In the world of Major League Baseball (MLB), athletes will go to great lengths to ensure that they can perform a step above their competition. A trend that has been sweeping the sport over the past 10 years has been proper nutrition. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, not much attention was paid to what players were putting in their bodies. Major leaguers such as C.J. Wilson, Bronson Arroyo and David Lough were in the vast minority when it came to the benefits of a healthy diet. Their approach focused on lean protein sources, organic produce, a gluten-free diet and the right combination of vitamins and minerals that gave their bodies the energy and stamina it required to make it through the incredibly demanding season - and possibly the playoffs.
But while these sports nutrition pioneers were counting every calorie and exploring new nutritional foods, their fellow ballplayers were filling up on pizza and lasagna and turning to illegal performance-enhancement substances to achieve great feats on the diamond. That was around the time when the MLB decided to intervene, banning the use of steroids, human growth hormones and other substances that helped players make huge muscle gains in incredibly short periods of time.
It soon became apparent to players that they needed a more wholesome approach to keep themselves poised for the demands of life in the MLB. And the answer has been more nutritious habits.
"In the last four or five years, it has really significantly taken off," Wilson told USA Today in a recent interview on the popularity of sports nutrition among active players. "And from where it was 10 years ago, we're like light years ahead as a group."
Individuals like Erika Wincheski - a performance dietician manager at the EXOS training center in Phoenix - have seen a massive uptick in the number of professional athletes seeking a dietician or nutrition counselor to help them maintain a more healthy lifestyle that ensures a great performance every time they step onto the field.
"I would say baseball players, especially now, are usually the ones who are more interested and more inclined to listen to some of the nutritional guidance I can give them," Wincheski expressed to USA Today.
Her approach focuses on eating meals containing a specific amount of carbohydrates derived from grains and starches combined with fruits and vegetables about three to four hours before a game. Ball players will typically consume these meals at their respective stadiums, and in many instances, they are prepared by the organization's supervised chefs.
Combining a healthy diet with the right supplements
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