Image by: Lebensmittelfotos
By Robert Spencer
A great way for us to stay in shape (or get in better shape) is to play a sport. There are leagues for nearly all sports (even those “we’re not quite sure these are actually sports” like bowling and billiards) in each county across the states. If not, you can always start your own league. Playing the sport will keep you active and it will also motivate you to stay in shape with practices and encouragement from your team.
However, when we get home after practice, there is always the tendency of overeating or eating the wrong thing. If you’ve eaten the wrong thing before practice, you can feel sluggish or even sick to your stomach (that’s never a pretty picture when you’re out on the pitcher’s mound). What kinds of food should athletes stay away from? Let’s take a look at the basics.
#1) Diet Soda
Soda in general is bad but because this has the word “diet” attached to it, everyone thinks that it’s better for you. In truth it’s not. Diet sodas are filled with preservatives, the carbonation can make you feel bloated and sluggish when you’re out running laps, the aspartame is just as bad as refined sugar, etc.
Not only that, but sodas are filled with empty calories. Even diet sodas that have no calories are still taking up residence in your stomach in place of foods and drinks with nutrients that will help you perform.
#2) White Bread
If you want bread, go for the whole grain stuff. White bread is made by stripping grains of B vitamins, fiber, and wheat germ. What you’re left with is a fluffy loaf of air that will do nothing more than curb your hunger and spike your insulin level.
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Before you boycott this advice, hear me out. Granola can be very healthy for you. It’s filled with fiber and nutrients. However, most granola comes packed with refined sugar to make it more tasty. Not only that but it has a surprising amount of calories in it (and who only eats one serving of granola anyway). So much calories, in fact, that it almost seems unnecessary. If you can keep yourself to one serving of granola which isn’t packed with excess sugar and fat, then go for it.
#4) Rice Cakes
Rice cakes come with a stigma: healthy and taste like cardboard. Well, that’s half right. They taste like cardboard because they don’t have anything in them (even nutrients). You might as well eat Styrofoam. They’re “healthy” because they hardly have any calories. Which is fine if you’re wanting to stuff yourself full without putting on any weight. However, athletes need a healthy amount of calories to burn while they’re out on the field.
#5) Sugary Cereals
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Putting too much sugar in your body early in the morning causes a spike in your insulin which triggers your body to store more fat. Sure, you’ll be out burning calories when you’re out on the field or in the gym (which is more than an average guy) but that’s not how you should get the extra calories. Refined sugar is horrible for your body and there is really no nutritional value in green marshmallows. Sorry.
#6) So What Should I Eat?
Pack your meals with protein. It helps your body repair and strengthen muscle tissue and will help you feel full. For breakfast, supplement your regular breakfast with an egg. For lunch and dinner, try some fish or lean meats. Turkey and chicken are both great sources of protein. After you’re done with a workout, sporting event, or practice drink some milk. That should help build that muscle back up.
Water is your friend. Chilled water will help keep you hydrated and will help cool you down during and after a workout or a game. Sports drinks can help replace electrolytes but they are also packed with salt. Cut sports drinks with water to get the best from both worlds.
Avocados, olives, nuts, and fatty fish are great for adding healthy fat to your diet. During sporting events, games, practices, and workouts, try to avoid foods which are heavy with fats because they will make you feel sluggish and may upset your stomach.
Plan a pre-workout snack to help boost your metabolism during your workout and to help give you energy. Fresh fruit, nuts, whole grain crackers and cheese, or a peanut butter sandwich are great options.
Eat balanced meals. Don’t skip breakfast. Breakfast helps boost your metabolism (also helps your body stop from storing extra fat), helps keep your ideal weight, and helps improve your concentration and energy level.