How to Nutritionally Compete at JO's

By Krista Atzinger

JO’s is a grueling four days packed with volleyball during which each team member needs to be in the best-possible physical shape. Paying special attention to nutrition will help decrease soreness, injury, and will ultimately lead to a player’s peak performance. The nutrient timing is especially important due to the high levels of competition and will provide nourishment essential to sustaining your energy levels.  

Here is the breakdown…

Two days before the match… HYDRATE. Make sure you are getting plenty of liquids two days leading up to the tournament. You should be consuming more water and less soda and juice. Soda and juice can dehydrate you more, leading to your muscles looking like beef jerky. If you are not hydrated these beef jerky muscles and ligaments make you more susceptible to injury, which you are obviously trying to avoid. A good rule of thumb is to make sure your urine is clear or light yellow. The darker the yellow the more dehydrated you are.

The night before the first day… carbs, protein, and water are KEY. You need enough carbs in your body to be stored as energy. This needs to be balanced by a protein source, so pasta with chicken or meatballs and tomato sauce is a good go-to. Try to avoid alfredo or white sauce because it is high in fat, which takes longer to digest, resulting in stomach discomfort and lethargy.

The first day... be sure to wake up at least 2 hours before you play so it will give your body time to eat breakfast and digest before you hit the court. A complex carb is the best option before a long day of playing. This includes oatmeal, bagels, pastas, etc. This can be paired with a piece of fruit like a banana, a good source of potassium which helps prevent cramping.

During play… Bring a Gatorade, or PowerAde because your body’s energy storage will need to be refueled. You will need more gas for the tank, and liquid carbohydrates and electrolytes are the best way to refuel. After one hour of exercise, our storage needs to be replenished. 

Break… refill the tank with an actual food substance. This food substance should be a combination of carbs, protein, and water. It should also be low in fat. Therefore, avoid fried foods and fatty foods like pizza, because these foods will decrease performance. Some good options are a turkey/ham sandwich, a wrap, and a grilled chicken sandwich with a side of fruit or a vegetable cup. Avoid having salads because it takes your body a long time to digest and they aren’t an appropriate source of energy for performance.

After you play… the recovery is the most important part of the process. To effectively help your body recover, protein intake it the most important. Make sure your post-play meal is highest in protein with a balance of carbs and is consumed within 30 minutes post competition. I highly recommend bringing a protein bar or drink that you can have on the go as soon as you get done playing. This will help activate your body’s recovery process. If injured, pineapple is a good fruit source to reduce inflammation in the body and help prevent future inflammation.

When in doubt, always bring snacks with you to help replenish your body.

Proper nutrient intake will optimize your performance and can help lead you and your team to a JO championship. Fuel strong!

Krista will be hosting a sport nutrition seminar at VIBE on July 24th at 7:30pm!

Krista is our in house nutritionist - if you have questions or would like to set up a consultaion please contact us.