In August 2015, Sun-Maid sponsored the ASICS World Series of Beach Volleyball, a 6-day tournament and festival in Long Beach, California. With 26 countries participating, it was the largest non-Olympic beach volleyball event in the world. It was also the final 2016 Rio Olympics qualifier on U.S. soil and Sun-Maid was proud to fuel the competitors with Natural California Raisins during the event. Here, Sports Nutritionist Dr. Suzanne Nelson delves a little deeper into the Beach Volleyball-raisin connection. #RememberRaisins #WSOBV
What goes better together than a warm sandy beach, volleyball, and Sun-Maid raisins? With Rio around the corner and the US certain to be in the medal hunt, we thought you might enjoy learning about how these amazing athletes eat to compete at an elite level.
Beach volleyball is a predominantly anaerobic sport that includes high intensity exercise interspersed with rest intervals. The physical demands placed on players requires them to focus on building lean muscle mass while maintaining a low body fat.
The overall goal of their training diet is to include sufficient energy from nutrient-dense carbohydrate and protein foods along with well-timed snacks to fuel training and support recovery. Energy and carbohydrate intake are determined based on daily training activities. As the intensity or duration of practice increases, so does the demand for high-octane fuel for working muscles.
This is best achieved by a nutrition plan that includes a variety of carbohydrate foods such as vegetables, fresh fruit, dried fruit, whole grain breads and cereals, brown rice, quinoa, whole wheat pasta, along with moderate intakes of protein-rich foods including lean red meat, chicken, fish, low fat dairy products, eggs and legumes. Incorporating heart-healthy fats from avocados, olives, nuts and seeds are also important for health and performance.
Travel and Tournament Nutrition
The logistics of foreign travel along with unpredictable practice and competition schedules can pose challenges for meeting nutrition needs. In order to be adequately fueled and hydrated, players must carry a personal supply of fluids, carbohydrates, and protein snacks that can be used for matches and recovery. Some of these “familiar” and easy-to-transport foods include trail mix, nuts, nut butter, crackers, Sun-Maid Raisins, rice cakes, energy bars and whole grain cereal.
Hydration during Training and Games
Beach volleyball athletes play outdoors, and a combination of high temperatures and humidity, along with duration of intense training sessions and competitions, can lead to significant sweat losses. In order to stay hydrated, they must have a plan to drink at regular intervals.
During competition, matches have scheduled breaks when players can hydrate. The amount of fluids consumed is based on how much they usually drink during training sessions. Of course, intake may need to be adjusted depending on the length of the match and weather conditions (increased heat and humidity = more fluid intake).
While water is a good thirst quencher, it’s not the best hydrator. Instead, a sports drink is often used in addition to or in place of water—especially in hot and intense sessions. In addition to electrolytes, sports drinks have the added benefit of providing carbohydrate to help players maintain both physical and mental performance.
Instead of carbohydrate beverages, some athletes use chews and gels to give them a quick carbohydrate boost during breaks. Although convenient, the more health conscious option is to use real food. The science has shown that raisins and sports chews both produced equal athletic performance, but raisins have a few more advantages. Namely, they provide potassium, fiber and iron, and unlike store-bought fueling chews, contain no added sugar, flavor or colors. It takes about a ¼ cup of raisins to equal the 100 calories found in one serving of 3 chews. Clearly the nod goes to raisins for being the more nutrient-dense fueling option. They’re also less expensive when compared to synthetic products.
Recovery Post Training and Competition
Players usually train or compete at least twice a day. Immediately following exercise, players use nutrition to help them recover so they are fueled and hydrated for the next game or training session. Key nutrients involved in the recovery process are carbohydrates for restoring muscle glycogen levels, protein to assist the muscle repair process and fluids to replace sweat losses. Practical nutrition recovery options include smoothies, nutrition shakes, sandwiches, whole fresh fruit, dried fruit, nuts and energy bars.