Peak Performance Nutrition

We want our student-athletes to be able to optimize their performance and health. A huge part of the peak performance equation is a sound nutrition program. As collegiate coaches, we understand that student-athletes have numerous demands on their time: class, practice, homework, competition and strength training. It can be very challenging to find the time to make proper meals and snacks for the day, let alone an entire week.

Our goal is to give student-athletes cutting edge nutritional information they can actually implement to maximize performance and health. On this page, we will provide a basic template to get each student-athlete pointed in the right direction. By following these guidelines, athletes will be well on there way to achieving a world-class diet. Then, athletes are encouraged to meet with their strength coach to fine tune their diet based on individual preferences and specific goals. With this extra effort, student-athletes can be certain they are doing everything possible with their diet to achieve superlative performance and health.

Our nutritional philosophy is based on the following statement taken from

"Eat meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch and no sugar. Keep intake at levels that will support exercise but not body fat."

This simple yet eloquent statement provides the foundation for an elite diet.

The Basics: Building Meals:

    1. Pick your protein. A serving of protein for a meal should be roughly the size of the palm of your hand. For a snack, it should be approximately half this amount. Choose low fat protein sources: skinless chicken breast, skinless turkey breast, grass-fed beef, low fat hamburger, tuna, salmon, eggs and egg whites, low-fat cottage cheese, milk, yogurt...

    2. Pick your carbohydrates. "Favorable" carbohydrates come from fruits and vegetables. "Unfavorable" carbohydrates are your pastas, rice, breads, and cereals. (Carbs are defined as favorable or unfavorable solely based on the insulin response they stimulate. This will be explained at the end of this section.) As a general rule, if you are eating favorable carbs, your carb portion should be double the volume of your protein portion. If you are eating unfavorable carbs, this carb portion should be of equal volume to your protein portion. For the best results, most of your carbs should come from the favorable carb list. Below are examples of favorable and unfavorable carbs. (Check with your strength coach to fine tune your carb choices.)

    Favorable carbs (cooked or raw): asparagus, green beans, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, collard greens, kale, cucumber, peppers, spinach, tomatoes, apples, berries of all kinds, cantaloupe, grapefruit, grapes, nectarines, oranges, pears, peaches, watermelon, slow cooked oatmeal...

    Unfavorable carbs: baked beans squash, carrots, corn, French fries, peas, potatoes, refried beans, sweet potato, bananas, cranberries, dates, mango, papaya, raisins, fruit juices, grains, cereals, breads, sugar, candy...

    3. Pick your fats. Good healthy fats are an essential component of a sports performance diet. Monounsaturated fats and Omega-3 fatty acids provide tremendous health benefits. The bulk of dietary fat should be monounsaturated. Saturated fat intake, on the other hand, should be restricted as much as possible. Monounsaturated fats come from: almond butter, almonds, avocado, canola oil, guacamole, macadamia nuts, extra virgin olive oil, olives... Your fat portion will vary based on your dietary goals. Check with your strength coach for an idea on how much fat to include at every meal or snack.

To construct a meal or snack, you simply choose one protein item, one carbohydrate item and one fat item. Make sure you balance your carbs and protein by using appropriate portions. This is vital. Add a little fat and you have a balanced meal or snack that will fuel your intense activities.

Why am I eating like this?

The food you eat has a profound effect on the hormones that circulate in your bloodstream. For optimal health and performance, we are primarily concerned with regulating insulin through a proper diet.

Insulin is a storage hormone that controls the amount of sugar you have in your blood. A typical American meal (high in unfavorable carbs like bread, fries or cereal and low in protein) greatly elevates one's blood sugar. In response, the body secretes insulin to decrease this blood sugar back to "normal" levels. Insulin removes the excess sugar from the blood by storing it in your muscles as glycogen and in your fat cells as fat. Put simply, chronically high levels of insulin caused by constantly eating meals that raise your blood sugar leads to excess bodyfat. Worse yet, this state of elevated insulin in the blood (called hyperinsulinemia) has been linked to numerous diseases including heart disease, cancer, and Alzheimer's.

Unlike unfavorable carbs, favorable carbs (fruits and vegetables) do not cause a rapid increase in one's blood sugar because these carbs are digested more slowly and enter the bloodstream over a longer period of time. Therefore, these favorable carbs do not cause a large spike in insulin levels. (This is why our dietary guidelines allow you to eat so much more broccoli or grapes than, say, cereal or pasta.)

Glucagon, a hormone secreted in response to protein ingestion, has the opposite role of insulin in that glucagon causes the liver to release glucose into the bloodstream when blood sugar is low. These two hormones must act in balance.

By following the above dietary recommendations and balancing carb portions (especially favorable carbs) with protein portions, you are taking a huge step to controlling your insulin. Add a source of good fats to every carb/protein balanced meal or snack and you have satisfied almost all the requirements for optimal nutrition! None of this is complicated. You can eat a wide variety of great foods on this type of nutrition plan. Your strength coaches will even work with you to fit your favorite "cheat" foods into your meal schedule. Follow these simple but powerful recommendations and we promise a significant increase in performance and health. Make it happen now!

Sample Meals

Try to make the following foods a regular part of your diet:

    Vegetables: broccoli, green beans, asparagus, kale, spinach, tomatoes (all available from Trader Joe's frozen or in bags)
    Fruits: all berries (blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries), cantaloupe, oranges, apples (see Trader Joe's, Costco or your local Farmers' Market)
    Proteins: grass fed meat, free range chicken, Omega-3 eggs (Trader Joe's, Costco)
    Fats: extra-virgin olive oil, dry roasted, unsalted nuts (macadamia nuts, cashews, almonds), avocado or guacamole

With these foods in mind, you can create a whole variety of meals and snacks!

Snacks: (carry around in a small cooler all day):
a) 1 hard boiled egg, 1/2 orange, a few almonds
b) 1/2 cup plain yogurt with pecans or macadamia nuts
c) 1 oz of cheese, 1/2 an apple, a few macadamia nuts
d) 1 oz cheese, 1/2 a cup of grapes, 1 tbsp avocado or guac
e) 1 cup strawberries, 1/4 cup cottage cheese, a few macadamia nuts
f) 1 oz hummus, 1/2 tomato, 1.5 oz feta cheese
g) 1 poached egg, 1/2 slice Ezekial bread, 1/2 tbsp natural PB
h) 1.5 oz feta cheese, 1 cup diced tomato, 5 olives and some extra virgin olive oil
i) 1/4 cup cottage cheese, 1/2 cup pineapple, a few macadamia nuts
j) 1 oz chicken breast or deli meat, 1/2 a cup of grapes, a few almonds

a) Slice of Ezekial bread, 2 eggs (scrambled or fried), 1 oz cheese, 1 oz of chicken breast, 1 apple, take your fish oil
b) 1 cup cottage cheese + 1/2 a cantaloupe (cubed), 1 cup strawberries, 1/2 a cup of grapes, almonds or macadamia nuts
c) Smoothie: 2 cups milk, 2 tbsp protein powder, 1 cup strawberries, 1/2 cup blueberries, large scoop of almonds, take your fish oil
d) 1 cup oatmeal (slightly watery), 1 Tbsp protein powder, 1/2 cup grapes, 3/4 cup cottage cheese, almonds
e) 1 cantaloupe, 1 cup cottage cheese, macadamia nuts
f) TJ grass fed burger pattie, 1 egg, 1 slice Ezekial bread with PB, 1/2 cantaloupe

a) Tuna Sandwich: 4 oz canned tuna, 4 tsp light mayo, 1 slice Ezekial bread, 1 apple, some nuts, take your fish oil (see supplement section at the bottom of this page)
b) Sandwich: 2 slices of bread, 4.5 oz of chicken breast (grilled), 1 oz cheese, 4 Tbsp avocado or guac
c) Chicken Salad: 4 oz grilled chicken, 2 cups of spinach, 1/4 tomato (chopped), 1/4 cucumber (chopped), 1/4 green pepper (chopped), 1/2 cup black beans, 1/4 cup kidney beans, with extra virgin olive oil and red wine vinegar
d) 4.5 oz of lean meat, 1 oz cheese, 1 apple, 1 grapefruit, macadamia nuts

a) 6 oz fresh salmon (grilled), saute 1 cup zucchini and serve with 1 large spinach salad with extra virgin olive oil and red wine vinegar, 2 cups of strawberries
b) Stew: saute in 1 tsp of olive oil: 1/4 chopped onion, 1/2 chopped green pepper and 8 oz of cubed beef, then add 1 cup of chopped zucchini, 1 cup mushrooms, 1/2 cup tomato sauce, season with garlic, Worcestershire sauce, salt, pepper, serve with 1 cup strawberries and your fish oil (see supplement section at the bottom of this page)
c) Chili for three: saute 2/3 cup chopped onion, 2 chopped green peppers, add garlic, cumin, chili powder, crushed red peppers, then add 10 oz ground beef until brown, then add 2 cups tomato sauce, 1 cup black beans, 1 cup kidney beans, 40 chopped olives, and take your fish oil
d) 4 oz grilled turkey breast, 2.5 cups of chopped, steamed kale, then saute 1 tsp of olive oil, garlic, crushed red peppers, add kale and mix, 2 peaches for desert, take your fish oil
e) 4 oz of grilled chicken breast, 2 oranges, macadamia nuts

What Do I do Now?

So, how do you get started on your new eating plan? First, write down some of the foods you like to eat that were listed here. Add a few of your own favorites too. Then go shopping to Trader Joe's, Costco, or Ralph's and buy what you need for a week's worth of meals and snacks. (Sunday is a good day to do this.)

Next, buy a whole bunch of Tupperware if you don't have any. Start putting meals and snacks together and store them in your refrigerator. Buy a small cooler to carry these meals around campus with you. You can use any of the example meals or snacks provided here or modify them to your taste. Just make sure you follow the rules about portion size and having protein, carbs and fats at every feeding. Keep fine tuning as you go. The most important step is to start. You can perfect your shopping list, amount of food needed and favorite meals over time. Inundate your Sports Performance Staff with questions. We will constantly help you refine your nutrition plan.