Staying Active Through Nutrition

Image shows vegetables and a bottle of water. Image credit: Vitalii Pavlyshynets on Unsplash; Courtesy of Creative Commons

By Contributing Writer Miyo LaClair (’27)

Fueling your body with enough food and water is essential to having optimal performance as an athlete. Additionally, nutrition and hydration are key to having a proper recovery. Everybody has different needs, depending on what sport you play and your genetics. It is important to recognize your body’s needs and find what works best for you. Athletes burn through fuel very quickly, meaning that eating and hydrating is especially vital. 

In order for athletes to play at their highest level, an efficient amount of fuel is needed. Having enough fuel in your body will increase your energy levels and help you feel your best during competition. Nithya Suryadevara, a freshman at J-DHS said, “So that you have like energy to like play your best and be able to go full out during games without worrying about not feeling well.” Along with an increase in energy levels, those levels stay more consistent when you fuel correctly. Freshman Theryan Wales mentioned, “So you can feel good in practice and perform well.” Not eating enough causes athletes to become fatigued more quickly and doesn’t allow them to play to their full potential. When your body isn’t consuming enough energy, your muscles may break down instead of build up. Vulnerability to illness or injury will increase as well. Eating enough food will help fight these battles, but especially eating healthy food. “If you eat like healthy food like you’ll feel better,” Suryadavara stated. Recalling her experiences, Nithya felt better and more energized overall after eating healthier food options rather than junk food. Freshman Liliana Santoro shared, “Yeah if you eat like donuts your stomach’s going to hurt, you’ll cramp up.” As Santoro mentioned, donuts won’t help you feel your best during play. Junk food is digested slowly and may make athletes feel slower than usual. Consuming enough food, especially healthier options, will maximize athletic performance. 

Eating and hydrating properly are equally important and both improve your athletic performance tremendously. It allows you to run faster, push yourself harder, and have quicker movements all while having stable energy levels. “Drinking as much water as eating healthy is the same level…especially when you’re playing, staying hydrated is very important,” Senior Cam Moynihan said. When athletes play in a game or practice, their bodies use up the water and food they put into their bodies. Your body needs to be continually fueled, so you always have a source of energy. That is why it’s so important to replenish your body’s supply of these needs. “There’s so much water inside of your body and all of your muscles and tissues and organs that without that hydration, then those muscles and tissues and organs can’t function and that’s what supports all movement,” Coach Rowles communicated. Both hydration and nutrition allow your body to operate and move effectively. 

After activity, athletes have a recovery process. This may include getting extra sleep, stretching, taking electrolytes and protein after a workout, and not participating in more strenuous exercise. “I think eating more protein…taking electrolytes helps, I think, that’s what I do,” Freshman Taylor Keehfus shared. Many athletes do the same things as Keehfus to make their recovery process run smoothly. Like Taylor, Coach Rowles mentioned taking protein as a step in recovery. “Taking protein, pretty close to when you finish a workout is helpful for preparing and recovering more quickly, and then the rest, sleep, and relaxation cycle allows the body to repair those little micro tears in the muscles, that happen when you workout,” Coach Rowles stated. Resting your body after exercise is pivotal for your body to repair itself and get ready for your next activity. Nithya Suryadvara and Liliana Santora mentioned stretching, rest, and healthy eating as parts of their recovery plan. Having a set recovery routine will help contribute to superb performance. 

Taking the time to fuel your body with plenty of nutrients before play is extremely important. A well balanced diet that includes a variety of macronutrients and micronutrients is crucial to provide energy for activity. Each athlete has different needs based on what sport they take part in. It’s key to notice your individual needs and take action towards meeting them. There are many ways to take care of yourself that will increase performance and speed up recovery. 

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