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Penguins Report: 2012 Development Camp (Day 4)

by Michelle Crechiolo / Pittsburgh Penguins

Today's development camp itinerary featured a trip to Giant Eagle Market District for a nutrition seminar and store tour for the prospects to learn how to properly fuel their bodies. Lots of coverage below, and video up above.

Sadly, the 2012 Penguins prospect development camp is slowly coming to an end as today marked the last day of skill/conditioning practices, workouts and seminars. The players will have an awards presentation on Saturday morning, scrimmage in the afternoon (which is free and open to the public; deets here) and one last team dinner before they go their separate ways on Sunday. It's been a fantastic week so far, and we hope to see you all at CONSOL Energy Center tomorrow!

For those of us that aren’t culinary wizards, remember moving out of the dorms in college and realizing that you were now really, truly on your own in terms of buying groceries and cooking meals? And do you recall how intimidating that was?

Most students I knew (including myself) could push buttons on a microwave and slide the lever on the toaster – and that was pretty much the extent of it. A lot of my friends and I succumbed to fast food way too often because it was easy and cheap.

But while many of the Penguins prospects in town this week for development camp probably feel the same way, poor nutrition is not really an option for them. They are elite athletes, and they must fuel their bodies in a way that elicits peak performance. Though a lot of them are on their own now (or will be once they turn professional), opting for a diet of pizza and Taco Bell just isn’t going to cut it if they want to be successful in this sport.

That’s why the Penguins took them to the Giant Eagle Market District grocery store in Robinson on Friday for 1) a nutritional seminar by Leslie Bonci, director of sports nutrition for UPMC and sports dietician for the Penguins, Pirates and Steelers and 2) a tour of the grocery store to show them the best kinds of food in each section.

“These young players are the future Pens, and this is really the time where if you get (proper nutrition) right now, you’re going to be able to do it when you get out there and you’re a pro,” Bonci said. “Not only that, you’ll do it for a longer period of time. It is career extension.”

Bonci gave a short lecture to the guys on performance eating, and was kind enough to share her top-three takeaways with us.

"Timing. You have to fuel your body before you get out there on the ice and you have to recover appropriately."

#2: "Getting in enough fluid. Yeah, they’re inside, but they sweat a lot – they wring out that sweater when they come off the ice and it’s all nasty. So you’ve got to have enough liquids to do what you want to do so you’re not injured."

#3: "It’s a performance plate. What does that mean? It’s not that just one food does it all. It’s not just pasta. It’s not just a pork chop. It’s not just a potato. It’s kind of some mix of things on the plate. It’s a little color – I’m all about color on the plate, too. We’ve got to do that."

Bonci also added that it’s all about uncomplicating proper nutrition.

“Most importantly, you have to eat what you like,” she said. “It’s also about the timing, finding things within your budget to do and things you can do quickly. We’re not talking 5-star chefs here. We’re talking open a can of this, open a can of that, put it together and bam, you’ve got a meal.”

After that, the guys split into four groups to tour the big, bright grocery store – one of the nicest I’ve ever visited. Brian Dumoulin, who’s actually a great cook and likes to prepare organic meals for his teammates and friends, agreed with me. He told me that he usually shops at Whole Foods, but could definitely get used to a food store like this.

The tours were very thorough. They stopped everywhere, stopping to chat dairy, produce, fruits, nuts and berries, pasta and whole grains and canned veggies, to name a few. The guys actually asked a lot of questions during, which is awesome.

“I think some of the questions were fabulous, like should I do organic," Bonci said. "They’re finding some things they’ve never tried before, and that’s always good. I’m all about the show and tell. That’s why we’re having them do it.”

All in all, the guys left a lot more informed than they entered. And as 2011 first-round draft pick Joe Morrow told us, proper eating plays a bigger role in success than I think we all realize.

“This is pretty much 80 percent of it,” he said. “You can only work out so hard. If you’re not consuming what needs to go into your body, you’re losing more than half of what you’re doing. Food’s a huge part of it. I was happy to learn a lot about it today.

“If you can feed yourself properly, it’ll give you an extra edge on the competition if they’re out eating McDonald’s or some sort of garbage like that. It’s definitely a positive thing to come out here and learn about it.”

First-rounders Derrick Pouliot and Joe Morrow have a front-row seat to Bonci's lecture

A little show n' tell with assorted pastas

Now this same group is learning about canned vegetables. My personal favorite = green beans

They're learning about canned veggies too!

Moving on to meats

What kind of milk do you drink? Skim, 2 percent, whole, soy or almond? So many options - ah!

Lots of food samples being given out - probably a good idea being surrounded by all those yummy-looking groceries. Going to a grocery store hungry = not a good idea, as I discovered today.

All this talk about eating right and I haven't really given you any specifics as to what foods the players are recommended. I'm going to change that right now by giving you a sample meal I pulled from the materials the prospects were given - sounds pretty doable to me!

A bowl of oatmeal (1 cup) with nuts (one-quarter cup), dried fruit (one-quarter cup) or a large banana and 8 ounces of low-fat milk
12-ounce glass of milk or 8-ounce yogurt
8-ounce glass of juice

Sandwich on a roll
5 slices of meat
2 slices of cheese
Piece of fruit
Crackers, pretzels or baked chips – 2 handfuls
12-ounce glass of milk, juice or lemonade
12-ounce glass of water
2 granola bars, or a muffin

8 ounces of lean meat, poultry or fish
2 cups of pasta, rice or potatoes
2 cups of vegetables, either cooked or salad
12-ounce glass of milk, juice or lemonade
8-ounce glass of water
Dessert of fruit, or 1 cup of lower-fat ice cream, pudding, frozen yogurt, sherbet or sorbet

Bowl of cereal (2 cups) with fruit (1 cup) and milk (8 ounces)
20 ounces of water

*The most popular dessert suggestion was actually a yogurt parfait: 1 cup fruit, 1 cup Greek yogurt, 1/4 cup nuts or granola. I know this is a favorite of health nut Brooks Orpik. It's actually quite delicious, but I'd definitely miss chocolate.

*This doesn't count what they eat before, during and after practices and games!

Defenseman Reid McNeill agreed to blog for us one day during camp, and we posted it earlier this afternoon. It's absolute gold. You have to check it out. Teaser below.

Discussing the paintball games: "I think (Philip) Samuelsson and I are enlisting in the future. We had Call of Duty maneuvers going on. He was giving me hand signals and pointing to bunkers to jump in. Samuelsson and I put together are a deadly duo. We were going pretty hard out there. I hit double digits in getting guys out."

For the whole entry, click here. It's totally worth it.

The forwards and defensemen split up today, taking the ice for separate sessions.

The forwards did a skill development practice, while the blueliners went through a skate called "Defense University" - led by head professors Todd Reirden (assistant coach, Pittsburgh) and Alain Nasreddine (assistant coach, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton). Both coaches work primarily with the defensemen on their respective teams.

Here's some pics from the day:

Nick D'Agostino listens intently

Pouliot sure looks good in the black and gold, doesn't he?

Pouliot again

Nasreddine talks with 6-foot-8 D-man Andrej Sustr of Nebraska-Omaha

Another D'Agostino shot

Goalie development coach Mike Bales talks with his pupils

A little stickhandling action by Scott Wilson

Forwards stop for a water break
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