. You risk a blood sugar drop soon after ingestion that could slow your player down at the wrong time.
- Protein powders can taste chalky. I take 2 scoops, but I have grown to view food as fuel. I can eat anything I need to eat if it serves my purpose better. Kids can’t always do that. Work with them.
- Use the fruits from the fruit salad. It’s perfect for electrolytes, and it’s in your fridge!
- You could even have a smoothie the night before the game for a treat!
- 2 cups ice
- 2 cups skim milk (soy or rice milk is ok)
- 2 cups of fruit salad, all ingredients
- 1 handful berries of choice
- 1-2 scoops protein powder to taste
Blend it, and put it in a to-go cup. Take it in the car on the way to the game. If it only gets half drunk by game time, stick it on ice. Drink it at half time.