Nutritionist suggests balance is key for collegiate athletes

Nutritionist suggests balance is key for collegiate athletes

Katie Patterson, Assistant Sports Editor

October is national “Eat Better, Eat Together,” month. For many collegiate athletes, between balancing school work and a practice schedule, it can be tough for them to practice proper nutrition.

 A good diet isn’t always a top priority for athletes who are more focused on getting through practices and academics. However, nutritionists agree on the importance of eating enough and frequently throughout the day.

Sandra Lee, assistant professor and director of family and consumer sciences, said that every athlete is different and there is no nutrition plan that is set in stone for everyone. Though athletes may vary on their needs, there are certain guidelines to follow.

“For athletes who burn a lot of calories a day, they should eat meals plus snacks,” said Lee.

Senior nutrition major and swimmer, Alyssa Desiderio, agreed that all athletes have different needs nutritionally.

“Caloric intake depends on the athlete,” said Desiderio. “It varies upon how much they are working out, the intensity, the sport and [their] gender. Athletes should also be consuming more calories than usual during their season or training.”

Athletes also should maintain a heavy focus on the intake of carbohydrates and staying properly hydrated. According to Desiderio, carbohydrates are important because athletes need to take in good sources of vitamins, minerals, and fiber to stay healthy.

“Carbohydrates are the preferred fuel for athletes,” Lee said. “The best carbohydrates are whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.”

Because athletes are constantly sweating during exercise, they also need to make up for the water loss.

Desiderio advises staying properly hydrated “before, during, and after exercise.” She suggested drinking chocolate milk, as it has “a 3:1 protein to carbohydrate ratio.”

Above all, Lee said, athletes should keep one thing in mind when implementing nutrition into their regiment: balance. Eat when hungry, and as needed, throughout the day. When eating, try to consume foods that will give you proper nutrients and balance out the food pyramid. Consuming too much of one part of the pyramid will most likely cause you to miss out on another section that is important to your diet and nutrient consumption.

“Athletes should eat a variety of food, especially what they like and enjoy,” said Lee.