Palm Beach North Sports - March 2021

6 P A L M B E A C H N O R T H SPORTS | M a r c h 2 0 2 1 HEALTH & WELLNESS There is a strategic way for athletes to eat that allows them to maximize their playing abilities. Below you will find my key points around this topic: In the world of athletics, there are several factors that contribute to the players’ needs. For example, most athletes sweat profusely throughout a game. Additionally, some sports like hockey, soccer, and lacrosse require players to think and move quickly, demonstrate a high level of agility, and endure various physical movements at very intense speeds. Believe it or not, there are strategic foods that can be eaten to fuel these exact needs for performance and recovery. Because of the intense movements in the game, hydration is of utmost importance. Before a workout (game or practice), players should be hydrated via water or a natural mix that is complimented with vitamins, electrolytes, and water or coconut water to keep their bodies hydrated and fueled. This allows players to play at a high-performance level with the ability to recover fast. A good way to see if you are hydrated is to talk to your registered dietitian professional. Sports drinks can be OK at times; however, water has always the best option. Caffeine and sugary drinks should be hard not as they deplete energy while they take effect on the body. Due to the quick movements and bursts of high-intensity intervals, athletes need to focus on their ability to recover quickly. The foods that lend themselves to aiding this are those that have the primary job of providing good calories to burn (energy). This energy can be found in protein, fat, and carbohydrates (which will make up most of your diet). When it comes to protein, an athlete must remember that they need to consume the recommended amount of protein per body pound daily via their professional registered dietitian. Proteins contain amino acids which are the foundation of the ability to recover. Because of this, athletes should incorporate lean proteins into every single meal. This can include lean meats, low-fat cottage cheese, low-fat Greek yogurt, eggs, or legumes. Fattier proteins can negate some of the great effects of the proteins themselves, so sticking to lean meats or low-fat dairy foods is vital as high- fat proteins take longer to digest. While fats can be damaging in large quantities, they are not the enemy for athletes. In fact, good fats should be incorporated. There is not a set amount of fat that a player should have unless they are looking to lose or gain weight. Good fats include nuts, seeds, avocado, olive oil, etc. As aforementioned, carbohydrates are going to be the main focus of the athlete’s meal plan. Like fats and proteins, there are types of carbohydrates that are better than others. A good rule of thumb is to go for whole grains such as brown rice over white rice, whole wheat bread vs. white bread, utilize quinoa and other whole grains. The white carbs are much harder to process and are lacking fiber as well. In addition, good carbohydrates can include dairy foods (such as low-fat milk, yogurts, and cheeses) and fruit/vegetables. When it comes to fruit and vegetables, at least a minimum of 5 servings a day is necessary to obtain the correct nutrients needed from vitamin, minerals, and fiber needed to meet your daily allotment. Carbs and protein should be the focus of pre-game or pre-practice meal and should be eaten about 3 hours beforehand. The effects of healthy carbs and proteins will last and do their jobs despite the fact that your stomach does not feel overly full after 3 hours. When recovering, go for something that is carb heavy. Athletes are constantly on the go, so a great tip to get these nutrients in is with a protein shake, protein bar, Whole wheat peanut butter & jelly sandwich, Turkey and cheese on WW bread etc. A clean protein bar or shake is one that is chemical-free, organic, and as natural as it can, so it makes for a healthy choice. For more nutritional help with recipes or tips go to Strategic Eating for Athletes By Cheryl Buckley MBA, MS, LDN, RDN, CDN