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Baseball Players & Baseball Nutrition: A Double Play

Calling all baseball players: You spend countless hours refining strategy and perfecting technique, and hundreds more improving the physical and mental skills the game demands. But one vital factor could be missing in your routine: proper baseball nutrition. In today's competitive environment, proper nutrition for athletes is essential to maintain a healthy edge. Baseball is a combination of balance, agility, and concentration with bursts of physical activity. For power, speed, and good reaction time, what and when one eats can improve or hurt performance. Want to play like the athletes competing in the big baseball series this month? Here's a game plan on how to eat for energy and hydrate for high performance.

Now let’s play ball!

· Hydrate: Water is the most important nutrient for baseball players. Not staying properly hydrated can lead to muscle cramps, joint pain, fatigue, headaches, slow reaction time and decreased concentration. Not sure how much water your body needs? Drink at least 16 ounces of water two hours before game time, and another 8 ounces 15 minutes before the game. Stay well-hydrated during the game by drinking about 4 to 8 ounces of fluid every 15 minutes. Special note to pitchers and catchers: These positions usually need more fluids and sports drinks since catchers wear heavy equipment and pitchers are in continuous movement.

· Eat often: Aim to eat every three to four hours. Most baseball players eat only an average of two to four times a day. Eating three meals along with two or three snacks daily is the best way to gain lean tissue, maintain energy levels and recover at an optimal rate. Eat a balanced meal three to four hours before the game. A good rule of thumb is to have ¼ of the plate filled with whole grains such as whole-grain bread, pasta or brown rice; ¼ of the plate lean protein such as eggs, fish, beans or chicken; and the last ½ of the plate featuring colorful produce. Keep meals on the healthy side since high-fat meals, such as fried chicken or a cheeseburger can lead to feeling weighed down and sluggish.

· Have a post-workout snack: To optimize recovery, eat within 30 minutes of your strength workout and after any workout that lasts more than two hours. The snack should contain at least six to 20 grams of protein and 30 to 60 grams of carbohydrates. This combination will help repair muscles and replenish energy stores. To see how much fluid you need, weigh yourself before and after games. For every one pound of weight lost, drink 16 to 24 ounces of water. Losing weight after a game is not a good thing since this is a sign of dehydration. Make it a priority to increase the amount of fluid during future games.

· Plan ahead: When you're on the run, rushing from school to baseball practice, or on the road traveling to out-of-town games, it can be difficult to stick to your healthy diet. If you plan ahead, though, you should be able to get the nutrition you need. Pack a supply of sports bars, trail mix, whole-grain crackers or pieces of fruit to take with you to nibble on the bus or while waiting for practice to begin. When eating out, remember to order something lean like grilled chicken instead of fried, and don’t forget your veggies! Vegetables contain phytonutrients and antioxidants that fight free radicals that your body produces when in heavy training. They also help to combat the additional stress baseball players often put on their body in game situations. If you find it hard to get your full servings of fruits and vegetables each day, especially while traveling, try Juice Plus+. The convenient capsule form makes Juice Plus+ easy to pack and take while on-the-go and you can rest assured that your body is getting the nutrition it needs from fruits and vegetables.

Nutrition for athletes matters, so eat to compete! What nutrition tips make you a better baseball player on and off the field? Share your baseball nutrition advice below. 

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