Sweets or Sports? - Coronado Eagle & Journal | Coronado News | Coronado Island News: Islander Times News

Sweets or Sports?

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Posted: Friday, May 30, 2014 5:05 pm

“Everything in moderation” is the mantra for a normal, balanced diet that many try to follow on a daily basis. However, when it comes to the diets of dedicated athletes, that simple motto can morph into regimented eating plans, suggested calorie intake at specific times, cleanses and giving up unhealthy foods altogether. Is this type of athletic dieting worth it, and does it actually help these athletes achieve their goals?

Medline Plus of the U.S. National Library of Medicine states that, yes, “Nutrition can help enhance athletic performance.” This is obvious to many because it’s no secret that it feels lousy to exercise after eating two chocolate bars. What varies, the source says, is “the amount of each food group you will need,” depending on the type of sport, the amount of training and the time spent on the activity.

Athletes everywhere learn from each other about “go to” snacks or meals before, during and after physical activity and try keep these nutritional guidelines on file. Carbohydrates, for example, are the famous night-before meal to load up on the glycogen stored in the body that will be transferred into energy during exercise. This is why almost every CHS sports team has the famous Pasta Dinners--nights before a game, meet or match where the team comes together at a house to “carboload” so they can perform better the next day.

Just as teammates support each other, coaches do their best to support their athletes in healthy eating and can even be nutritional instructors. CHS Assistant Track Coach Kelsey Starr is in charge of the short distance team and actively assists her large number of athletes in healthy eating. “I think that what you put into your body affects everything that you do coming out of your body, so, if you want to be serious about your running, then you need to take nutrition seriously.” Starr suggests that while it is necessary to ingest more calories to replace the amount burned during exercise, figuring out what the “good calories” are is just as important.

These good calories come from carbohydrates, proteins and fresh foods instead of the “simple sugars” that athletes famously try to avoid. “I try to avoid sweets and super heavy foods,” said junior water polo player and swimmer, Cassidy Wiley. “I do this because eating sweets or junk food before games or meets doesn’t give me energy and makes me feel gross.” Wiley reiterates the fact that it is important to eat healthy things “right before games or meets” in order to retain the necessary energy.

No matter how knowledgeable or health conscious, every athlete has made a nutritional blunder and paid for it some time in their athletic career. Senior Chris Leary, a cross country and 800m track runner says, “I had fish sticks too soon before a track race. I threw up after. It hurt a lot.” Leary learned his lesson and goes on to say that he now does not eat two hours before he runs.

While some athletes follow little to no nutritional guidelines because it is not completely necessary for their sport, others are unwaveringly committed to a healthy lifestyle. Valuable cross country and track runner, Senior Rachel Steffen, changed her whole mindset on food when she began running. “I had to see food as fuel, and when running more than forty miles a week, a lot of fuel is required.” Since Steffen avoids sweets altogether during her season, she had to get used to being known as “the healthy one.” She believes in a diet based on a variety of foods and has remained committed to her diet. “I’ve gotten into the habit of reading the nutritional facts,” said Steffen, and, as for sugar cravings, “after a week or two without sweets, I found myself craving the natural sugar found in fruits and vegetables.” Steffen believes that these dietary guidelines have helped her “build muscle, sustain energy,” and ultimately improve and reach her goals.

Coronado High School is proud to have student athletes who are so dedicated to their sport and to winning for the Islander name that they take the proper measures to eat a healthy diet.

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