Sports Nutrition for The Major League Baseball Player

Next Level Podcast with Host Tavis Piattoly, MS, RD, LD

Mark Melancon- Podcast

Mark Melancon
MLB, Pittsburgh Pirates

Mark Melancon was drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 30th round of the 2003 Major League Baseball draft. He declined the offer so that he could attend the University of Arizona. Mark is currently a pitcher for the Pittsburgh Pirates of Major League Baseball (MLB). Tavis talks to Mark about his journey and the role nutrition has played in his success.

In this Podcast You Will Learn:

  1. How does Mark stay in shape during the off-season?
  2. When did he discover Nutrition as an important piece of the training puzzle?
  3. What blood markers does Mark gets tested to assess his health and performance?
  4. Type of changes he makes to his diet based on blood markers?
  5. The challenges MLB players face during a 162 game season?
  6. Difficulty of eating healthy during a season?
  7. Mark’s diet during game day?
  8. Pre-Game Superstitions?
  9. How does he adjust his intake on night’s when he pitches, especially late night as a closer?
  10. How he ensures the supplement he may take are clean and tested?
  11. Mark’s supplement protocol?

Links and Resources Mentioned in this Episode:

Twitter: @mark_melancon

Podcast Transcript

1:03 Tavis Piattoly Introduction

  • Mark Melancon is a professional baseball player and will be the guest speaker in today’s episode.  We're going to talk really about what his goals are and how he really trains in the offseason. As well as some of the things he does from a nutrition angle that really helps performance. 
  • Anytime you guys have questions whether it's at the podcasts or after the podcast you can email us at support@mysportsd.com
  • Mark plays for the Pirates. He is an All Star from the 2013 as well as the 2015 season. Mark was also the Major League Baseball Saves Leader for the 2015 season. 

4:03 How does Mark stay in shape during the off-season?

  • In recent years, off-season is more like a full-time job. For example, Mark took off only 6 days art the end of this season. Even though you have only six days off, you still might feel behind.
  • I workout at Ben Fairchild Sports Performance’s Training Facility in Houston, Texas.
    • Training, physical therapy, cold tubs, massage therapy
  • Most beneficial to train during the off-season with a trained professional who has a plan and protocol -- such as a specific phases for certain weeks.

7:52 When did he discover Nutrition as an important piece of the training puzzle?

  • In college he discovered nutrition.
  • He attributes nutrition to be one of his pillars of success. Other pillars of his include training, sleep, and skill set.
  • He felt the best he felt when he went to the grocery every day and bought what he was told to buy.
  • High quality fuel or food means you will perform at a higher level.

10:30 What blood markers does Mark gets tested to assess his health and performance?

  • Baseball season is 162 games, not including spring training which is 6 weeks. Post-season games or playoffs can last for another 6 weeks -- equaling about 200 days of the year.
  • Year-round pitching can cause inflammation. 
  • He works with “Inside Tracker” that tests his blood markers such as Vitamin D and cortisol.
  • These blood markers can be used to check current levels and potential injury.
  • Best to get them done every 3-6 months.

13:04 The challenges MLB players face in regards to eating healthy during a 162 game season?

  • Quick food is not always healthy.
  • Travel has a huge impact on eating healthy.
  • Another major impact is who is providing the food service, which varies from team to team and person to person.
    • Person to person: personnel who orders the food may order more/less healthy than another person ordering.
  • If it is late at night, the athletes may not have another choice to get a healthier option.
  • Teams now are starting to understand the importance of healthy foods for at home and away games. For example, teams bringing in chefs to provide healthier foods.
  • Not many MLB teams have sports dietitians.

16:00 Do the visiting teams provide a nice variety of food for the athletes, or does it vary?

  • It varies for different locations. However, more teams are realizing there needs to be more effort in fueling the athletes.
  • On the other hand, other teams are using it to provide visiting teams with not as high quality food as an advantage.
  • Some of the clubhouse attendants are older, so they think any food is good and what it should be.

17:48 Mark’s diet during game day?

  • Game day diet depends on the area/city you are playing in, so the meals that are consumed during game day changes a lot. 
  • He starts the day off with a good healthy breakfast because that’s very important and a major key to performance. 
  • Before getting to the field, Mark likes to have a snack and lunch prior to the game so that he is consuming three meals. 
  • He will eat a snack at the field before the game starts. He aims for a decent amount of energy intake
  • Around the 3rd inning  Mark aims to eat another snack such as nuts or fruit/applesauce to help keep his energy levels going during the game.
  • Around the 7th inning, he will eat another snack in addition to the supplement and Beetroot juice to assist in his focus. Some supplements include caffeine and beetroot juice. Beetroot juice is a vasodilator and helps open up the blood vessels more by increasing the nitric oxide levels in the body. 
  • After the game, Mark tries to eat something as quickly as possible to help with muscle recovery. Structured timing of nutrition is crucial. 

20:52 Pre-Game Superstitions?

  • Mark values a pre-game nap (15-45 minutes) and believes it helps to his advantage. The Pirates offer a sleep room for the athletes as well.

23:16 How he ensures the supplement he may take are clean and tested?

  • He verifies that the supplement has the NSF logo on it before taking the product. NSF is the appropriate and approved logo for MLB players. It ensures clean supplements that are specifically third party tested.

24:40 Mark’s current supplement protocol?

  • It depends on his blood testing and other needs. However, currently he is taking Vitamin D and fish oil. He also takes cherry juice and turmeric to reduce inflammation and cosamin ASU for joints. Other supplements he takes includes an antioxidant, proviotic, and multivitamin.

27:09 What would you tell young high school athletes who want to take it to the next level?

  • Education and discipline
  • It’s not about how big you are in the weight room; it is about how functional you are. You become more functional by playing more sports. Getting different experiences in different sports.
  • Tavis’s advice is that it is best to get balance and do not overtrain.

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