Two years ago, I was a sophomore on the cross-country team. To say that I was active is an understatement; I was running 50 miles a week. So with all of that activity, youâ€™re probably thinking I was a healthy, fit athlete, but that was not the case. I looked like an American and I ate like an American. I wasnâ€™t fat, not at all, but I was definitely sabotaging my running efforts with my diet.
I made a change to my diet the summer before my junior year, which led to huge improvements in my race times and turned me into the athlete I am today. So, how did I do it? Here are a few tips for athletes who want to gain an edge over competitors through eating what I call The In-Season Diet.
First of all, eat what is going to serve you. When you think about inhaling a piece of cheesecake, ask yourself: is this going to help my body recover from a workout? Is this going to make me feel sluggish for the next two hours? If the answer is yes, grab something that is going to leave you satisfied and energized, like a handful of almonds or a sandwich on whole grain bread.
Next, alcohol should be a once-in-a-while indulgence. Those calories are immediately stored as fat, not burned for energy. Sometimes I hear people justify binge drinking with â€œwell, I was up walking around all night, so itâ€™s fine that I drank so much.â€ As much as I wish that were true, itâ€™s just not the way it works. If you want to see real results, you have to commit entirely to your cause. Offering to be a sober driver will not only win points with your friends, but also help you maintain a healthy, competition-ready body.
Plan meals ahead of time. This may seem obvious, but at times it can be tricky. If you walk past Nacho Hour and decide on a whim to get a huge plate of cheese-covered nachos, you are eating something you did not originally plan for. Just saying no to these spur-of-the-moment indulgences can do worlds of good for all of the solid training that you put in.
Finally, be consistent and go all-in. One of my teammates always says, â€œYou have to bet big to win big.â€ In this case I mean you have to give it 100 percent if you want to reap all the benefits of your new, healthier lifestyle. The results will not be instant – they are long-term – but trust me when I say they are worth it.
Good luck to all athletic teams this year. Letâ€™s make this one the best yet. And remember, when the season is over there will be plenty of cheesecake, alcohol and nachos waiting for you!