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Fueling Your Body for Performance

Are you getting in the proper meals to fuel your body for performance? Or, are you just eating any meal you can get your hands on during the day?

It is important for student-athletes to remember how important it is to eat proper meals, and at the proper times in order to prepare their bodies for competition. 

When thinking about fueling our bodies for athletic performance, the first and most important thing to understand is MACRONUTRIENTS.

Sounds fancy, but it actually isn’t! There are 3 macronutrients you need to remember: Carbohydrates, Proteins, and Fats.

Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are the easy one. Everybody knows carbohydrates, usually because they are trying to avoid them because of the misconception that carbohydrates make you gain excessive weight. However, for athletes, it is one of the most important macronutrients to keep your energy levels high during intense training and competition.

Some good sources of carbohydrates are,

·  Oatmeal

·  Rice/quinoa

·  Potatoes (Sweet potatoes are even better)

·  Fruits

·  Beans/lentils/chickpeas (great source of both carbohydrates and protein)

Tip: Running late in the morning? Blend 1 or 2 servings of oatmeal into your favorite smoothie to make sure you take some carbohydrates to help you sustain your energy throughout the day, or until you have time for a meal.

Related: Breakfast for Athletes on the Go: Kale, Apple, and Carrot Smoothie

Protein

Protein is another easy one to remember, especially for athletes. Protein aids muscle recovery after workouts. The widely known post-workout protein shakes have made this macronutrient recognizable to everyone, whether you are a recreational athlete trying to work out once a day, or a competitive athlete doing multiple training sessions each day.

Some good sources of protein are,

·  Chicken

·  Salmon

·  Spinach/Kale

·  Beans/lentils/chickpeas (great source for both protein and carbohydrates)

Try to get a nutritious meal within one or two hours of working out to help your body replenish all the nutrients needed to aid muscle recovery. Make sure to eat a couple servings of protein, 1 serving of carbohydrates and healthy fats, and 2 servings of veggies.

Tip: Use these protein powder containers to always carry some protein powder with you. You can mix it into a meal you get when you’re out and about, or into a bottle of water when you do not have time to get a meal in between classes or practice sessions.

Related: Dorm-Friendly Protein Oatmeal

Fats

The last macronutrient, and probably the one that is forgotten the most is FATS. I am not talking about the French fries and burger kind of fats, but healthy fats.

Some healthy fat sources are,

·  Olive Oil

·  Avocado

·  Nuts and nut butter

Tip: Have a small bag of mixed nuts with you all the time for snack emergencies to avoid getting unhealthy snacks like chips or chocolate.

Related: Athlete-Approved Recipe: Pumpkin Pie Protein Bar

Fruits and Veggies

Missing something? Of course we are! When talking about nutritious meals, you can never count vegetables and fruits out. Try to incorporate 1 or 2 servings of vegetables per meal, and 2 or 3 servings of fruit per day.

Tip: Buy a bag of spinach or arugula and throw a handful on every meal to make sure you are getting the nutrients only vegetable sources can provide.

If you make an effort to incorporate some of these habits into your day to day life, they will become a part of your routine.

Bonus Tip: Start with one macronutrient, protein for example, for 10 or 15 days, make sure you are getting 1 or 2 servings of protein per meal. Once you accomplish that, move to the next macronutrient, and then the next one. In no time, you will be your own nutrition expert.

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