For the volleyball player, carbohydrates are key to optimum performance. A high carb diet serves to supply the needed calories for both the anaerobic and aerobic energy needs of the player. Around 60 percent of the volleyball player’s diet should come from carbohydrates such as fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grain cereals, bread, pasta and rice.
To provide additional energy and assist in muscle repair, about 15 to 20 percent of the volleyball athlete’s diet should contain protein foods such as lean meats, turkey, chicken, fish, nonfat cheeses, dairy, egg whites and trail mixes.
To sustain weight at a competitive level, less than 30 percent of a volleyball player’s diet should consist of foods containing healthy fats. Such foods include nut butters, fish oils, nuts, soy, avocados and salad dressings made of vegetable oil.
To supplement the diet as well as replenish fluids, volleyball players need to consume about two eight-ounce glasses of either a sports drink or water before a game or practice. During play, they should consume three eight-ounce glasses of water or a sports drink for every 15 minutes of play. After a game or practice, they need to consume, as they did before play, two eight-ounce glasses of water or a sports drink.
Nutrition on the Road
During away games, players need to stock the necessary foods to supply their energy requirements and maintain their electrolyte balance. Such foods include sports and breakfast bars, sports drinks, crackers, trail mixes, soups made with noodles or vegetables, cereals, fresh fruits and bagels.
Players should consume a meal prior to playing that is rich in carbohydrates, has a moderate amount of protein and is light in fat. Therefore, an example of a pre-game meal might include grilled chicken with pasta and salad or a lean piece of hamburger with salad and baked potato. For extra fuel, the player should drink a couple eight-ounce glasses of a sports drink or an eight-ounce glass of of water with half of an energy bar. Large meals (around 800 calories) should be consumed about four hours prior to play while smaller meals (around 600 calories) should be eaten about three hours before a game.
- Just as important as the pre-game meal are the foods consumed after training or a game. That’s because muscles can better replace carbohydrates in the muscles shortly after exercise. Therefore, consuming a meal containing foods with nutrient-dense carbohydrates, such as fruits, vegetables, rice, pasta, potatoes, breads or even pizza is helpful in maintaining optimum nutrition. Include proteins, such as lean meat, chicken and cheese and some healthy fats, such as avocados, nuts, soy or fish oil as well.
For similar articles, read Nutrition and Supplements.