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  • Last updated Aug. 27, 2015

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Image source: pitcherlist.com

A baseball player’s diet is a very important part of his training program. Poor nutritional habits can prevent a pitcher from reaching his full potential on the mound.

There are three parts to a complete baseball pitcher's training program: workouts, nutrition, and rest. Each of these components has equal importance. A pitcher cannot train at maximum intensity if he is not properly fueled or properly rested.

For the most complete and up-to-date program for conditioning the pitcher available today, check out The TUFFCUFF Strength and Conditioning Manual for Baseball Pitchers. It contains training calendars, nutrition charts and food recommendations to help you eat well, so that you play to the best of your ability.

There are a number of nutritional strategies that, combined with proper training, can boost pitching performance, quicken recovery, and ensure proper hydration.

Here are some practical guidelines based on time-honed scientific principals, "pro tips" based on the latest research and personal advice to help you reach your baseball pitching goals.

Two steps to healthy eating

Emphasize nutrient-dense foods, good-for-you carbs and unsaturated fats: fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, beans, reduced fat dairy, fish, lean meats, soy and olive oil and/or other vegetable oils.

De-emphasize (doesn't mean eliminate) "empty calorie" foods, refined carbs and saturated and trans fats: foods and beverages featuring white flour, sugar, butter, margarine and partially hydrogenated vegetable oils.

What to eat prior to a workout

Your preworkout goal is to be fueled, hydrated and comfortable. Most people find that the right time for a pre-workout meal is two to four hours beforehand.

The closer to a workout, the less you can eat and be comfortable. Higher intensity exercise usually requires a bit more time for digestion.

Your preworkout meal should be high in carbohydrates to top off muscle fuel stores, moderate in protein and relatively low in fat and fiber for quicker digestion.

For early-morning workouts or to further top off fuel supplies in the hour before you workout, eat some or all of a carb-rich, low-fat meal. Drink an extra 16 ounces two to three hours before exercise. Choose water, 100-percent fruit juice, or a sports drink.

What to drink

Replacing fluids lost, as sweat is critical for maintaining performance and preventing dehydration. However, drinking too much water or low sodium beverages during longer hours of exercise (like baseball practices or pitching a complete game) and/or in high temperatures, can lead to hyponatremia, or low blood sodium.

The American College of Sports Medicine suggests drinking between 6 and 12 ounces of fluid per 15 minutes of activity. Baseball pitchers can drink a glass of water in between innings.

How to jumpstart muscle recovery

Recovery is an essential component of your training program and nutrition plays a crucial role in activating the body's recovery process. Since is can be difficult to eat immediately flowing a workout, sports beverages may the easiest way to jumpstart muscle recovery while hydrating at the same time.

Does fat play a role in muscle recovery?

A recent study showed that a high carb diet did not fully restore fat levels stored in the muscle, even two days after a performance. This and related research suggests that fat is an important recovery nutrient.

The best time to incorporate fat into meals is likely four hours after a performance. Baseball players should look to focus on eating unsaturated fats, not saturated or trans fats.

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