Tournament Nutrition: Alcohol

It is no secret that alcohol and ultimate have gone hand in hand for many years. A lot of individuals I know use ultimate as an excuse to party the day away. While none of this is inherently bad, it is good to realize how the combination of these two may not be the best of choices.

First off, alcohol is a diuretic and it will definitely cause you to become dehydrated quickly. Because of this, alcohol should never be a substitute for water. During mid summer tournaments, I recommend to my teammates and those I coach to never consume alcohol before or during the tournament; it is ignorant to consume alcohol in those conditions. During any other season though, the question of whether to consume alcohol or not becomes more difficult to answer.

Surely alcohol has had it’s roots deep in ultimate for decades, but does that mean it should be consumed before and during tournaments? Yes and no. Simply, it depends on what the tournament means. If this is a national tournament that took a whole season of hard work to get to, I would say NO ALCOHOL. If it is a tournament that you and your team participate in for fun and to have a good time on a weekend, then a little alcohol would be fine. Like everyday alcohol consumption however, it is important to realize that a little goes a long way with alcohol. You should never drink yourself to intoxication during a tournament, and even after would be questionable, in my opinion.

There is also another factor of tournaments that involves alcohol: partying. It is common for teams, especially all male teams, to party before or after tournaments as a way to bond together. This happens a lot at the collegiate level, but not as much in recreational or pro leagues. In this sense, alcohol can be an effective way to produce the desired results. However, this should only be done early in the season, because this is the time that this form of team bonding can provide the desired result without setting your team back from reaching their goals.

In summary,

Alcohol Cons:

  • Diuretic
  • Wasteful calories
  • Delayed reaction, poorer performances.

Alcohol Pros:

  • Moderate drinkers have a longer life span.
  • Lower Anxiety
  • Helps “team bonding”

 

For more information: read Interaction between alcohol and exercise

 

Tournament Nutrition: Choosing Foods

It should be no surprise that for anyone, the nutritional requirements follow Energy in vs Energy out. We can easily figure out how many calories one needs for a normal day, and we can prove this through trial and error. However, during tournament weekends, this becomes more difficult to assess and thus, nutrition generally gets thrown out of the window. After a day of eating like this, some can see decreased energy, and an overall poorer performance: Not something we want to happen during a tournament. How do we stay on track with nutrition, but still have fun?

The simple answer is in carbohydrates. Whenever I go to a tournament, I make sure that I have plenty of options for carbohydrates, and I even increase my planned daily intake of them. Why? Carbohydrates are cheap, easy to eat, and generally concentrated. I can eat a granola bar in less than a minute between games, and easily eat 30-40 grams of carbohydrates. However, I want to make sure that all the carbohydrates I eat are not just sugar. Sugar tends to give you a great energy spike, but generally gives you a decent crash afterwards: not something you want when playing at a tournament. So, it is important to eat plenty of complex carbohydrates, like oatmeal or pasta. If you need a good oatmeal recipe that is extremely easy to bring to tournaments, see my article on overnight oats

Carbohydrates are good and all, but you cannot just eat carbohydrates all day, it will not do you much good at the end of the day. That being said, the most natural choice for athletes is protein. Protein provides numerous benefits for athletes in both recovery and sustainability. The problem with protein is that they are generally more expensive, and more difficult to consume than carbohydrates. However, there are a few foods that can be brought to tournaments that can help you hit your protein for the day. My personal favorites are: beef jerky, protein bars, protein shakes. Beef jerky is really expensive, but generally you only need one or two packages for a whole day. Protein bars are pretty similar, but they have the added benefit of adding some carbohydrates and generally a decent amount of fiber. Protein shakes are one of my favorites, because I can drink them quickly, and they generally have a large amount of protein in them. I prefer using MTS Machine Whey Protein, but there are cheaper brands out there with the same quality.

The last important thing are fats. Generally, I do not focus much on fats during tournament days. Generally, if the team goes out for food afterwards, I will get plenty of fats from that meal. If not, a few tablespoons of peanut butter at the end of the day is enough to put me where I need to be. If you want to have foods available that help meet your fat requirements, almonds or any other form of nut is a good source of fat that are pretty easy to snack on. Generally, the fats do not bother me much.

When discussing the end of the day team meal at some restaurant in town, it is important to realize that if the tournament is over, you can go all out as you please. However, if you have another day of tournament play, your food choices should remain sensible. You should not go for that greasy hamburger with fries, and instead get the grilled chicken with potato and vegetables. It might not be the most appetizing meal after a long day, but the next day will be a struggle if you fuel your body with junk the night before.

At the end of the day, it can be difficult to find balance in keeping up your diet, and playing in the tournament. In my opinion, players should try to make good food choices, but also realize that they likely will not be on point with their diet, and that is okay. As long as you do not completely blow your diet out of the water on tournament days, it will not make a huge difference in the long run.

Go out, have fun, be conscious.

Let me know if you have any suggestions for foods to bring to tournaments!

Overnight Oats for Fitness Minded Adventurists

If you have ever been camping, hiking, or adventuring, you have probably had some form of overnight oats. If you have not had them, you have definitely heard of them. Other than providing a nutritious meal, they are popular because of the ease in making them. Making oatmeal is no strenuous task to begin with, but overnight oats requires no cooking at all.

Overnight oats makes for a great meal for those who go hiking, or camping, but it also has its place with the fitness community. Everyone who consistently trains knows that it can be a struggle to find time to cook the food that one needs to meet their goals. Likewise, this food requirement often keeps serious competitors from venturing into hiking or camping, because it makes the difficulty of getting food even more difficult.

Luckily, meals like overnight oats can be “beefed” up to help accommodate us better. My favorite recipe for overnight oats is below, but really, overnight oats can be made to accommodate any needs based on what you put in it, all you need is oatmeal!

Recipe:

  • 1/2 Cup Dry Oats
  • 1/4 Cup 2% Milk
  • 1/2 Cup Low Fat/Fat free Yogurt
  • 1-2 Scoops Protein Powder
  • 1 Tbsp Cocoa Powder
  • 1 Tbsp Peanut Butter
  • Cinnamon to taste

Add all dry ingredients first, stir in yogurt and milk. Cover and put in refrigerator overnight. That’s it.

overnightoats2.JPG

Does not look that appetizing, but it is delicious!

Because of how easy this is to make, there is really no reason to have to sacrifice your diet in order to get outside and have those adventures.

Share your recipes in the comments and let me know how your overnight oats turn out!

Cheap, Effective Way to Improve Your Ultimate Accuracy

If you have ever played ultimate, you know that there are times where you definitely need to improve your accuracy when making throws, especially for throws you just are not as confident with. There are numerous programs out there that have you throw obscene amounts in order to get you more comfortable throwing them, which will improve accuracy. These programs are fine and all, but for someone who is not seriously competing, or just does not have a ton of time: this is not the way to go.

Luckily, there exists a solution for this problem, and, it’s cheap. Many people are familiar with the backyard game: ladder ball. If you are not, you should be. It consists of two goal ladderballgoalposts (called “ladders”) that have three different poles running horizontally across them. So, this creates three different open spaces at varying heights, and if you cannot see how that might be useful for ultimate players, you will soon realize.

Naturally, these three open spaces make for a great target because the disc will fly straight through it, if it does not touch any of the poles. What I have found best to do is to use two of these ladders: one at close range, and one further out, and attempt to throw a disc through the one of the spots on the closer one, and one through the same spot on the further one. This will be difficult at first, especially if you are not that accurate to begin with, but, you will get significantly better over time.

The best part of this accuracy practice program is that it is cheap. Buying the ladders themselves can run around $30, and you can make them for even cheaper if you have the time.

Is this going to make you the best player ever? Probably not. But it will give you a good basis for working on accuracy and will improve your confidence with throwing. Especially as winter approaches here, these have become useful in moving indoors and working on more specific skills, rather than just playing pickup all the time.

Progression Plan:

  1. One disc through each slot in a row.
  2. One disc through each slot, alternating distance.
  3. Two discs through each slot in a row.
  4. Two discs through each slot, alternating distance.
  5. Adding fakes and catch and go movements.
  6. Varying distances significantly.

REI’s #OptOutside 2016

Like last year, REI is running their campaign labeled #OptOutside on Black Friday: the goal is to get people away from the long shopping lines, and get them to spend time outside with friends and family instead.

Like last year, I will be participating. Not because I want to show off and say that I am better than everyone else, but because I want to show the world that there are better things to do on Black Friday, especially because of what Black Friday has become in recent years. Instead of fighting over that new electronic device or toy, I can spend time in the great outdoors and maybe make a few new friends. The deals will still be there the next day, but the experience of living will have dwindled away.

This year, I have chosen to go hiking on the Wittenbach Center’s in Lowell, Michigan trails for a majority of the day, hopefully the weather is nice and I can get some great photos.

Hopefully, some of you will join me and participate in #OptOutside so that one day, we may get away from the chaos that has surrounded the nation on Black Friday, completely ruining the spirit of the Thanksgiving spirit. Hopefully, many businesses will look as #OptOutside as an opportunity for improvement, and not as a way to condemn their actions.

So, this Black Friday: #OptOutside.hiking

Review: Hydro Flask (Nov. 2016)

I have been using my Hydro Flask for about three months now, and so, I believe I can give a full and honest review of the product at this point.

Some background: I purchased the Hydro Flask late July, early August because my previous water bottle was just not getting the job done. I was also excited for the promise of keeping my beverage cold within the bottle for up to 24 hours, as claimed by the company. While the idea of storing hot beverages in the bottle was something I thought I would never use, the added benefit was appreciated.

The first thing I noticed about my Hydro Flask was how bulky it was. I have had 32oz water bottles before, but all of them have had a smaller form and have weighed significantly less. In fact, even when putting the bottle in my bag when I go to class, there is a noticeable change in weight to the bag. However, the bottle is crafted out of 1hydro-flask-still18/8 “Pro Grade” stainless steel, which is where the added weight comes from. The bottle also comes with a powder coat finish that makes it sweat proof and increases the durability of the stainless steel. However, after a few months of abuse some portions of the powder coating seem to be wearing off, or have become chipped.

The inside of the bottle is not too exciting. It is made of the same stainless steel as the outside of the bottle, in nearly the same shape. The bottom of the bottle is raised in the center slightly, meaning that, because I put my daily creatine in this bottle, sometimes powder gets left behind in the bottom. Noticing this, I found it to also be difficult to clean at times, as the brush I use for my other bottles can have trouble fitting into the opening of the bottle, despite the claim of being wide mouth.

All of this so far has been pretty minor things, and do not really attest to the real value of the claims made by the company. The real value lies in the claim of keeping beverages cold for 24 hours, and hot for 6. I purchased this bottle in the heat of the Michigan summer. 90 degree days were common for the first few weeks of use. During these first few weeks, I attended ultimate practice quite often, and the bottle went with me. It was always stocked with cold water when I left home, and despite sitting in the hot sun, the water inside remained cold at the end of the 2 hour practice every time. However, the claim is that it remains cold for 24 hours. To test this, I placed a few ice cubes in the bottle, and filled the rest with water and let it sit outside for 24 hours. When I opened it back up, the water was cool, but it was not cold. I would say, slightly above the ambient temperature.

As for the hot beverage claim of six hours, I have only ever put coffee in the bottle, and it did not remain hot for that long. Based on this, I did not test if it would keep hot water hot for six hours, but I have my doubts.

Also up for discussion is the price tag on this bottle. I purchased this bottle from the manufacturer in the Pacific Blue color with the ‘Flex Cap’ for a price of $39.95 excluding shipping. The closest product I could find to the Hydro Flask is the Yeti Rambler 36oz Bottle, which retails for $49.99. Comparatively, the Hydro Flask is cheaper, for a product that is similar enough to make a close comparison.


Overall, I believe this bottle is worth the price point. I have taken this bottle to practice,hydro-flask-still2 hiking trips, camping, and daily use at home and in class. It has been beaten up significantly, without many noticeable dents or scratches in the bottle. The ease of using the bottle is relatively good, but there are a few features that I can get frustrated with. The claims of it keeping liquids cold for up to 24 hours seems to be slightly stretched, but for the most part it should not be a problem. In keeping it hot, I cannot conclusively say that it does the job, but it could simply be my bottle.

Many bottles I have used have only lasted a month or two, before they become too much trouble for their worth, the Hydro Flask is not one of these cases. I believe that it is a worthwhile investment for anyone who spends considerable time outdoors; from sports and hiking to use in the classroom, it has served me well and I believe will continue to for at least the next year.

Winter is Coming: Time to Move Inside

In Michigan, once the first week of November hits, it generally means the outdoor season of ultimate is over. It gets cold, wet, and dark, quickly. If your team is so lucky to have access to an indoor field complete with turf, then not much changes. However, if you do not have access to this luxury, your team is left playing on some recreation center’s basketball court when it is available; not the most ideal situation.

If you find yourself in this situation, it can be difficult to find a situation in which you can play actual games, if you can, great. If you cannot, you need to refocus the purpose of your practices. Instead of playing games and working on real game situations, the focus of practice should become improving on the individual weaknesses of how your team works together. If your team cannot play tight defense, work on it; if you need work on accurate throws, do it. To many in the north, winter is the time to improve their skills in a way that they simply cannot during the regular season.

Of course, this is not to say that your team should not make an effort to play actual games. Because, at the end of the day, you can practice your skills in a predefined play over and over, but how they translate into the game is what is important.

So, even though you have to move inside this winter, it is important to not lose site of the progress that has been made, and to work further to increase the progress of your team. It may be an annoyance, but it only lasts “three” months.