Source: Major League Baseball News
In the home team clubhouse of the Cincinnati Reds at the Great American baseball park, food is plentiful in the dining area.
There’s a salad bar, a fruit section, scores of nuts and a fridge full of yogurt. In the back, where the kitchen is located, the selection is something you’d find at a fancy wedding reception: tenderloin, stuffed salmon, boiled asparagus, baked potato and shrimp with pasta.
A special occasion? Nah. Just a typical day in the life of a major league baseball player, to whom health and optimum physical condition are key, and where scores of support staff are available to help them stay on course.
Players have been disciplined in the weight room for a couple of decades, but dietary habits are still evolving. Judging from the clean living taking place inside the clubhouse walls these days, it appears most players are accepting the idea that what they put in their bodies over long periods of time can directly affect their performance on the field.
Bronson Arroyo, the 36-year-old starting pitcher for the Reds, recalls, “If you jumped in the shower with half the team back in 2000, there was probably a beer on every other soap dish in the shower.
“Now you never see a beer after the game. You never see anybody smoking a cigarette. The evolution of this game in the last 15 years has been amazing in a lot of ways.”
Snacks and munchies are still available in most clubhouses, but not to the extent they were 10 years ago. Finding candy and potato chips is a little more difficult, whereas peanuts, almonds, walnuts, Greek yogurt, fruit and salads are readily available upon entry into the clubhouse lunchrooms.
Today, clubhouse chefs and team nutritionists can be found on nearly every major league baseball staff, and they have the answers. It’s all about balance and discipline.
“Guys are starting to realize what you eat reflects how you play and feel,” said Washington Nationals infielder Chad Tracy. “If you get tired or headaches or you get bloated or gassy — guys are getting smarter about it. They want the good food now. I think the players have really pushed for this for a while, and especially some of the guys that do keep tabs on what they put in their bodies.”
When it comes to healthy eating, a well-balanced non-processed regimen is preferred 70 percent of the time, but there needs to be a little wiggle room so that outside cravings don’t become a problem.
“Every once in a while, it’s OK to cheat,” said Chicago White Sox director of conditioning Allen Thomas. “It’s OK, because if not, you’re going to fail. Every once in a while, if they get a burger, that’s fine. It’s our job as strength and conditioning professionals to just say, ‘Hey, you can afford a burger — the ones with leaner meat instead of the McDonald’s drive-through.’ There’s a lot of avenues to take on it.”