In the past, baseball nutrition was an afterthought in the Major League clubhouse. In recent years, however, many MLB teams have made a shift that is bringing them in line with the nutrition practices of other pro teams. Several teams have hired full-time sports dietitians as it becomes recognized that good nutrition can enhance performance and help with injury prevention and recovery.
The importance of balanced nutrition is not lost on baseball superstars. So what do baseball players eat? Here we look at five players who make good food a priority on and off the diamond.
David Ortiz “Crushes” Seafood and Veggies
“Big Papi” David Ortiz played for 20 seasons with his last 14 seasons as part of the Red Sox roster. While he retired in 2016, this designated hitter, home run dynamo, and three-time World Series Champion, leads our roundup because he’s always espoused sensible eating.
Ortiz is widely documented as being a fan of Tom Brady on the field but not of the TB12 diet. He has stated that the TB12 diet is too strict for his enjoyment. Ortiz has said though that he does love to “crush” seafood and when he was playing he loaded up on vegetables and avoided alcohol.
According to Boston.com, while David Ortiz played for the Red Sox, Tara Madigan, was the sports dietitian who worked with the players. Tara has not disclosed what she worked on with individual players. But, she has said that healthy eating on the road was the key to good nutrition for many. Madigan’s eating out advice included choosing grilled protein, avoiding oily sauces, choosing dressing on the side, and eating vegetables. Tara also encouraged a food first approach for protein. However, when supplements were used only those that were labelled NSF Certified for Sport were used. The NSF International Certified for Sport labelling system guarantees that these supplements are tested and do not contain banned substances. When you are choosing supplements, follow the lead of the Red Sox dietitian, and only choose supplements that are NSF Certified for Sport.
Aaron Judge Pre-Games with Smoothies
At 6 feet, 7 inches and 282 pounds, Aaron Judge is one of the biggest players in the MLB. With his size and baseball prowess it’s no wonder he has incredible power behind the bat. Not only does he hold the record for the most home runs by a rookie (52), he can also hit a baseball hard. Judge holds the record for the fastest exit velocity with a ball clocking 194.9 km/h off his bat!
How does he sustain this power and his large physique? Interestingly, it is said that Judge focuses his baseball nutrition on vegetables and getting his greens.
As for how he readies himself for a game, Judge avoids heavy meals and instead pops fruit, veggies, and almond butter in the blender for a nutrient dense, but light pre-game snack. Judge’s clean eating approach is bound to be an element in his baseball success.
Mike Trout Makes Hydration King
Next up is Mike Trout who is hot off signing a 12-year $400 million plus extension deal with the Angels.
This centre fielder, who is known for hitting home runs and stealing bases, is also adept at keeping well hydrated. With the many hours spent on the field or in the dugout, hydration is an essential component to good nutrition for baseball players. Baseball can be a fast-paced sport that requires quick thinking by its players. In order to maintain focus, and be able to engage in sprints, players should ensure that they drink fluids before, during, and after, each game.
In addition to hydration, Mike Trout is said to balance his protein intake and vegetables and to stay away from sweets like candy.
Kris Bryant Leaves Room for Ice Cream
Kris Bryant, another home run phenom, is a third baseman for the Chicago Cubs and was a member of the 2016 Cubs World Series-winning team.
Figuring out the baseball nutrition of this University of San Diego alum is a bit tricky as there is not much in the media. One of his first Instagram posts shows that Bryant does enjoy chicken and veggies which is a combo chosen by many athletes. But, why we like him is most is because of his proclaimed love for ice cream. Choosing wholesome foods often is essential for an athlete, but sugary choices like ice cream can still be part of an overall healthy diet if they are limited to about 10% of your calories.
Bryce Harper Chooses Homemade Whole Foods
Bryce Harper starts the 2019 season on a new team but hopefully will keep his diet tried and true. This Philadelphia Phillies right fielder and former NL Rookie of the Year (2012) is known for hitting home runs on opening day so we’ll be watching him closely.
While Harper shares Kris Bryant’s love for ice cream, he reportedly attempts to choose a healthy diet overall. Harper has said that he enjoys homemade cooking (especially from his mom!) and tries to choose whole foods.
In addition, Harper avoids alcohol and he avoids energy drinks due to their high sugar and caffeine contents. Not a bad example to set for his young fans. Adverse reactions to energy drinks in adolescents are relatively common. Such reactions can occur because of the high caffeine content of these beverages. Energy drinks are often marketed to young athletes as a way to improve alertness, performance, and endurance. But, symptoms such as agitation, heart palpitations, gastrointestinal upset or worse can occur with misuse. Take Bryce Harper’s lead on this one and stick with good old-fashioned food instead.
The Takeaway for Your Baseball Nutrition
These five baseball players give us examples of how to shape your own nutrition for the sport. To eat like a baseball player requires much the same general focus as any other athlete. Priority number one is to choose wholesome foods and a balanced diet. Within the food groups, healthy carbs and lean protein choices are important. Follow the trend across the diets of many pro players and make vegetables paramount. And finally, good hydration will ensure you are focused and ready to run some bases!
Nutritional planning is integral to achieve your optimal athletic performance. Gazelle Nutrition Lab delivers one on one or group nutritional counselling and consulting to both recreational and high-performance athletes. In addition, the Food For Thought Blog is a free resource for healthy recipes and health tips. Have questions? We’d love to hear from you! Get in touch!