Hello! Today's blog post comes from Environmental Intern Jasmine Jefferies! Enjoy.
Whether you are a college athlete or not, the food you eat plays a vital role because food is the fuel that aids in maximum performance. In fact, when your food choices are not ideal, your overall performance will suffer. For competitive athletes, diet is especially important and should be a top priority. Diet is just as important as practice. As your body expends energy during a workout or practice, nutrients are lost. However, if the right foods are chosen, then you can replenish your body with the proper fuel it needs. Here are some of the best foods to optimize your performance.
Some of the best berries include blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries. They are full of antioxidants which are often depleted during physical activity. Fun fact: the darker the berry, the more phytochemicals it has (which are plant compounds found in fruits, veggies, and other foods that have been linked to a lower risk of some chronic diseases), which helps prevent oxidative stress that happens when doing strenuous activities. Another benefit to eating berries is they preserve muscle strength as you get older!
Salmon is a great fish that is dense with lean protein and omega-3 fatty acids. Often times people are low in omega-3 fatty acids, and eating salmon can increase their intake. This helps with inflammation, which is very common when doing regular physical activity. Heart disease is the number one killer in the United States, and it can affect everyone, even athletes. This fish in particular helps to naturally cleanse your arteries. While salmon is delicious on its own, just make sure to use seasoning when preparing it. Salmon is best grilled or when incorporated into burger patties or pasta.
Legumes are a great source of plant-based protein. The varieties are endless when it comes to the different types of legumes, especially beans. They pair well with just about anything and they are inexpensive (often times they run at $1 per pound or less). Beans are great because, compared to meats, they don’t have saturated fat and they have a ton of fiber, which aids in keeping you fuller for longer.
Many people know that bananas are high in potassium, but that is only one reason why they are a great staple! Eating bananas actually helps regulate fluid intake which will help protect you from muscle cramps. Electrolytes are lost when engaging in physical activity, so rather than grabbing a sugary drink (like Gatorade), try bananas for an excellent source of natural electrolytes.