5 Baseball Nutrition Tips to Support Training and Competition
It is important for baseball players to have a sports nutrition plan in place to support their performance goals. Here are 5 nutrition tips to help baseball players be fueled to train and compete at their best.
Baseball Nutrition Tip #1: Fuel Your Training and Competition
Eating a well-planned pre-game meal can help ensure baseball players go into the activity optimally fueled for performance. When time allows, baseball players should schedule this meal 3-4 hours prior to the start of activity. This allows time for their bodies to digest the meal and to go to the bathroom, if needed, before the start of the baseball game.
The pre-game meal should include a good source of carbohydrates, a moderate amount of lean protein, and be low in saturated fat. Example pre-game meals for baseball players may include:
- Fruit smoothie, bagel with nut butter and honey
- Pancakes, scrambled eggs, fresh sliced fruit
- Turkey sub sandwich, pretzels, apple slices
- Grilled salmon, steamed rice, green beans, dinner rolls
- Pasta with marinara, sliced chicken, vegetables, breadsticks
When baseball players have less time prior to the start of the workout or game, they should focus on eating carbohydrate-rich snacks for a quick source of energy. Eating food high in protein, fat, or fiber, too close to the start of the activity, may result in an upset stomach during the competition.
Ideas for carbohydrate-rich snacks include:
- Fresh fruit, dried fruit, applesauce squeeze
- Pretzels, pita chips, snack crackers
- Fig bar, low-fat granola bar
- Sports drinks, chews, gels
Baseball Nutrition Tip #2: Focus on Hydration
Hydration is an essential aspect of a baseball player’s sports nutrition plan. Dehydration can negatively impact performance and increase the risk of heat illnesses (1). Therefore, starting the game or workout in an optimally hydrated state is important.
Hydrating Before Baseball Practice and Games
Although hydration needs vary amongst athletes, there are some general pre-event guidelines baseball players can follow. Approximately 4 hours prior to the event, it is recommended that athletes drink 5-7 mL of fluid per kg of body weight (1).
For a 180-pound athlete, this calculates to be ~14 – 19 fluid ounces. Thus, consuming approximately 2 cups of fluid (16 fl oz) with the pre-game meal can help baseball players with meeting this goal.
In the hour leading up to the game, baseball players should continue hydrating, aiming to drink approximately 8 oz of fluid during this time period.
Hydrating During Baseball Practice and Games
It is important for baseball players to be focused on staying hydrated throughout the baseball game as well. During activity, athletes sweat to help remove heat from their bodies. When athletes sweat, they lose both fluid and electrolytes. Thus, baseball players need to make sure to consider both in their hydration plans.
Consuming a sports drink during activity can help baseball players with replacing both fluid and electrolyte losses. In addition, consuming a sports drink that contains carbohydrates can assist with providing baseball players with energy for the next inning. A sports drink can be particularly beneficial when exercising in hot and humid environments, as baseball often is, to help replace fluid and electrolyte losses.
Individualized Hydration Plan for Baseball Players
When discussing the hydration needs of baseball players, it is important to recognize that the fluid and electrolytes lost in sweat can vary greatly amongst athletes. It can be beneficial for athletes to work with a sports dietitian nutritionist to develop an individualized hydration plan specific to their unique needs.
Rehydrating After Baseball Practice and Games
Following a baseball practice or game it is important for athletes to replace the fluid and electrolytes lost in sweat. Weighing before and after activity can help athletes determine how much fluid was lost. For each pound of weight lost during the activity, baseball players should aim to drink 20-24 oz of fluid (2).
Consuming sodium during the recovery period can help baseball players replace the sodium lost in sweat. In addition, the sodium will help athletes better retain the fluid consumed after exercise. Baseball players can consider adding salty foods such as pretzels, baked chips, deli meat, cheese, soup, pickles, and jerky to their recovery nutrition snacks and meals (1).
Baseball Nutrition Tip #3: Pack Snacks for the Dugout
Baseball players should pack snacks for the dugout that can help them rehydrate and refuel throughout the practice or game. Carbohydrate-rich snacks, similar to those enjoyed before the game, are good options for the dugout as well. The key is remembering to pack the snacks to have available during the game.
Salty, carbohydrate-based snacks, such as pretzels, pita chips or snack crackers, can be a good choice for baseball players to enjoy in the dugout. These snacks provide carbohydrates for energy as well as salt, which can help replace the sodium lost in sweat. Salt also helps stimulate thirst (1), thus encouraging baseball players to drink fluid and meet their hydration needs as well.
Baseball Nutrition Tip #4: Recover After Workouts and Games
Following a baseball practice or game, athletes should take time to focus on meeting their recovery nutrition needs. Recovery nutrition is particularly important when athletes will be training or competing again the same day or next day. In baseball, double and triple-headers are common so athletes should have a plan in place for meeting their recovery nutrition needs.
The three goals of recovery nutrition include:
- Hydrate – Replace fluid and electrolytes lost in sweat
- Refill Energy Stores – Consume carbohydrates to replace energy stores used during activity
- Build and Repair – Consume protein to help build and repair lean muscle mass
Recovery Nutrition Snacks for Baseball Players
If it will be several hours prior to the next meal, baseball players should consume a post-workout snack following activity. Quick and easy snack ideas include:
- Low-fat chocolate milk and granola bars
- Turkey and cheese wrap with sports drink
- Peanut butter and jelly sandwich with low-fat milk
- Sliced cheese, crackers, grapes, water
- String cheese, pretzels, banana, sports drink
- Sports bar with sports drink
Post-Game Meal for Baseball Players
Baseball players should follow-up their recovery snack with a well-balanced post-game meal in the next couple of hours. This is particularly important when competing in a tournament with games scheduled again the next day.
Example post-game meals include:
- Grilled chicken breast, brown rice, green beans, sliced melon, tart cherry juice
- Burrito bowl made with grilled chicken or steak, rice, black beans, corn salsa, lettuce, tomatoes, side tortilla, and sports drink.
- Pasta with marinara sauce, turkey meatballs, salad, breadsticks, water
Baseball Nutrition Tip #5: Plan Ahead for Travel
Baseball players frequently travel to out-ot-town tournaments, thus having strategies in place to meet their sports nutrition needs on the road is important. If you need ideas to support travel nutrition, take time to review the blogs below.
- Bus Snacks for Athletes
- Gas Station Drinks for Athletes
- Gas Station Snacks for Athletes
- Easy Hotel Room Food Ideas for Athletes
Healthy Restaurant Choices for Baseball Player
When traveling, baseball players should focus on making healthy choices at restaurants. Athletes should select meals that provide a good source of carbohydrates, lean protein, and healthy, unsaturated fats.
Example meals athletes can enjoy at restaurants to help them meet their sports nutrition needs include:
- Italian Food: Spaghetti with marinara topped with grilled chicken or shrimp, breadsticks, Italian salad, pasta fagioli soup, water.
- Mexican Food: Chicken or steak fajitas, Spanish rice, black beans, lettuce, tomatoes, sliced avocado, and water.
- Fast Food Restaurant (Burgers or Chicken): Grilled chicken sandwich on a bun, fruit and yogurt parfait, 100% fruit juice.
- Sandwich Shop: Turkey sandwich on whole grain bread, baked chips, chicken noodle soup, apple slices, sports drink.
- Steak House: Grilled salmon, baked sweet potato, steamed broccoli, garden salad, dinner rolls, water.
- Pizza: Thick sliced pizza with ham or chicken and vegetable toppings, garden salad, sports drink.
You are now set with 5 nutrition tips to help baseball players be fueled to train and perform at their best. For additional sports nutrition tips, check out my recent blog: Breakfast for Teens On the Go.
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About the Author
Mandy is a Sports Dietitian Nutritionist in the San Antonio, TX area. She is a Registered and Licensed Dietitian, a Board-Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics, a Licensed Athletic Trainer, and is a Certified Exercise Physiologist through the American College of Sports Medicine. Mandy has experience working with athletes at the high school, collegiate, and professional levels. She believes the key to reaching one’s full potential, both in everyday life and in sports performance, relies on a healthy nutritional foundation. Learn more about the work Mandy does here.