TAKE 5 With U.S. Snowboarding’s Allen Tran
Elite athletes know how to deliver elite performances. And they know that the best way to fuel elite performances is to make great nutrition choices. But fueling elite performances shouldn’t be limited to our elite athletes.
Nutrition is a key contributor to performance. And it’s one that is often overlooked for athletes of all ages. The building blocks of good nutrition start with just good instincts. Starting from a young age, you probably knew not to eat certain things before a game, or to not eat too much because it’s hard to digest before the game starts. What youth athletes might not know is that certain foods can make you feel more energetic, think more clearly, and benefit performance in training and competition.
Here at Liberty Mutual Insurance Play Positive™ we believe that parents and coaches can help youth athletes incorporate sports nutrition into their pre-game plans to bring out their best performance. Think of food as fuel for everything your youth athletes do.
We sat down with Allen Tran, Head Chef for the U.S. Ski & Snowboarding Association, to get his thoughts on how youth athletes, coaches and Positive Sport Parents can help fuel elite performances.
In our exclusive TAKE 5 interview, Allen told us that fueling performance begins with athletes learning to “eat to your activity level.”
“If you’re about to do some hard endurance training, you’ll need a good amount of carbohydrate to fuel the long workout,” said Allen. “If you’re about to do strength training, you’ll need additional protein to help recover and build muscle. In the same sense, on an athlete’s off day, he or she will not need as many calories, so it’s wise to scale back the amount of food on those lighter intensity and rest days.”
Allen said that another top priority for youth athletes should be to always stay properly hydrated.
“Hydration is also important, and it’s one of the simplest ways to improve performance,” said Allen. “Especially in hot and humid environments, the athlete’s body is counting on adequate fluid to keep cool and to keep important chemical processes going to allow peak performance. Forgetting to hydrate can lead to pretty dramatic decreases in performance.”
When asked to name one of his favorite foods for fueling performance, Allen didn’t hesitate.
“I am a huge fan of Greek yogurt, because it’s an excellent source of protein, can be combined with fruit to make a great recovery snack, and provides probiotics for digestive health,” said Allen. “Also as a chef, Greek yogurt is very versatile in recipes, replacing butter, mayonnaise, and sour cream.“
Allen added that he believes coaches and parents can both play a vital role in ensuring youth athletes properly fuel their performances.
“Coaches are the ones that see athletes day in and day out, and can serve as an advocate for proper fuelling and hydration,” said Allen. “Coaches spend so much time and energy working on training and conditioning to bring athletes up to peak performance, so it makes sense to preserve those gains through proper nutrition.”
Positive Sport Parents, meanwhile, can help out by making sure elite performances are also being fueled in the home.
“Similar to the role that coaches play, parents are a big part of a kid’s life, and can really influence what direction he or she will go regarding proper nutrition,” said Allen. “Working as a team with coaches and credentialed nutrition professionals, a well-educated parent can steer a child or teenager toward positive life-long eating habits, and those habits will ultimately translate to a high level of athletic performance
At Liberty Mutual Insurance, we constantly look for ways to celebrate the countless acts of positivity shown by people every day. We created Play Positive, powered by Positive Coaching Alliance, as part of this belief to help ensure that our kids experience the best that sports have to offer in environments that promote and display positivity. We believe kids can learn valuable life lessons when coaches and parents come together to support winning on and off the slopes.
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