“You will eat no fried meats,” he began abruptly. “You will eat no pastries, but you will eat plenty of vegetables. You will eat good, substantial, wholesome food—the kind of food your mother makes. You will go to bed at ten o’clock and arise punctually at seven o’clock. You will not smoke or drink or chew. And you will follow this regimen all year round, for as long as you row for me. A man cannot abuse his body for six months and then expect to row the other six months. He must be a total abstainer all year.”
― Daniel James Brown, The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics
So what is the deal with nutrition? Struck hates sugar so no one else is allowed to eat it? No - not at all. In fact I love sugar - a little too much! But when I was playing in college and learning about nutrition, and I actually started paying attention to what I was eating, and how it made me feel, and how it impacted my playing, I noticed some pretty interesting things. And I made some pretty big changes in my life.
So here's the deal. Our bodies are amazing and allow us to play the game of volleyball. Now lets think for a minute about a car race. Lets say you were entering a car into a race. Do you think you would spend some time working on the car to get it ready for the race? Would you maybe make sure it had the right tires on it, and then would you pay attention to what fuel you used during the race? Of course! How much more so is it important for us to take care of our bodies, especially when we are competing at high levels and especially those of you who want to play in college.
I am not going to police what you eat 24-7. What you do on your own is up to you. But I am going to advocate for an environment at practice and at games that promotes fueling our bodies with foods that will give us energy to perform and play our best. So here are some articles that talk about athletes that have stopped eating sugar and what the results have been:
WNBA Star Maya Moore's Small Diet Change That Produced Big Results
"Sure enough, within three weeks Moore felt more energetic and less sore, and she recovered faster after workouts. Continuing her dietary changes throughout the season, she noticed a significant improvement on the court. She says, 'It definitely made a difference in terms of me being quicker—and in less pain.'"
Steve Nash on Living Sugar-Free
"The difference was instantaneous: I slept better, I recovered from workouts more easily, and I had more energy. When we started training camp in September, we were doing two-a-days – four or five hours on the court – and I never got sore."
5 Pro Athletes with Ridiculously Strict Diets
"Perhaps unsurprisingly, these athletes are also some of the very best at what they do. These five pro athletes with ridiculously strict diets will make you think twice about what it means to eat healthy."
Kobe Bryant's Diet Helps Maintain Elite Level of Play
"My wind feels even better," he said postgame after the Lakers 111-98 victory over the 76ers. "I feel like I can run all day long. A lot of that has to do with diet and being committed to it, and watching what I eat."http://www.nba.com/lakers/community/1213_fitforlife_features (scroll to the bottom of the page)
A Professional Athlete's Journey to a Whole Foods Diet
Kyle Vissor, a pro basketball player in Europe, has embraced a whole foods diet and found he needs less sleep and feels much better: "I had way more energy throughout the day and on the court. After a trial period, I was convinced this was my new way of eating, and
And there are many more articles about professional athletes who have noticed improved performance after changes to their diet. I do not think that it's a good idea to "go on a diet" but I do think that we should try to get as much good food into our bodies as we can. Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh-Jennings both talk about trying to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables, and focusing on eating all the colors of the rainbow. If we focus on what we are putting into our bodies, we don't need to worry as much about what needs to get cut out. But if you want to cut out food, we should cut out processed foods, especially sugar, and eat close to the earth.