I started the talk by asking the lads what their current eating looked like. I got a blunt "Shit" in response! Fast food, sweets and energy drinks seemed to make up the majority of their diet. Unfortunately this is the reality of teenage eating in a lot of situations, we've all been there and the fortunate thing is at a young age you can get away with it. However sorting the lads' eating now will give them a huge advantage as they progress, not only in terms of their sport but also academically.
In order to simplify things I gave the lads the following 3 'take home' points:
1. Eat Real Food - No ingredient lists!
This may sound familiar to regular readers of the blog and this is with good reason. This is the single most important step to improving health and performance. I stressed to the lads the importance of basing your diet around foods with no ingredient list, meals of meat, leafy greens and, if needed, tubers. Such foods help stabilise your hunger, increase your energy and give you plenty of nutrients. All important for student athletes. This isn't to say that you can never have sweets or fast food again, just try my way for a little bit, see how you feel and then see whether you want to go back to your old eating! You can then include occasional treats after games and get a benefit from them.
2. Time your carbs - fat in the morning, carbs at night/post training.
Another familiar message for regular readers. Moving carbs to post workout/training helps you get the most from them in terms of recovery and muscle building whilst eating more fat in the mornings helps your body adjust to burning fat for energy. Running on fat has great benefits for aerobic endurance, mental clarity, hunger stability and, obviously, body composition.
3. Save money on supplements - stick to the basics.
Every young guy that has dabbled with lifting weights will, at some point, get taken in by the adverts for sports supplements that promise to give you the ultimate physique. The reality is that the vast majority do nothing other than give you expensive urine. As young men your bodies are primed for building muscle so you really don't need any testosterone boosters. All you'd want is a basic post workout shake of some protein, some carbs and some creatine. Look for companies that test their products to ensure they are clean. The informed sport website has a full list.
After discussing these 3 points the lads asked a couple of questions which I've tried to summarise below:
What would you advise for someone wanting to bulk up?
The biggest factor to consider here is your protein intake. You want to be aiming for 1-1.5g per lb of bodyweight as a rough guide. Every meal should include a quality protein source and don't rely on just shakes, real food wins for adding size. You next want to make sure that you are getting plenty of carbs in alongside the protein in your post workout and evening meals. Meal size is more important than meal frequency here so don't be afraid to stack the plate high. Keep your overall calories high throughout the week by having a higher fat intake in the mornings and on rest days. English breakfasts are ideal in the mornings and my favourite off day snack is a decaff coffee full of thick cream. From here it is just a case of tweaking, if you feel you are putting a bit of fat on then take your calories down a little bit, if you aren't seeing changes then increase them slightly. Just keep any changes small and gradual, you aren't going to turn into Ronnie Coleman over night. Have patience!
How should we train in the gym?
If you haven't had any formal gym instruction then it is important to start basic and nail your technique before you start adding a lot of weight. Getting this right now will save you a lot of time in the future and you will quickly overtake the people trying to work on their ego before their muscles. I've written about foundational training in more depth here: http://www.thebreedproject.co.uk/blog/foundational-training-for-young-athletes so give this a read to understand the basics. From there it is a case of focusing on the core lifts of squat, deadlift, bench, chin, overhead press and weighted carry. A great program to get started with is Defranco's 'Westside for skinny bastards' which you can see here: http://www.defrancostraining.com/articles/38-articles/60-westside-for-skinny-bastards-part1.html
I hope this brief summary has enough info to get any young athletes started on the right track. Please get in touch if you'd like some more detail. I also have a couple of training spots available if anyone would like some more thorough coaching and mentoring as a student athlete looking to make the next step in their careers, please go through the contacts page for more info.