ORLANDO, Fla. -- MLS is back and we have experienced more than 10 action-packed days in the Orlando bubble.
The demanding schedule and humid weather conditions present challenges for the athletes, requiring extra attention to nutrition, hydration, and sleep habits.
A typical day will look like the following schedule. Some of my personal involvement will be included in blue!
8-9 am breakfast—full of lean protein options (eggs, chicken or turkey sausage, Greek yogurt), whole grains & starches (roasted potatoes, oatmeal, cereals, bread & bagels), berries, whole fruits and lots of avocados!
Before arriving in Orlando, I worked with the hotel chef to come up with menus our players will enjoy. Eating 3-4 meals per day in a hotel can become boring for athletes, so it’s important to include familiar food with lots of variety.
10:30 am gym time—we have a designated performance center that the players and staff can only utilize at a specified time. Usually, the players have mandatory sessions ~3x/week.
Players recover by drinking Herbalife Nutrition CR7 Drive. This product includes the essential electrolytes lost during training, which helps them stay on top of hydration.
12pm COVID-19 testing—this happens every other day. The management of player and staff health safety has been excellent.
12:30 pm lunch—again, we prioritize lean proteins (chicken, turkey, lean beef, fish, tofu), whole grains & starches (steamed rice, farro, pasta, sweet potatoes, quinoa), tons of veggies (broccoli is the team favorite!), salad and a variety of fruits.
I pass out more electrolytes and remind the players to continue hydrating during their free time.
1:30-4 pm free time—usually the players will use this downtime to nap, rest and recover from the morning session. It’s important to use this time wisely to prepare for the evening training session.
I conduct hydration testing in the afternoons 3x/week. It is extremely important to monitor each player’s hydration status to ensure they are drinking enough water and electrolytes daily. I create individual plans to help everyone meet their needs.
4:30 pm afternoon snack—pre-training mini-meal to get ready for training. This meal prioritizes lean protein and carbohydrates to get the muscles topped off with energy. Some great pre-training snacks include Greek yogurt with berries and granola, a turkey sandwich or hard-boiled eggs with a side of peanut butter & banana toast.
5-6 pm training room prep—the players use this time to receive treatment from the athletic trainers before we head to the training grounds.
I emphasize hydration to those who may have tested mildly dehydrated or dehydrated in the testing. The monitoring helps us stay on top of anyone at risk of showing up to training already dehydrated. Hydration is necessary for mental focus, cooling the body down, keeping the joints lubricated, and supplying the muscles with nutrients. Often times muscle cramping is a sign of dehydration. This is why electrolytes are so important for athletic performance!
6:30-8:30 pm training—each player has their own hydration station. We have individualized numbered buckets that include ice water to keep their water bottles, CR7 Drive bottles, and ice towels cool. This is for COVID safety protocols and also helps us keep an eye on how much fluid the players are drinking.
*I weigh the players before and after training to monitor sweat lost during training. We already do this daily at our facility in Carson, but it is even more important that we continue this habit in Orlando with the extreme humidity. We’ve seen up to 9 lbs lost during a session out here and we wouldn’t know this if we didn’t weigh the players! I then use the pounds of weight lost to recommend rehydration strategies to individual players.
*The players all receive individualized recovery shakes during the cooldown/stretch after training. They drink Herbalife Nutrition Rebuild Strength—which contains protein AND carbohydrates to properly recover their muscles.
9 pm dinner—our last meal of the day includes…. you guessed it, more lean protein, whole grains, and lots of vegetables. We switch up the flavor profiles and cuisines, but always keep the foundation of quality nutrition at our meals. Dinner typically includes a soup as well to provide another way to rehydrate. Fruits, vegetables, soups, smoothies, 100% fruit juice, milk, and tea are all additional ways to hydrate besides water.
As you can see, nutrition plays a very important role in this tournament. We are placing more emphasis on hydration monitoring; however, the focus of our nutrition procedures remains consistent with usual programming. My top priority is to keep the players fueled with familiar foods and products.
I’m incredibly grateful to have our sponsor, Herbalife Nutrition, support us in Orlando the same way they do in LA. They shipped us all our favorite products to ensure the athletes are fueled and recovered to perform to their best!
Nutrition for Win!