Friday, February 8, 2008

Baseball Nutrition

RT Staff Note: We get many questions about nutrition and how it applies to baseball, gaining strength, lean muscle mass, performance and recovery. Andrew McInroy is a highly-sought after consultant who works with numerous amateur and professional-level athletes and will make this whole nutrition thing very clear - once and for all. Enjoy!

Part I - By Andrew McInroy.

Want to hit the ball harder? Throw the ball farther and faster? Have more speed and agility? Certainly, you already know the baseball training info provided by Jon Doyle and is second to none. But a large part of your results will be due to your nutrition.

In this three part series, I will give you the basics of nutrition; however, I can guarantee that with this knowledge, you will be able to significantly get closer to your goals.

Nutrition is the most important aspect of athletic performance. In Baseball, you require strength, power, explosiveness and more. Nutrition will help build the muscle and provide the energy required for these needs.

Nutrition is the most important aspect of achieving a higher level in any physical activity. If you do not have proper nutrition, you will not have adequate energy nor will you be able to feed your body with the nutrients necessary for many processes such as protein synthesis (muscle building), biosynthesis of hormones, ossification (bone formation), and the list goes on and on.

Too often, people invest large amounts of money into supplements and do not take nutrition into account. Even though you may be working hard in the gym and have the "cutting edge supplements", you will see a major lack of results (or no results) if your nutrition is not in check.

Enough of this "chit-chat". Let's dive right in…


On the back of a nutrition label you'll see a section marked "calories/cals". This is referring to the amount of energy you will receive from eating that food. You need calories to do any physical activity and when you do physical activity, energy is burned and this is generally expressed as "calories burned".

The Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) is defined as the energy required for the functioning of normal body processes. Basically, this is the energy that you burn sitting there and doing nothing and it does not take into account energy expenditure during physical activity. This is an important tool in nutrition as it is one of the initial steps for a nutritionist in designing a meal plan. The methods for calculating BMR will not be expressed here but will be discussed in the later portion when we talk about building your diet.

In nutrition, there are rather general and simple rules when it comes to diet and calories:
1) If you consume more calories than you burn, you will gain weight.
2) If you consume less calories than you burn, you will lose weight.
3) If you consume the same amount of calories as you burn, you will maintain body composition.

However, these rules, as stated above, are general and simple; perhaps a bit too general and simple. For instance, let's say that you are burning 2000 calories a day and you want to lose weight. Does this mean that if you eat 1500 calories of sugar that you will ultimately lose fat because you are eating less than you burn? NO! Any sensible person with the slightest knowledge of nutrition would tell you that this method to losing weight is absurd, but 'why' will be discussed further on.


Nutrients are the essential parts of our diet required to live. For instance, water is a nutrient and if you go too long without it, you will end up dehydrated and eventually die.

There are six classes of nutrients:

Proteins, Carbohydrates and Fats are called the macronutrients.

Vitamins and minerals are called the micronutrients.

THE MACRONUTRIENTS: Proteins, Carbohydrates and Fats


Proteins are found in pretty much everything you eat and vary in amount. Protein is very important for many processes in the body. We get protein from sources like steak, milk, eggs, and fish. Within the body, protein makes up many structures such as muscle, skin, and organs.

Protein is composed of subcomponents called amino acids. Most proteins are made up of 20 common amino acids; 9 of which are essential and 11 being nonessential. Essential amino acids are amino acids that we must obtain from our diet as opposed to nonessential amino acids which we do not require from our diet as we can biosynthesize (create) them within our body.

The basic and main processes that amino acids do within the body are:

1) The building up of protein containing tissue like muscle and skin and production of other nitrogen containing compounds in our body such as amine hormones like adrenaline. Only a limiting amount of amino acids can be used for these processes and therefore any remaining amino acids goes to the remaining 3 processes.

2) Gluconeogenesis: The production of glucose from carbon skeletons of amino acids by the liver.

3) Production of Energy

4) Storage as fat

NUTRITIONAL VALUE OF PROTEINS = 4 calories per 1 g of protein

Example: Dave consumes 1 scoop of whey protein which consists of 24 g of protein. Therefore:

24 g of protein x 4 calories = 96 calories from protein.

Protein digestion will not be discussed in this article; carbohydrate digestion is of the most significance.


A common target in fad diets; carbohydrates are not our enemy. Rather, they are our best friends when it comes to raw, efficient and powerful energy. Carbohydrates are more than likely the most important macronutrient that is regarded when designing a nutrition plan as it is manipulated in many ways in order to meet the specific performance needs of an athlete. We get carbohydrates from many sources but first we must talk about the main three types of carbohydrates:

Simple Carbohydrates are basically sugars and fall into the category of monosaccharides and disaccharides. Monosaccharides are the simplest forms of carbohydrates in chemical structure and often resemble the formula C6H12O6. There are three (3) monosaccharides:

2) Fructose
3) Galactose

Simply enough, there are 3 disaccharides and are composed of two monosaccharides joined together:
1) Maltose (Glucose + Glucose)
2) Sucrose (Glucose + Fructose)
3) Lactose (Glucose + Galactose)

Examples of sources of simple sugars:
-candy bars
-maple syrup
-fruits (fructose, get it?)
-table sugar

Complex Carbohydrates are simply extremely large chains of monosaccharides joined together to form one huge molecule.

To put these two types of carbohydrates in perspective of one another: imagine that you have a long metal chain; each little component of that chain would be a monosaccharide while the chain as a whole would be the complex carbohydrate.

Examples of complex carbohydrates:
-whole wheat bread
-whole wheat pasta
-oats (a powerful component to any serious athlete's nutrition)
-yams (Kind of potato)

Fiber is basically a carbohydrate that our body does not have the enzymes, which are components needed to digest food into smaller particles, it needs to digest the fiber. Therefore, fiber passes through our digestive system, mainly undigested (mainly undigested, but in the large intestine, bacteria act on fiber).

Fiber does not contribute to calories.

The benefits of fiber are that it contributes to fullness, helps to protect against bacterial infection like appendicitis, reduces risk of colon cancer and coronary heart disease, helps to stop hemorrhoids and constipation, and the digestion and absorption of carbohydrates is slowed down (Therefore, the body can deal with glucose better).

Examples of sources of fiber:
-whole wheat bread
-whole wheat pasta

As a general rule of thumb, if your carbohydrates are complex carbohydrates, they more than likely will contain a good amount of fiber.

Conclusion to Part I: As you can see, nutrition is a deep subject containing many aspects and angles. In Part I we discussed some of the basics but in the next article we will discuss carbohydrate digestion, fats and their chemistry, and most importantly, the secrets of carbohydrates and their ability to help you get huge, strong, and ripped is revealed. Between now and the next article, throw a steak on the grill, drink some whey protein, have some cottage cheese so that you can get more muscle behind that swing or throw the ball a few more miles per hour faster. Thanks for your time and I hope you're ready for the next part as it contains the most important subject of nutrition.

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