Eating like an Athlete by Eat Schmidt

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     When you hear the word “diet” what is the first thing that comes to your mind?  You’re probably thinking weight loss, various diets, not working, “magic formula”, having to eat things that are gross, along with many other things.  Roller derby is becoming more and more of a competitive sport every day and in order to be competitive in the world of roller derby, you have to take care of your body.

     I have spent a lot of time over the years that I have been in athletics researching about what a healthy diet should look like.  When I was in high school, I was 5 ft. 7 215 lbs. and loved to swim, throw shot put, and play some soccer.  I was fairly active, but by no means was I in any sort of “athletic” shape.  My weight and horrible diet limited my athletic potential.  Once I got in college, I joined my college swim team and to my surprise, I couldn’t finish a single workout and was exhausted all the time.  After a couple weeks I decided to change what I was eating by eating healthier.  This was by no means easy.  I cut out a lot of my favorite foods like pop, candy, chips, and even my favorite desert, cheese cake.  To my amazement, I started losing weight faster, felt and slept better, and even performed better.  Since then, I have lost about 50lbs.  Now today I am not going to focus on ways to lose weight, but rather on the importance of changing your diet to the diet of an athlete.

     As an athlete, it is important to fuel your body with nutrient rich foods.  Depending on what you diet looks like now, just cutting out pop, sweets, or just limiting your salt intake can be simple things that can improve how your body functions.   Now you are probably wondering why I chose these things.  First of all, pop dehydrates a person, which for an athlete can be detrimental to being able to perform very well.  Pop and sweets also contain a plethora of sugar, aka empty calories, your body doesn’t need.  Sugars also make your metabolism spiral into peaks and valleys causing you to have spurts of high energy followed by low energy.  Consuming too much salt can also dehydrate you and also cause you to retain excess water in your body and believe me, salt hides in almost everything you eat.  Limiting or eliminating these things can help you move toward becoming a better athlete.

     Now that I have bummed you out by telling you not to eat your favorite food, I am going to give you some ideas of healthier foods to replace your beloved foods with.  As I am sure you have heard time and time again, fruits and vegetables are your friend and are good for you.  Both are excellent sources micronutrients aka “vitamins and minerals”.  Fruits and vegetables are more filling then processed foods and can help keep your body running like a well-oiled machine.   Also, athletes require large amounts of carbohydrates for energy, so for those of you that have those long practices or roller derby tournaments, getting enough carbs is important.  A great source of quality carbs are whole wheat which have not been over processed and provide you with the greatest amount of nutrients.  And lastly, WATER, drink LOTS of WATER.  Drinking enough water keeps you from becoming dehydrated, prevents muscle cramps, helps you fill full longer, and can give you more energy. To know how much water to drink, take your body weight/2 and take that number and drink that in ounces (150lbs/2 = 75 = 75 oz water).

     To some of you, eliminating your favorite foods and adding those “gross” vegetables may seem like an impossible task, but I tell you, they are well worth it. Even making the choice to change one thing can make a big difference for your body.  So take a chance and try at least one or two things that I mentioned above and see if you notice a difference in the weeks following.   More than likely you will start to feel more energetic and feel better.  And if not, I can guarantee, you will feel the negative effects if you add those unhealthy foods back into your diet.

~Eat Schmidt

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