For athletes, nutrition is just as essential to success as physical training. The food they consume can improve their performance during the game and give them the stamina they need to practice to their full potential.
While most athletes maintain a healthy, balanced diet whether or not they are in season, some California Baptist University athletes make notable changes to their diet during the part of the year they perform.
“I try to stay away from soda and eat healthier while training,” said Tracie Clay, junior biology major and veteran CBU competition cheerleader.
Adequate amounts of food and liquids are important to provide energy to athletes during exercise. The type of sport and the amount of time spent in the activity determines the quantity of calories needed.
“Before practice, I eat at least 1 to 3 hours in advance to prevent getting stomach aches or having too full of a stomach,” Clay said. “I eat high-carb foods, but nothing greasy like pizza or hamburgers.”
While she does eat healthier to improve performance, Clay does not obsess about eating too strictly.
“I keep everything in moderation, especially when it comes to eating sweets and foods that I know won’t help my training but I still like to eat,” Clay said.
This includes allowing herself dessert when she wants it and satisfying cravings when appropriate.
Students running long distances or exerting themselves for a large period of time will require a higher caloric intake and a greater amount of nutrients found in foods containing a lot of carbohydrates and protein.
Kaitlyn Persky, sophomore kinesiology major and member of the women’s water polo team, however, tries to avoid consuming too many carbohydrates during season.
“I try to eat more protein to build more muscle, but less carbs,” Persky said. “I do two protein shakes a day to add to my daily protein that I need.”
As for off season, she said relaxes her diet but still tries to eat as healthy as possible.
“I always try to drink lots of water, but I don’t do protein shakes when I’m off season,” she said.
No matter the sport, an athlete’s body undoubtedly requires a large amount of water and fluids during competitive events.
Because the body can lose several liters of sweat in an hour, some form of liquid is essential to keep the body hydrated and maintain a steady temperature during activity.
Beginning a workout with enough water in the body is an important component in staying hydrated.
While the off-season may be a time of rest for most athletes, it does not mean a time of free-for-all eating. It is typically a phase of repairing and rejuvenating the muscles physically; therefore, caloric intake needs should be adjusted accordingly.
Ultimately, hunger should not only be an athlete’s rule for eating, but a general rule for everyone. The human body needs the proper nutrients to replenish after working out, as well as the right amount of fluids to stay hydrated. For the body to reach its full potential, it must be fueled properly.