Join Turo Virta, an ex-professional ice hockey player turned nutrition coach, as he shares valuable insights into optimizing nutrition for peak athletic performance. In this episode, Turo combines his personal experiences with practical strategies to guide athletes and fitness enthusiasts towards achieving their best physical state through nutrition.
Turo begins by emphasizing the power of simple daily habits over complex scientific theories. He shares how these habits have played a crucial role in his journey and in his coaching with the women's ice hockey national team. Discover how becoming more aware of your daily routines can significantly impact your nutritional choices and overall performance.
Key Episode Highlights:
Turo brings a wealth of knowledge, experience, and a touch of personal flair to this episode, making it a must-listen for anyone interested in sports nutrition, whether you're an athlete or simply looking to improve your fitness regimen.
Links mentioned in episode: FREE GUIDES and CALORIE CALCULATOR
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Hey, and welcome to this fitment to fitness Podcast. Today I'm talking about optimizing nutrition for peak performance. So from little bit of my background, this is more about that ice hockey. But as I'm ex professional ice hockey player, now work with different hockey teams with the Italian national team. And at this week when I'm recording this, we are with the women's national team training camp, and we had a good talk about nutrition and want to talk a little bit about that same things here. But as this is a large topic, it's not only about ice hockey, it's about basically all athletics who are trying to get their performance to the next level and optimizing the performance. Especially in if you are in a season that you have a lot of games you have or your events you are running, you are playing tennis, you have back to back games or events or where you have to be at your best level. And also you can apply this for your all day training. So little bit, like I said, from my background, I'm a professional history player, I played on the label should I turn 30. So that's were 10 years ago, when I retired, I'm still refereeing in top levels. But from my background, like when I was playing professionally, nutrition was unfortunately part that I kind of knew something as we had a lot of different nutritionists talking about stuff, but it never hit me really home. And I wasn't like I was kind of listening. But I didn't apply that advice to my real life. And, and I wish I would learn this earlier. And now within the past 10 years as this is kind of, it's my work. I tried to live, how I preach what I teach. And here I'm going to share a little bit my own examples, but also giving you a little bit strategies. And just the ways to think and I'm not I tried to not sound like some doctor, I tried to talk like that every person can understand what I'm talking so with a very simple way. So I'm not going any scientific details too much. I hope. So. I hope you enjoyed the conversation. And if you do, I would appreciate it. If you know someone who would benefit from this episode, please share it with one of your friends or tag it in your social media Instagram story. And remember, if you take me I want to share some love with you would really appreciate it and those who haven't done it all five star reviews on iTunes, Spotify, Apple podcasts, they help a lot. And I would appreciate if you would leave one five star review. But that's only if you get something out of this episode. So little bit. What is for me what is the most important thing is your daily habits. So you might think like, as we talked about its peak performance. And especially like in I use iceberg examples. But like if you think as a hockey player, you have a lot of games you think that what to eat before after games. But actually everything starts already a lot way before you are actually playing a game. Later, we will talk a little bit about how to optimize your nutrition, especially before games would things take care of during the game or during the event and what to do then after but but if you start with just the regular habits, so what we talk today with the women national team is all about daily habits. So what you are doing on a daily basis, and this is something like what was so eye opening for me because I kind of knew like what is healthy, what is not healthy, what are carbohydrates, what is source of protein, but I didn't have any plan what to do, how much what where I should be focusing on if I'm eating healthy and sometimes you know you want to probably enjoy life also and enjoy eating not only recording what is the most optimal way to improve your performance, but you want also to enjoy foods. What you actually in soy, and this is something what I what I always recommend that was for me is to become aware of what you are doing on daily basis. So my examples were like that, just that tracking your nutrition. So this is the best way to do it. Know it like that using the taking. If you don't you don't need to track your food intake for the rest of your life. But if you take a moment to take a week or two from your life and really Take a look at what you are eating. So for me, I learned so much about my portion control how much foods I'm eating, what I'm eating, and about calories, about proteins about carbohydrates, which foods I'm eating on a daily basis, like for my examples for, like, for example, my breakfast, I used to have two slices of bread, maybe with some chicken with some ham with this, it's it's not that. But when I change that, I started now it's a couple years, when I changed it, I started to add more protein. And I was thinking, What is the easiest way because I didn't have I had a happy slice of cheese, a little bit of some ham or something on my bread. And that was not I got maybe 10 grams of protein. And when I changed, I was thinking what I would be adding more to get more protein. So protein, I was talking a little bit later, why it's important, what it does for you and how much you should be getting. But I was looking at other sources of protein. And for me, I found it like it was obviously that kind of chasing habits. It's not happening overnight. And it was so hard I could never imagine to change my breakfast what I have had like 30 years or 20 years in my life and chasing that habit was such a difficult task. But how I started I started step by step, instead of eating two birds, I had only one bread, and had something else with that. And for me, I found when I had some kind of fugu, Greek yogurt or school, high protein yogurt, with some berries or fruits. So I started to implement those things. And then at some point, I was like it it me to shut. I tried to go without bread. And I was using it for smoothie. And now I'm feeling so much better and energy levels what I have during today, how I'm not feeling hungry. Before lunch, almost never, it seems it has changed dramatically. And the reason why it actually happens is that when you have like no, my bro, my breakfast has every single day 50 grams of protein. So what I'm what I'm having, I have 250 grams of Greek yogurt, or skirt, which has around 10 grams of protein per 100 grams. So 25 grams. From there, I add a scoop of unflavored protein powder, which gives you another 25 grams. So I have already 50 grams, what what is the second most important why I do it with fluids or Paris, because it's a fiber. So I'm a person who struggles to eat fruits or berries later on today. So when I make sure that I have my two pieces of fruit every single day already morning, so I have kind of already my fiber covered before I start today and the reason why those two things are the most beneficial. So protein and fiber, they are keeping you satisfied, for longer, so you feel fuller for longer. And, and that is just a game changer for me for my breakfast. And this is but it don't have to be you don't need to make some smoothie if you don't want but this thing good like for your protein goals. Whatever your goal is, like, what I would say that the bare minimum for athletes is around one and a half grams per body weight. So if you're ready, 70 kilos 105 grams, or I would say that if you put it says at least 100 grams every single day, and how to get there like my I weighed 90 kilos. So my protein goal, I try to get a little bit more. So my protein called a sandwich 60 grams, grams per day. And I know that if I'm not having barely any breakfast, any protein at my breakfast, I'm going to have huge problems to hit my protein, although it's getting so hard later on today. So that's why I have to start with the high protein and then just the ways to think protein like how to get it like I'm looking my meals. I don't plan always every single meal but I look what my protein sources are. So I look for example lunch if my goal is to get 30 grams of protein or it could be more, but I'm looking how much I need to be what is my protein source? Let's say it's a chicken 100 grams of chicken you get 2425 26 grams depending on chicken protein per 100 grams if my goal is to get 40 grams, how much I would need to eat to get that 40 grams covered. So this is my protein source for lunch. Then same thing for dinner maybe it's some piece maybe it's streams. Maybe it's it's so whatever you decide to eat, just look what Is your protein source, how much it has protein, how much you would need to eat, to get to hit your protein, or whatever that number is. And this is this helps. It's all about like planning, and preparing, being prepared for those situations when, when you don't know what to eat, or, or obviously, like hockey players, if you are traveling, you don't always have that choice, what you are going to eat you are maybe you get some food, but you don't know what it's going to be, or what your protein sources are going to be. So but when you have those, everything which you can impact, it's not about being perfect, it's about doing those, what you can affect, and the best possible be what you can do. So these are just my own examples from my, my daily habits, how I have built it, and what I do like, then it's it gives so much more freedom than later on, if you have those kind of habits, for example, protein otter thing, like, what is what have helped me, I haven't been sick for the past two years, I barely never have some fever, or anything. And I think I'm not sure, maybe I'm adjusted lucky. But I think that just my habits might have something to do so. So all kinds of vitamins, minerals, and obviously, you know, like that there's so much information which should be removed not to eat. And my daily habit is to make sure that I eat one big salad each day. And some days it's going to be two, but at least that's the bare minimum to have some kind of at least some side vegetables. Or, ideally, for me, it's a one big seller. So then you are kind of already covered with that kind of healthy stuff that you know you should be eating. Because there is not such a thing that you eat too much of dough. So so you can eat basically, as much as you can more you more you're able to do better at this. So but if you didn't get just a simple way, just one big salad per day, and you are good. Other thing about those daily habits was like we talked about with women about something like what you're doing every day without even noticing. And for me, when I remember back, when I look back now it's over 20 years ago, so long time ago, we had a kind of nutrition information. And it was kind of one of those things that I was listening, but not really listening. And I don't I can't remember almost anything, what happened in what they were telling in that nutrition lesson. But one thing, what really sticks with me is was those daily habits. And I was thinking that what kind of habits I do have. And I was thinking that I drink coffee a bit super every single day. And I love coffee. So I have two to three coffees every single day. And I used to drink soccer. So I've had a deep teaspoon of soccer for five grams of soccer, every single coffee I have. And if you look three coffees per day, it's around 15 grams. Let's say that if it would be on average two coffees per day, 10 grams of soccer every single day. So when I look back now and think it doesn't change, like it's not a lot of Super Bowl one day, but if you sum it together, and then you'd like that if I would keep that happy top. And in one year, it's almost four kilos of super just with the 10 grams per day. And in the New Years, it's 40 kilos in 20 years, it's 80 kilos of pure sugar. And if you put it that for calories, that's one kilo of super it's like I think 4000 calories or something so so if you think it's in ear, if you add it's like a 15,000 calories, less what you are eating just the from soccer in your coffee. So it's not there are so many other small things, what matters what makes in a long run such a big difference but this is just an example how those small daily habits how they impact in longer term and without even noticing how much what kind of difference that could make and if you think it likes us to fatless perspective, what kind of things you are getting, if it's a 50 calories every single day it's like a 15 minute walk. What do you consume the amount of calories or? Or if you think it's just the fat I'm not saying that it's you can't compare it like directly that I think I wouldn't have now. Vert of like 15,000 calories more or 10 kilos of fat more if I would keep drinking my coffee we took are, but for sure it makes such a big difference. And this is that's why like these kinds of things, if you what you are doing every single day can make such a big difference even they don't feel at the time that you are actually even changing something. But more often you repeat those habits, you will get what you actually deserve. And and this is just an example how important those small things, what you are doing on a daily basis, then if you are personally want to have some sweets, that's totally fine but, but just those small daily things makes actually they make a lot bigger difference than every once in a while having some cake or chocolate. So that doesn't make that big difference than having those small daily things. And how you want you can get track there are so many tracking apps, if you don't know how many calories you should be eating, or how much protein you should be getting. I put a link to my soul notes, there's a link for my calorie calculator. So you get I will email you, when you once you fill it up, I will email you your protein or your calorie goal, what it should be to maintain your weight or if your goal is to lose fat, how much calories you should be eating, so you know where to get started. Then the next thing what I wanted to talk is about macronutrients in athletic performance. So obviously there is those three macronutrients carbohydrates proteins and fats, and what is what is the most important thing is like carbohydrates, that is the primary energy source for during the high intensity training and games. So you are you are to energy what you are using is coming from carbohydrates, especially on those higher end in density games and we have carbohydrate storage is depending on version from 250 to 1000 grams per in our muscles lever, and that is what we are using as an energy source. So this is proteins, they are important for muscle repair and growth. So when you are, for example, you're doing strength training, that you probably know that protein is important to repair your muscle muscles, but it's also helping helping with with the preparation, if you are doing some high intensity workout, that protein is helping to repair those damaged muscle tissues. And pets, they are important for long term energy, especially if you're doing doing some doing some for lunch exercises. But for athletic performance, the most important what I'd say that is carbohydrates and protein, as I feel that for most people, fats are not that big issue, they are kind of getting automatically already. Okay. And depending like especially here in Italy, I don't see that athletes have a huge problems with their carbohydrates eater, as we eat here, a lot of pasta, a lot of fries. So you have always some kind of sources of carbohydrates, where the issue comes is often this protein that amounts what we are eating protein is are very low. So it's just my example from experience of working with hundreds of people, I would say that 80 90% of people who start working with me, they are not getting even close protein, what they should be eating, they might eat some protein, and they might think that they eat protein, but when you actually look how much protein you are eating, you are not even close, where you would what it should be doing to get even close to that what is actually possible to optimizing your performance. So the next next part is what to do before pain. So pre game nutrition. So it's, it's it makes such a big difference for your performance during the game. So what you're doing and that is not like I used to think it always that it was just the dinner if we had a game at night. So it was the lunch what mattered, but actually that already starts like 24 to 36 hours before the game. So, what you are eating day before that matters, that is the energy what you are going to use on a game when you are going to play on the after. So obviously that matters to what you are eating the last meal before your game, but actually the basis and the foundation you are building already already did before and that is what what is the most important in that face is carbs. Carbs are like I said they are the source of a energy during that athletic like especially hockey game, which is like around two hours. So, you are using carbs your main source of energy and that is that is to make sure that you have enough carbs. So, what both could be like some kind of good examples like some kind of old brain pasta with lean protein source like chicken and side some vegetables. So, these are kind of examples what would be a good practical meal ideas and if you want to have some kind of snack before the game, it could be some banana or small portion of yogurt with granola for quick energy boost. So, that other thing What if you think that what you should be avoiding then before before so, one thing what if you have any kind of diet system issues is fiber so 36 hours before this was something what I talked in my recent podcast with the sports nutritionist teams it's if you can this episode I think it's a couple of episodes before we talked about endurance sport nutrition and what I learned from him is is that fiber that that it's very individual but be careful with your fiber intake 36 hours before goes fiber it goes in your cart it for some people I don't personally, I don't feel any any issues with fiber, but some people they might get bloated or stomach is upset doesn't work that well as it should be. And fiber is something that you want to eat on a daily basis. It's very important like I said, but just before the games or sporting events Be careful 36 hours before so what are good sources of fiber fluids in general. So fluids are totally like I said banana is totally okay what is with the fiber where the fiber usually is in fluids is in their skin. So it's all like for example apples, apple Apple skin, if you feel like that Apple you're not digesting it will probably try to eat it without skin or like a banana, I hope you are not eating banana with the skin or, or that goes that is that is everything where that most of the fiber is. So fluids without skin are totally fine. But be careful with the skin and all kinds of light if you feel that there is some kind of foods what you need on a daily basis or regularly and you feel bloated or that your stomach or cut is not working as it should be. So be careful with all kinds of paper. And that is that is that's the but it's like I said it's very individual, then, during the game, what is the most important thing is to stay hydrated so that dehydration can significantly impair your performance. So, so hydration, it's such an important part and usually, like it's something that you kind of have to do. And it's not that you it's really hard to overdo. So because our bodies are very good, like if you drink too much, you just gotta go more often to be and but obviously you don't need to it's you are feeling too full but if you are during the game or sporting event, if you start to feel thirsty, it's already kind of too late. So just make sure you sip water every once in a while even you are not feeling thirsty all the time. So that is helping so much so sipping throughout the games and if you're sportive in life or ice hockey game if it takes longer than an hour, consider some sports drinks with electrolytes to replenish all most cells so there are so many options available with salting site or if you don't want to use you can basically access some normal salt to your water so salty something what you are losing when you are speeding, and that is impacting so much for your performance. So that kind of those electrolytes they make a difference and hydration so this is during the game and if you feel like during the sport event like what we talked also with the women's hockey team was like the things what do you I'm not going to tell you what you should not be doing I'm going to tell you a little bit how it's impacting if you for example you decide to have before game Coke or or some dessert or cake or some soccer stuff. So what happens if you is your what is going to happen is your blood sugar is going to spike up and obviously you are getting a boost of energy like right away if immediately that while I'm tired, I'm good. But what happens is that then after relatively quick quick after your blood sugar spikes up, you are performing better for a short period of time. But then after that blood, the blood sugar level, your initial levels are going to drop drastically. So they are going to be lower than they were in initially. So if you decide to drink Coke or some sweet stuff before a game, or like, let's say, two, three hours before the game, and then you don't have to wonder why you don't have any more energy. But then on the other hand, during the game, like during the sport event, if you if you feel like that you are missing energy, that you're you feel like that your energy stores are kind of empty, then it's totally fine to have something quick, super quick, like if you want to eat some banana, what is easily digestible, or even drink some coke or some sugary stuff. So to get that kind of that spike, but I would not recommend to do it in the beginning. But if you think that you have 30 minutes to go or, or in a hockey, you have a one more period, you probably could benefit eating in the last before the last period, having some quick sugary snack what what is getting fast into energy into your body, and that could help you to perform better. So basically, everything what you don't want to do in regular basis during the game, it doesn't make it might actually help you then those other kinds of quick energy boosts what would give you like, good if you don't want to, you want to kind of do it in a healthier way is like some easily digestible snacks. So like kind of handful dried foods, or piece of fruit like a banana, or an apple and all of your energy tools or games or that kind of stuff, what helps you to get but they are they are to those things should be consumed during the breaks or as needed. And depending on your energy level. So they are not necessary. If you feel that you are totally fine, you don't need to have those things, it says to engage that you start to feel like that now I'm starting to lack energy, then those kinds of things, which are easily digestible, might help you to give that little boost of energy, what you should be then avoiding during the game is kind of heavy or fatty foods during the game so so you don't want to have to fatty stuff or heavy stuff. So if you want to have some burger, do it after a game but not during the game. Because usually, or having a big steak probably is not the best idea during the game. So goes it's our they might go some discomfort and slow down that type system because they are not very quickly to digest. So everything what is kind of easily digestible is always the best choice. And then about postgame entries. So for the recovery, it's especially if you be played more often and then you'd like be happier now with the for example national team we are playing back to back games we have a lot of pretty high practice load. So you want to optimize your recovery. So I'm seeing it like this way like what is what is helping to improve your recovery obviously sleep is the most important thing but that is something what comes in after but right after the game for nutrition part because you are going to you are in your energy levels are low. So you want to get something like some kind of carbohydrates the most important than with some salt. So electrolytes so to get the recovery started also getting some protein in right away after to start the repair process having that available. So what we did hear for example that right after the practice, you have some kind of like before you go to cool down before you go you go to shower right away you get some kind of carbohydrates into your body to start that recovery process. So this is the most important thing that you have that hydration and then do starting to prepare process what damage you have done your muscles so to have some kind of protein so usually these kinds of cases if you don't want to you are going to eat for example, hockey. Vert, we go to eat maybe it's an hour, maybe two hour after game before you get actually food into your stomach into your system. But if you get the two hours before right after You're even just finished, you get some kind of easily digestible, it could be some kind of post workout meal, banana, it could be some drink, it could be protein shake, protein powder, whatever something where you get that kind of some kind of fuel into your body that you start that repair process. So there is basically three errors, what is easy to remember. So, brief well repair, rehydrate and pressed so this is for errors to remember for after the game so, so reef Well, it's to eat something carbohydrates protein, the most important repair, it's the same thing rehydrate. So drinking a lot of liquids and rest. So, making sure to try to optimize your sleep after the game post that is the time when you are resting. So when you think that then how much you should be eating, what is the optimal thing, it's one gram of carbs like carbs, usually what I recommend and what seems recommended in my recent podcast was one gram carbs per kilo bodyweight. So, to get at least 25 grams of protein and drink lighter fluid. So this is this is the reef well is that if you get for example, you are athlete weighed 70 kilos, 70 grams of kind of carbs. So how you are going to get it, if you look, whatever you are going to drink, or whatever you are going to eat right after to make sure that you have that 170 grams of carbs, if your body weight is 70 kilos, then to get the 25 grams of protein, how you prefer to get it, you can have 250 grams of pre pubertal, you could have protein shake, you could have protein bar, you could have whatever protein source you into a D, but that is to repair your benefits, muscle tissues, and a lot of water. So for example, these kinds of things, I'm a big fan of protein shakes, so we'll get kind of that hydration protein. At the same time, it's relatively easy to get it right away. So so but this is, like I said, in all general people, it doesn't matter. But if you your goal is like if you know that you have back to back games, you need to be at your best level, it's probably the simplest, easiest way to do it. Protein Bars, I don't have, it's up to you. There are so many different brands available different types of proteins. So what I had a full episode about supplements, if you look my podcast, there isn't a full episode of supplements where I go deeper, but basically protein powder. Whey protein powder is the fastest to digest. That's very good. Other one is kind of Cassadine protein, what I use myself plant based protein, there is not a huge difference between them, there might be different, like I personally had some diet system issues with some brands, I my stomach was almost always upset. But when I'd say stick for different print different type of protein, so then there is nothing wrong and it should feel in your stomach that if you are eating, for example, chicken breast or you take a protein shake, it should feel the same. So there is no difference. And it's totally safe. It's not it's just a convenient way, obviously the most optimal way is to have that protein from natural food sources. But like these kind of situations, when you don't have access to having a chicken breast right after the game, probably the protein shake is the simplest easiest way to do it. And like I said, different brands, try what works for you what i i broke what I used myself is absolution I will there is a I have a discount code there. You can use it, if you want to support me, if not totally fine. It's total 15. I will put links in the show notes. So you can use that if you want. If you have your own brand, feel free to use it. I don't need it says the what I use and recommend myself using and Brent what I trust. So that's about protein. So this is these are just ideas. We'll do how to get it. And if you have any questions, just let me know. Email me Turo at fitment turo.com or DME in my instagram at personal trainer, underline doodle. And we will, I will, I will be always happy to help you. So like I said, Thank you for listening and I would appreciate all five star reviews sharing this with someone who you know would need to hear this. So thank you and talk to you soon.