Dr. Chris Mohr is one of the top sports nutritionists in the field today. His company, Mohr Results, is sponsored by Reebok and has been shown in just about every health magazine there is.
Through one of his sports nutrition classes, Dr Mohr shared a ton of useful information that our athletes could benefit from. And since we are always flooded with requests by parents to get on their kids about eating healthier, these tips will hopefully hit home for you.
(EDIT - March 2019: Some tips have been adapted below to reflect more recent research and do not necessarily reflect the views of Dr Mohr.)
1. Calorie deficits put athletes at a greater risk of injury, and most athletes operate in a calorie deficit.
2. Dr Mohr equates eating enough calories with driving a car on a full tank of gas. You can go a lot further than you would if you had a quarter tank, just like athletes can play longer at peak performance if they are eating healthy instead of crashing through part of a long weekend of games.
3. As a general rule, multiply your bodyweight (BW) X 15 for the amount of calories you need to gain muscle, BW X 12 for maintenance, and BW X 10 for fat loss.
4. Your resting metabolic rate makes up 60-70% of the calories you burn each day, so it is far more efficient to develop muscle mass to stay lean than it is to endlessly do cardio.
5. A general rule for filling your plate is to have 25% protein, 25% high quality carbs, and 50%
fruits and vegetables with some fruit. An emphasis on the veggie portion should be on leafy greens and cruciferous veggies like broccoli and cauliflower.
6. Carbs are most beneficial when competing or training in long-lasting events (greater than 1 hour) because they fill the muscles and liver with glycogen. Glycogen is your best endurance energy source.
7. Some of the best quality carb sources are
brown rice, multi-grain breads and pastas, fruits, veggies and some breads/grains that are NOT whole grain. The whole grain versions are irritants to your digestive system and cause more health issues than they solve.
8. Protein is not just critical in building and repairing muscle and other connective tissues, it also keeps you feeling fuller. Thus, it plays a key role in fat loss.
9. Your body can only properly use about 20-25 grams of protein at one time. Anything beyond that is wasted, and causes potential issues with digestion.
10. Meats have 7 grams of protein per ounce, so if you eat more than a 4 oz. piece of meat the rest is useless from a protein-intake perspective unless you save it for later.
11. The average person has 12 grams of protein at breakfast, 25 g at lunch, and 35 g at dinner.
12. A study was done on overweight teenagers who were given 35 grams of protein at breakfast. They lost more fat than the group who ate their normal amount at breakfast and reported far less snacking on junk food later in the day.
13. Some examples of 20-30 gram protein servings are: 1 cup of cottage cheese or Greek yogurt, 4 ounces of beef/chicken/turkey/fish, 4 eggs, 1 ounce beef jerky, 1 can tuna/salmon, and 1 scoop of protein powder.
14. Fats play a key role in both proper brain function and digestive health, plus it has anabolic properties that also contributes to proper growth.
15. New research is coming out that says eating enough healthy fats can lower your risk of concussions.
16. There’s also emerging research on Omega-3’s, a type of healthy fat, and its ability to protect you from brain and heart disorders. 96,000 deaths occur annually and are preventable in those who have an Omega-3 deficit in their diets.
17. Fish is by far the best source of Omega-3’s. Flaxseed, chia seed, and vegetable oils are nice, but after being broken down in the body are only 1-5% as potent as fish and fish oils.
18. Omega-6 fats are found in fried foods and other processed fats. They create an inflammatory response in the body which leads to more sickness and other health issues. Omega-6’s are the kind of fats kids tend to eat most.
19. Even a 1 pound drop in hydration has a negative effect on physical and mental performance. Proper hydration is the #1 most important part of sports nutrition.
20. To re-hydrate after training and competition, consume 2 cups of fluids for every pound lost. Preferrably, most of that fluid is water unless you had an extreme weight drop.
21. Dr Mohr suggests weighing yourself in dry clothes before and after a typical practice, workout or game to get a sense of how much water weight you lose in a typical exercise bout. This can vary widely for different individuals.
22. Cramping usually comes from a sodium loss, not potassium. Something as simple as eating a handful of pretzels or ingesting some other high sodium snack may help.
23. As we’ve been telling our kids for years, strive to drink 1 ounce of water for 1/2 your bodyweight each day, and spread it out evenly over the day. As an example a 200 lb person needs 100 oz. of water daily.
24. 75% of high school athletes who take supplements consume more than the recommended doses. And more is not better.
25. Dr Mohr lists as safe supplements – Protein, Omega-3 Fats, Mutivitamins, Creatine, and Meal Replacement bars and shakes.
26. If you do turn to any of those supplements, make sure it is from a quality, reputable company. The ingredient value can vary widely as supplements are not very well regulated.
27. You can go to http://ncaa.org to find a list of banned supplements and other substances for college eligbility.
Game Day Nutrition
28. Dr Mohr recommends eating a quality meal 3-4 hours before competition. If you have an early morning game, yes that means you should get up early to have a quality meal. Focus on carbs and protien should be the priority (20-30 g protein, the rest carbs).
29. Some good early morning options include an omelette with chopped veggies (broccoli, spinach), breakfast burritos on a
mutigrain burrito shell, fruit with peanut butter, eggs with fruit and french toast.
30. Don’t forget hydration, aim to drink 1 cup of fluid 15 minutes before a game and make sure you sip on water regularly in the hours leading up to the game.
Building Muscle & Losing Fat
31. A good starting point to building muscle is to add an extra 500 calories per day of quality protein, high fiber carbs, and healthy fats. See where that gets youfor a few weeks before going further. That can be as simple as a handful of nuts (almonds are a good choice) and a glass of milk. If you need more to gain lean mass, add another 500.
32. Adding a snack at a time where you don’t normally eat is an easy way to add those 500 calories once or twice per day.
33. To lose fat, do the opposite and find 500 calories of low-nutrient foods that you can cut out. If that isn’t enough over a few weeks to hit your goals, find another 500 bad calories to drop.
34. Make sure you keep your protein and vegetable intakes high, though. They keep you from getting hungry and help you to maintain muscle mass.
35. The average American drinks 450 calories per day. Start there and drink water as often as possible.
36. Another fat loss tip is to slightly shrink your portion sizes to avoid wasted eating.
37. Losing 1-2 lbs per week is a good goal, any faster and you risk a rebound effect later. For muscle gain 2-3 lbs per month is realistic if your training and nutrition are both dialed in.
Fast Foods & Travel Games
38. When teams travel it can be hard to avoid fast food trips. One way to minimize the ‘damage’ is to make sure you pack a bunch of healthy snacks that travel well so you can limit how much you eat at fast food stops.
39. Some good snacks that travel well are meal replacement bars, healthy trail mix, fresh fruit/veggies, sandwiches/wraps, salads, and
whole grain crackers with string cheese.
40. For anyone struggling with an eating disorder, or knows someone who might be, some great resources to check out are the Renfrew Center, National Eating Disorders Association, and the NCAA Eating Disorder Intervention Protocol.