This is the first installment in a series regarding nutrition and the extremely significant part it plays in your quest to achieve peak performance.  I’ve attempted to simplify this topic in order to help you understand the importance of making smart food choices.

As an Athletic Trainer, football is one of my favorite sports to be involved with because it is one of the most dynamic.  The field is scattered with numerous positions with specific goals, but they all work in harmony for the “ultimate goal.”  If the athletes don’t possess the proper knowledge of formations and routes, then optimal performance and results suffer.  This same concept can be applied to the human body, which consists of specific systems (positions) working together to sustain life (ultimate goal).

When focusing on the physiological functioning of the body, if you’re not providing it with the proper foods and fluids, your personal performance will suffer.  I’m hoping that you will utilize the following material in order to feel and see the benefits of delivering your body with the essential ingredients to produce the results you desire.  As a rule, proper diets for athletes allow for longer and more challenging training sessions, delay fatigue, speed recovery, prevent injury or illness, and help athletes attain and maintain optimal body weight and lean body mass (Dunford, 2007).

Another stressful aspect to healthy eating for a student-athlete is the timing.  For example, think of your metabolism (body’s energy source) as a fire and the foods/fluids (calories) are the wood.  You don’t want to throw all the wood in a pile and light it, for it will burn intensely and extinguish rapidly.  If you continuously add wood to the fire throughout the day, you will have a more consistent burn which is utilized more efficiently.  Remember, don’t be afraid of calories, but be smart about your food choices.  Calorie needs vary greatly from person to person due to factors such as, age, gender, body composition, metabolic rate, tissue growth, and intensity & duration of exercise.  As an athlete, meeting and understanding your energy needs should be your top priority.

Next time we’ll discuss the best ways to provide your body with the calories it needs.  Link to part two of this article. 

Liana Groel-MFM Athletic Trainer

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