Common Mistake #4: Inadequate consumption of fruits and vegetables

7 06 2010

Fruits and vegetables provide the vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients that help your body function optimally, fight inflammation, and ward off illness.  Athletes are under tremendous stress.  You not only endure physical stress from training and environmental conditions, but also emotional stress.  Worrying about your position on the depth chart, upcoming competitions, academics, or your job can significantly contribute to your stress level. In addition, you may have stress in your personal lives. Stress can be overwhelming, and can build up over time during the long grind of the season.

If your diet is lacking fruits and vegetables, you will be more vulnerable to stress.  This vulnerability to stress weakens your immune system, lowering your work capacity and could knock you out of training. You cannot afford to have unnecessary downtime because of a weak immune system.  By focusing on getting adequate fruits and vegetables, you can minimize down time. Being taken down for a day or two is much better than missing a week or more.

By eating a fruit or vegetable at every meal or snack, you are helping to protect your body from the effects of stress.  It is essential to get a colorful variety of fruits, vegetables, and nuts into your diet daily.  The more “colors” you eat, the more essential vitamins and minerals you are providing your body.

Red Yellow/Orange White Green Blue/Purple Brown
Cherries

Craisins

Cranberries

Raspberries

Red Bell Peppers

Red Cabbage

Strawberries

Tomatoes

Watermelon

Butternut Squash

Canola Oil

Cantaloupe

Carrots

Grapefruit

Oranges

Peaches

Pineapples

Pumpkin

Sweet Potatoes

Tangerines

Yellow Bell Peppers

Apples

Bananas

Cauliflower

Onions

Pears

White Peaches

White Potatoes

Asparagus

Avocado

Broccoli

Brussels Sprouts

Collards

Green Bell Peppers

Green Olives

Guacamole

Kale

Mustard Greens

Romaine Lettuce

Spinach

Black Olives

Blackberries

Blueberries

Plums

Prunes

Purple Grapes

Raisins

Almonds

Brazil Nuts

Cashews

Olive Oil

Peanuts

Pecans

Pumpkin Seeds

Sunflower Seeds

Walnuts

Wheat Germ

Bottom Line: Eat a fruit or vegetable at every meal or snack.  Strive to eat from every color throughout the week.

© Randy Bird, MS, RD, CSSD, CSCS and Randy Bird Sports Nutrition, 2010.





A Plan for Healthy Snacks

16 09 2010

College athletes have busy schedules.  To be properly fueled, athletes should eat every few hours.  Classes, workouts, and practices can interfere with this goal.  Because of their busy schedules, planning is necessary.  When it comes to eating healthily, I frequently use a modified quote of Benjamin Franklin:  “A failure to plan is a plan to fail.”  Athletes should strive to plan their food into their schedule.

Snacks are a vital part of an athletes food “plan”.  Snacks are meant to maintain blood glucose levels, stabilize hormones, maintain energy levels, and prevent overeating later.  What I look for in a snack are carbohydrates, protein, and occasionally some healthy fat (depending on calorie needs).  As stated in “Common Mistakes #4”, I like to see fruit or vegetables with every meal or snack.

Some good snack options are:

Whole wheat bread with peanut butter and a banana.

Chewy granola bars, string cheese, and an apple.

In a Ziploc bag, combine ¼ cup of Almonds with 2 tbsp Raisins.

Whole-wheat tortilla, 3oz of tuna with Dijon mustard and side of baby carrots.