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Building a Healthy Meal Plan

Each meal is a building block in your healthy eating style. Make sure to include all the food groups throughout the day. Make fruits, vegetables, grains, dairy, and protein foods part of your daily meals and snacks. Also, limit added sugars, saturated fat, and sodium. Use the MyPlate Daily Checklist and the tips below to meet your needs throughout the day.

Make half your plate veggies and fruits Vegetables and fruits are full of nutrients that support good health. Choose fruits and red, orange, and dark-green vegetables such as tomatoes, sweet potatoes, and broccoli.

Include whole grains Aim to make at least half your grains whole grains. Look for the words “100% whole grain” or “100% whole wheat” on the food label. Whole grains provide more nutrients, like fiber, than refined grains.

Don’t forget the dairy Complete your meal with a cup of fat-free or low-fat milk. You will get the same amount of calcium and other essential nutrients as whole milk but fewer calories. Don’t drink milk? Try a soy beverage (soymilk) as your drink or include low-fat yogurt in your meal or snack.

Add lean protein Choose protein foods such as lean beef, pork, chicken, or turkey, and eggs, nuts, beans, or tofu. Twice a week, make seafood the protein on your plate.

Avoid extra fat Using heavy gravies or sauces will add fat and calories to otherwise healthy choices. Try steamed broccoli with a sprinkling of low-fat parmesan cheese or a squeeze of lemon.

Get creative in the kitchen Whether you are making a sandwich, a stir-fry, or a casserole, find ways to make them healthier. Try using less meat and cheese, which can be higher in saturated fat and sodium, and adding in more veggiesthat add new flavors and textures to your meals.

Take control of your food Eat at home more often so you know exactly what you are eating. If you eat out, check and compare the nutrition information. Choose options that are lower in calories, saturated fat, and sodium.

Try new foods Keep it interesting by picking out new foods you’ve never tried before, like mango, lentils, quinoa, kale, or sardines. You may find a new favorite! Trade fun and tasty recipes with friends or find them online.

Satisfy your sweet tooth in a healthy way Indulge in a naturally sweet dessert dish—fruit! Serve a fresh fruit salad or a fruit parfait made with yogurt. For a hot dessert, bake apples and top with cinnamon.

Everything you eat and drink matters The right mix of foods in your meals and snacks can help you be healthier now and into the future. Turn small changes in how you eat into your MyPlate, MyWins.

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Strategic Eating Options for Athletes

Upon interviewing various nutritionists, registered sports dietitians, and elite athletes, I have found that there is a strategic way to eat to maximize potential for individual sports. My notes, observation, and my own professional experiences as a former elite athlete have lead me to believe in this theory. Below you will find see my conclusions regarding strategic eating for athletes:

In the world of athletics, there are several factors that contribute to the players’ needs. For example, most athletes sweat profusely throughout a game. Additionally, some sports like hockey, soccer, and lacrosse require players to think and move quickly, demonstrate a high level of agility, and endure various physical movements at very intense speeds. Believe it or not, there are strategic foods and shakes that can be eaten to fuel these exact needs for performance and recovery.

Because of the intense movements in the sport, hydration is of upmost importance. Before a workout (game or practice), players should be hydrated via water or a natural and organic powder mix that is complimented with vitamins, electrolytes and water/coconut water so they can keep their bodies hydrated and fueled. This allows players to play at a high performance levels with the ability to recover fast.

A good way to see if you are hydrated is to talk to your registered sports dietitian or registered dietitian professional.

Sports drinks can be OK too; however, in my experience as a player, water has always served me best. Caffeine and sugary drinks should be a hard no as they deplete energy while they take effect.

Due to the quick movements and bursts of high intensity intervals, athletes need to focus on their ability to recover quickly. The foods that lend themselves to aiding this are those that have the primary job of providing good calories to burn (energy). This energy can be found in protein, fat, and carbs (which will make up most of your diet).

When it comes to protein, an athlete must remember that they need to consume the recommended amount of protein per body pound daily via their professional registered dietician.

Proteins contain amino acids which are the foundation of the ability to recover. Because of this, athletes should incorporate lean proteins into every single meal. This can include lean meats, cottage cheese, eggs, or beans. Fattier proteins can negate some of the great effects of the proteins themselves, so sticking to lean is important. While fats can be damaging in large quantities, they are not the enemy for athletes. In fact, good fats should be incorporated. There is not a set amount of fat that a player should have unless they are looking to lose or gain weight. Good fats include nuts, avocado, oils, etc…

As aforementioned, carbs are going to be the focus of the athlete’s meal plan. Like fats and proteins, there are types of carbs that are better than others. A good rule of thumb is to go for grainy breads rather than white breads or brown rice over white rice. The white carbs are much harder to process. In addition, good carbs can include dairy (such as milk) and fruit/vegetables. When it comes to fruit and vegetables, around 5 servings a day is necessary to obtain the correct vitamins and minerals needed.

Carbs and protein should be the focus of a pre-game or pre-practice meal and should be eaten about 3 hours beforehand. The effects of healthy carbs and proteins will last and do their jobs despite the fact that your stomach does not feel overly full after 3 hours. When recovering, go for something that is carb-heavy.

Athletes are constantly on the go, a great tip to get these nutrients in is with a great shake! A clean shake is one that is chemical free and natural. It is a good and healthy choice. They is especially helpful for obtaining the correct amount of protein.

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Fitness and Diet in Sports

If you’re an athlete, diet and fitness regimen, and how you care for yourself are explicitly important. It may be something you tell yourself but it can also come from your coaches, trainers, dietitians, etc. Paying attention to what goes into your body is paramount to succeed in the world of sports. An athlete should follow the below steps rigorously if they are serious about success:

Get at least 8-10 hours of sleep everyday

As an athlete, you are constantly pushing your body to the limit. Rest to recover properly and build strength instead of building fatigue. You want to make the most out of your energy and need a chance to recharge.

Listen to your coach

Listen and stick to the fitness plan that your coaches give you. Different sports require a different set of bodily skills, but keeping in shape is universal. Remember what muscles you need to work (throw in some cardio) and continue to strengthen your body every day – and – leave room for recovery days.

Eliminate soda and refined sugars from your diet.

Professional athletes are special because of the care they give their body. They blow off steam once in a great while on the off-season. Alcohol and junk food will completely slow your body down and affect your body’s natural state by throwing everything off. There is no reason, as an athlete, to slow yourself down.

Eat and drink to compete

Eating clean and drinking PLENTY of water is just the first half of what you need to think about when it comes to diet. Athletes eat strategically. This can mean something different for everyone, and there are too many “athlete diets” out there to follow. Try to keep it simple and, again, strategic. Always eat breakfast. Eat complex carbohydrates on the nights before games and on game days (for lasting stored energy). Eat protein after a practice to rebuild strength.

Take care of your injuries

If something does not feel right in your body, it needs to be addressed immediately. It may be more serious than you realize. Ignoring the problem could do permanent damage. It is very important to listen to your body’s needs.