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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.

Eating a well-balanced diet high in fruits, vegetables, lean meats, and whole grains, covers most of the nutritional bases a pitcher needs to perform at his very best. Proper nutrition, coupled with proper hydration (drinking enough water) and proper sleep are all required for optimal performance in practices and in games.

Just like high-performance cars need high-octane gas, high-performance athletes need high-energy foods to get the most out of their bodies. When setting up a diet, aim for roughly 25 percent of your calories from proteins (such as skim milk, salmon, ham, turkey, and tuna fish), 55 percent from carbohydrates (such as whole wheat bread, apples, oranges, salads, and yams), and 20 percent from good fats, also known as mono-unsaturated fats, (such peanut butter, sunflower seeds, and olive oil).

A good rule of thumb I always followed was to choose real foods over supplements for most of your nutrient and caloric needs. However, as you’ll read below, some supplements — such as protein shakes and bars — may be OK to take if healthy food options are not available.

“Eating clean” really doesn’t necessitate any additional supplement use at all if you eat a variety of wholesome foods throughout the course of the day. Simply eating a well-balanced diet is all you need, most of the time.

As a baseball player – especially when you advance to the collegiate and professional levels – the “travel factor” can often make eating well on a consistent basis difficult because you’ll be limited to make food choices based on a restaurant’s proximity to your hotel or based on where the bus stops to refuel.

In the minor leagues, for instance, 72 games out of our 144-game season were spent on the road. And although most cities in which we played offered excellent meal options, we often got into our hotels too late at night or too early in the morning to eat a good meal. Most of the time, meals were eaten during a rest stop – in the middle of the night at a gas station or at a truck stop. As a result, many baseball players that I played with took a multi-vitamin and mineral, they took additional vitamin C and vitamin A, and they used protein shakes and bars (also referred to as MRPs or Meal Replacements).

Multi-vitamins and minerals can be used to fill in the nutrition gaps when eating clean is difficult, which is often the case on the road. MRPs travel well because they are individually-packaged and, for the most part, offer baseball players an excellent source of nutrients, which can easily be mixed with water. And MRPs, for example, are a much better food choice than gas-station foods like chips or candy bars or fast food. Therefore, if you choose to use MRPs, I suggest that you use them to hold over until a better food choice can be made — but don’t rely on them for your primary source of calories.

As for all of the other supplements that are available today? I’d say that until more research is conducted on the safety and benefit to using supplements — like Creatine, Androstenedione, Nor- Androstenedione, Xenedrine, etc. — you are probably better off sticking to whole-food sources, multi-vitamins and minerals, and MRPs.

Some high-performance food choices include:

* Bagel with all-natural peanut butter

* Whole-grain cereals or oatmeal with bananas and raisins

* Eggs and toast

* Whole-grain waffles or pancakes with pure-maple syrup and fruit (like blueberries or strawberries)

* Vegetable omelet or scrambled egg-whites

* Brown rice

* Whole wheat pastas

* Whole wheat breads

* Steamed vegetables

* Fruits

* Lean beef (93% lean or better)

* Fish

* Chicken, turkey, roast beef

* Low-fat milk

* Low-fat cottage cheese, yogurt

* Soy food (high in protein)

* Tofu

* Beans (black beans, lima beans, string beans)

* Non-carbonated sports drinks (with 12 grams of sugar or less per serving)

* Granola bars, cereal bars

* Trail mix of cereal, pretzels, nuts, dried fruits

* Pretzels

* Fruits

* Nuts

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