Sports Nutrition Tip: Boost your meals with one of these

Today I have another awesome sports nutrition tip from Brian St. Pierre. This tip is a “teaser” from the Nutrition Guide he wrote for my new program Ultimate Hockey Transformation. Most youth athletes have significant room for improvement in every aspect of their eating, but having now looked at food logs for a lot of our clients at Endeavor, I can say without hesitation that this is the area most consistently lacking. It’s simple, and incredibly powerful. You just have to make a choice to do it!

Enjoy! – KN

Tip #4: Eat Vegetables at Every Meal and Most Snacks

As an athlete, your vitamin and mineral needs are increased. And all too often, athletes are deficient in critical nutrients. In fact, research has consistently shown athletes to be deficient in at least 3 nutrients, and as many as 15!

One of the easiest ways to take in adequate amounts of these nutrients is to eat more vegetables. Vegetables are rich in some of the nutrients that athletes are most commonly deficient in, such as magnesium and potassium.

In addition, vegetables are rich in compounds called phytonutrients. These phytonutrients are unique to plant foods, and they provide tremendous benefits to how you look, feel, and perform.

So how do you actually make sure you get in as many as you need?

Veggies – What’s a Serving?

Make a fist. That’s one serving. Easy.

At every meal female athletes should aim for 1 fist of veggies, and male athletes should aim for 2 fists. And everybody should try to get 1 fist of veggies at most snacks too. 

Vegetable Portions

Photo Credit:

While you can have less at some meals and more at others, the easiest way to get those veggies in is to simply focus on having veggies at each meal and the total intake will take care of itself.

Eat Your Veggies Today

To rock this tip, simply pick some of the veggie options below and, by the end of the day, make sure you’ve eaten 1-2 “fists” (aka serving) of them at every meal. You can eat these raw or cooked; however you prefer.

And if you really love one kind of veggie (such as broccoli or tomatoes), go ahead and eat a couple of servings! There is no best vegetable. The best vegetables are the ones you will eat the most often, and the most consistently. This list is just to give you an idea, it is not meant to be comprehensive.

  1. broccoli
  2. cauliflower
  3. carrots
  4. eggplant
  5. cucumber
  6. large tomato or cherry tomatoes
  7. onion
  8. leafy greens like spinach
  9. green, red, or yellow pepper
  10. mushrooms
  11. zucchini / summer squash
  12. butternut squash or pumpkin
  13. green beans
  14. sweet or snow peas
  15. beets
  16. parsnips
  17. Brussels sprouts
  18. cabbage (e.g. red cabbage, Napa cabbage, etc.)

A Work in Progress

Now, this amount of vegetables may sound like a lot. And it can be. However, you don’t have to perfect here. You simply have to eat a few more veggies than you do now.

If you’re new to eating a lot of vegetables, it is cool to start smaller. If you normally eat only 1 fist of veggies per day, how about we make it 2 fists? Once that becomes normal, lets make it 3 fists. Slowly adding veggies to your diet is a far better option than just trying to add 5 fists of vegetables all at once, when you usually don’t eat any. That is a recipe for failure.

Here are some things to try:

  1. Slowly increase your vegetable intake over time.
  2. Try new vegetables to find ones you like.
  3. Try a new way of prepping or cooking familiar favorites.
  4. Aim for more dark leafy greens.
  5. Hit up the farmer’s market and try something in season, or buy something that’s organic.

Use the above list to get you going, but don’t feel like everything else is off the table. Like acorn squash? Add it in. Kale in a Super Shake? Why not?

Don’t get bogged down in the details or stress about the “best” kind of vegetable. Just pick at least one vegetable and put it in your mouth. Go get ‘em.

-Brian St. Pierre, MS, RD, CSCS, CISSN, PN1

P.S. For more information on how to get a copy of Brian’s incredible hockey nutrition resource, click here: Ultimate Hockey Transformation

Brian is a Registered Dietitian and received his Bachelor’s in Human Nutrition and Dietetics from the University of Maine, where he also received his Master’s in Food Science and Human Nutrition. He is a Certified Sports Nutritionist as well as a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist.

Brian worked for three years at Cressey Performance as the head Sports Nutritionist and as a Strength and Conditioning Coach, working with hundreds of athletes and recreational exercisers of all types. During this time, he also authored the High Performance Handbook Nutrition Guide, Show and Go Nutrition Guide, Ultimate Hockey Nutrition and dozens of articles for publication.

Nowadays, he works closely with Dr. John Berardi as a full-time coach and a nutrition educator at Precision Nutrition. In particular, working closely with our elite athletes and fitness professionals. As part of the Precision Nutrition mission, he helps to deliver life-changing, research-driven nutrition coaching for everyone.

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“Kevin Neeld is one of the top 5-6 strength and conditioning coaches in the ice hockey world.”
– Mike Boyle, Head S&C Coach, US Women’s Olympic Team

“…if you want to be the best, Kevin is the one you have to train with”
– Brijesh Patel, Head S&C Coach, Quinnipiac University