Athletes Eating on the Road

Kristen Gushrowski, Sports Writer

An athlete’s nutritional needs include a variety of fruits, vegetables, protein, and carbohydrates, and very little fat. The best way for athletes to make sure they are keeping their diet balanced is to cook and create their own meals and snacks at home. However, with games, competitions, and tournaments hours away from home on the weekend, cooking meals at home is easier said than done. Central Washington University Sports Nutritionist, Christina Thompson (www.cwu.edu), suggests some ways athletes can keep still consume a healthy diet while traveling with their teams.

Thompson’s first tip is for athletes to search the menu for foods that are grilled, broiled, or steamed. Foods prepared these ways are lower in fat than foods that are fried. Some examples are grilled chicken and grilled fish.

Thompson’s next rule of thumb is the smaller the serving size, the better. Large serving sizes, such as a large soda or large french fry, have a lot of calories and fat. Selecting a small size in these desired foods cuts out the excess fat, sugar, and salt that slow down an athlete’s body.

Next, Thompson suggests to ask for foods with little or no toppings and condiments. Remove mayo and cheese from your burger. Ask for low fat or fat free dressings for salads. Salads sound healthy, but two tablespoons of ranch can add 150 calories to that pile of greens- and it is all fat! If the meal needs a little flavor, salsa and ketchup are healthier options.

Thompson also says that extra vegetables never hurt. Ask for extra tomato and lettuce on your chicken sandwich or ask for a side of carrots instead of french fries. Vegetables fill up the stomach faster with fewer calories than a food item with lots of fat and sugar. Vegetables also provide energy to ensure peak performance at game and competition time!

Finally, Thompson does not want athletes to forget that water is essential to their health. Be sure to drink plenty of water before and after competition to stay hydrated.
It can be challenging for an athlete to eat nutritiously while on the road for competitions and games. However, following Thompson’s guidelines for eating away from home can help any athlete get the fuel the body needs.

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