Think of your body like a car. If you put cheap gas in your vehicle there is a good chance that your automobile will run slow and may even break down. I use this analogy with the athletes I work with because I think it gives them a clear image of what can happen when you put poor fuel into an engine. I look at our body like an engine. If we feed it the essential nutrients and minerals that we need, we give ourselves the best chance to run efficiently as well as reduce the chance of injury. Below are some tips that may help you when it comes to your nutrition.
Water is essential to recovery, performance and life. It’s essential if you want to reach peak performance so drink up! The quality of your water is important as well. A brand that I like to drink is called Gerolsteiner (Mineral water).
When you go food shopping you should spend the majority of your money on products that are located on the perimeter of the store.
Stay away from the middle isles as much as possible. On the outside you will find products like vegetables, meats, fruit, dairy, eggs, etc. On the inside you will find processed foods that your body does not need.
Eat vegetables with every meal. An easy way to do this is to add vegetables such as zucchini, tomatoes, kale and broccoli to your meals. If you eat eggs in the morning mix in some peppers and make an omelet or put kale into a smoothie. Have a salad at lunch time and fill it with the vegetables of your choice. There are so many ways that you can mix in some vegetables to your daily routine.
Choose the highest quality foods that you can afford. I never tell anyone that they need to eat organic food. Eat what you can afford and always look for fresh food when shopping.
When frying certain foods cook mostly with coconut oil and grassfed butter. Avoid cooking at too high of a temperature if possible. High temperatures can cause foods to oxidize which could cause problems for your body.
Eggs are a great way to start the day. The yolk has the majority of the health benefits that our body needs. Don’t make the mistake of just eating egg whites. Eat the whole egg.
Consume foods that improve your digestion. My top three are the following:
- Grassfed yogurt (avoid the high sugar and low/no fat varieties)
Fermented foods are very good for your digestion.
Avoid processed carbohydrates as much as possible. Good carbohydrate choices would be green leafy vegetables, sweet potatoes, berries, pumpkin, plantains, white rice and fruit in moderation. The ability to control your blood sugar levels is very important when it comes to metabolic function.
Plan your meals and think ahead. Always have a snack with you in case you get hungry at work or before a training session. A good example would be a handful of macademia nuts or a homemade energy bar.
Use sea salt daily. If you have a medical issue please consult with a doctor on how much salt you can add to your meals. Sea salt has several minerals that are often depleted in regular table salt.
Learn how to make healthy smoothies. These are great for breakfast or for a post workout meal. Here is a simple yet effective smoothie for a post workout meal. Most store brand smoothies are filled with sugar and low quality protein powders.
- 1 cup of water
- 1 handful of green leafy spinach (washed)
- ½ cup of frozen raspberries
- A large handful of ice cubes
- 1 tbsp. of melted coconut oil (mix this in when the blender is running)
Mix this up for 30 seconds and pour it into a glass. The key is a lot of ice and mix until smooth and creamy.
Eat red meat, chicken, pork and lamb in moderation along with fish (sardines, wild salmon).
Fats (both saturated and monosaturated) are critical to your overall health. My favorite ways to add fat to my diet are the following:
- Grassfed butter
- Eggs (cage free)
- Raw milk (Note, you need to be very careful where you get your raw milk. Only get it from a trusted source.)
- Macademia nuts as well as other nuts and seeds
- Coconut oil
- Olive oil
- Chia seeds
Avoid fat free foods since most of the time they are filled with sugar as well as other processed foods.
Eliminate or greatly reduce soda intake.
Learn to read food labels. Manufactures have several different names for sugar. Learn how to distinguish what is healthy and what may be a poor choice for your body (i.e. high fructose corn syrup should eliminated from your diet)
Take fish oil daily (Omega 3 fatty acids that have been shown to have benefits for your heart as well as benefits for your joints).
I would recommend that you seek out the advice from experts and get the highest quality fish oil you can find.
If you want to perform like high level athletes it all starts with your nutrition. The key to your success is to plan ahead and keep things simple. Learn the basics and your body will reap the benefits.
Last Saturday, the Philadelphia Union honored the family of tri-state soccer legend in Stan Koziol.
Koziol, affectionately known as “Stas” or “Stosh,” passed after a battle with leukemia.
He was 48.
He is survived by his wife Margret and his two children Nicole and Matthew.
Before the match against D.C. United, the Philadelphia Union Foundation presented a check to the Koziol family in the amount of $3,500. However, as a result of our fans and constituents, the Foundation raised an additional $1,500 and reissued a $5,000 check to the family.
A native of Clifton, N.J., Koziol attended Loyola (Md.) University where he was a two-time All American and still holds the program record for assists. Following college, he turned professional where he enjoyed an eight-year career playing in the old American Professional Soccer League (APSL) for the Maryland Bays (1988) and the Boston Bolts (1989-90). He played internationally for the Puerto Rican national team during qualifying for the 1994 FIFA World Cup and had a fantastic indoor career, playing for the Baltimore Blast (1989-90), Hershey Impact (1991-92) and Canton Invaders (1992-93).
Through the many stops of his illustrious career, Koziol made many friends along the way. Philadelphia Union CEO and managing partner Nick Sakiewicz considered Koziol one of his dearest – family even.
“Stas was like family and a dear friend whose tenacity on the soccer pitch followed him off the pitch and throughout his life,” Sakiewicz said. “It has been an honor to compete against him, play with him and, most importantly, to have known him for most of our lives starting with growing up on the streets of northern New Jersey playing soccer. Stas touched so many lives. We will all miss him immensely.”
On behalf of the Philadelphia Union Foundation and the entire Philadelphia Union family, we’d like to thank all those that contributed to support the family of our fallen friend.
You just finished a great workout at the gym. As you finish up your last “rep” you feel so good about yourself. You made it to the gym today and everything felt great. You were able to keep up with the rest of the group with the workout and you can’t wait to get back to the gym tomorrow. You have decided that this is the year that you are going to fit into your “skinny jeans” or compete in your first adventure race. You have taken the steps that are necessary to get you off to a good start. You have joined the gym and have told all of your friends that this year you are going to improve your lifestyle and change your “bad” habits. As you drive home you start to think about what you are going to eat for dinner. As you head into your house you open the fridge you notice that all you have is a bottle of hot sauce, a pizza box with two pieces of pizza left over from the weekend and three bottles of sugar filled sports drinks.
Does this sound familiar? I think it is pretty common for people to neglect their nutrition plan when they start a new training program. You have good intentions but you have no idea where to start in terms of your diet. Knowing where and how to start can be confusing. One day you hear from a coworker that you must follow Paleo. The next day your girlfriend/boyfriend says that you need to become a Vegan. You get my point. It can be frustrating to say the least. I am going to make this very simple for you.
Here are TEN (10) foods that you should always have on hand just in case you come home and you need to make a quick nutritious meal.
Because we all know that your nutrition plays a pivotal role in your progress towards a healthier life.
These should be in every house unless of course you are allergic to them. Why, because they are packed with vitamins and nutrients and can be eaten with breakfast, lunch or dinner. As we continue to learn fat is vital for optimal health and avocados are at the top of the list in my opinion. Add them to a smoothie or simple eat them solo in order to reap the benefits of this fantastic food.
2. Meat (beef or chicken)
I am not going to get into the difference between corn fed and grass-fed beef in this blog. When I talk about beef however, I am talking about the BEST beef that you can afford. I always recommend grass-fed from a farmer/butcher (I personally do not like store brand grass-fed). Meat offers several nutritional benefits (protein, omega 3 fats, B vitamins, etc.) that are hard to beat.
Kale is packed with Vitamins A and C and offers several benefits to people who consume it on a daily basis. Personally I like to throw kale in a morning smoothie with coconut oil and some fruit because I do not like the bitter taste of kale. With that being said it offers a host of benefits that I recommend you look into. If possible I would always recommend that you buy organic kale.
4. Coconut oil
Coconut oil has been called by many a true “superfood”. It can have a positive effect on brain function as well as weight loss. It’s a medium chain fat that when taken before a workout can provide a tremendous boost of energy. Also, it is great to cook with since it can be heated to a high temperature.
5. Frozen berries (raspberry/blueberry)
If you like to make smoothie than berries (frozen or regular) are a must. Berries are high in antioxidants and vitamins. They also taste great so make it a point to add these to your plan. If you have frozen blueberries, leave them out and let them defrost for 15-20 minutes to get added nutritional value when thawed out.
6. Sweet potatoes
Carbohydrates have gotten a bad rap by many people over the past year. If you are looking for a great way to fuel up after a workout add in a sweet potato with your meal. It will slowly raise your insulin while providing nutritional value. They also provide B6 as well as Vitamin C as well as a host of additional nutrients.
7. Eggs (organic or free range)
Eggs provide 13 essential vitamins. Most people throw away the best part, the yolk. If you want to get lean and feel energized start to add eggs to your weekly plan.
8. Macadamia nuts
When you need a quick snack these work great. They provide Vitamin A, iron as well as zinc and magnesium. They are also easy to digest so they make the perfect snack or an addition to a salad or meal.
I started to implement Kefir into my plan this last year and I love the way I feel after eating this fermented dairy. It helps strengthen the immune system and is a great way to add probiotics to your diet. Make sure that you purchase this from a trusted source and I would recommend that you buy this from a farmer or a reputable health food store. Most store brands have added sugar that you could do without. It’s a great addition to a post workout or breakfast smoothie.
10. Mixed green salad (organic preferred)
A fantastic way for you to eat some raw food is to make a salad every day. It’s simple. Add some mixed greens, peppers, avocado, cucumbers and olive oil. Make sure that when you eat your salad you stay away from fat free dressings. You want the fat because many of the vitamins are fat soluble so this helps with the absorption of these nutrients.
There you have it, ten foods that should ALWAYS be in your house. In a pinch you can make a great meal with these foods. Good luck with your new plan for 2014!
“Union strength and conditioning coach Kevin Miller is also a featured panelist in the Sports Doc blog (link: http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/sportsdoc) on Philly.com. For best practices along with additional health and fitness tips, check out: http://www.philly.com/philly/health/
We finished the month of April with two away games.
The first was in Washington, D.C. and we won 3-2 against D.C. United. I didn't play this game - I was on the bench but I didn't come in. I was happy about the win but a little bit disappointed to not play in the game. The week after, we played New England and we lost 2-0. I was on the bench again for the start of this game, but played the last 30 minutes. However I was not able to help my team win this game.
We came back home at the beginning of May and played against Seattle. Seattle was my first team in America. I spent three years there (two in USL, one in MLS). It's always nice to play your old team and see familiar faces, especially when you had good memories with this club. Unfortunately I was on the bench again and came in the game for the last five minutes. We tied 2-2 with two goals in one minute by Danny Cruz. After this game, we knew that we had a big week coming with three games.
So after losing points at home against Seattle, we needed a win in Chicago. The score was 0-0 when I came in with 30 min left. I played as a right midfielder, and at the 75th minute, Antoine Hoppenot won a free kick in the midfield, very close to where I was. At this moment, I looked up and saw Jack making eye contact with me and I knew he wanted the ball played behind the center defender. I decided to play the free kick quickly because their defense was sleeping and Jack made a good run behind them.
With a little bit of luck, I played the perfect ball and it went in Jack's steps and he did the rest. We won this game 1-0 and it felt good for me to play a part in creating the winning goal. I was hoping that this good performance would get me back in the starting lineup, which it did. Although the loss against LA Galaxy was disappointing, it has added even more fuel to the fire to win the upcoming games. Hopefully by the time you read this blog, we'll have ended this month on a high note.
That's it for this month, I will talk to you again soon.
Merci beaucoup !!
Sebastien Le Toux