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Eating Healthy: The Natural Performance Enhancer

Nutrition is one of the most important factors in athletic performance. It provides athletes with the energy to perform their best in practice and in games. Nutrition is important in all sports, but it is especially relevant for endruance athletes who participate in sports such as crew, soccer, cross-country, and swimming, and those who require pure force, such as football linemen.

There are two types of exercise, anaerobic and aerobic. The word anaerobic means “without oxygen.” Anaerobic exercises are brief, highly intense, strength-based activities, such as sprinting or bodybuilding. The early stage of all exercises can be considered anaerobic. The word aerobic literally means “with oxygen.” It refers to the use of oxygen during the energy-generating process. Many types of exercises are considered aerobic typically those performed at moderate levels of intensity for extended periods of time so that the athlete maintains an increased heart rate. Distance running is a prime example of an aerobic exercise. This type of exercise is used to burn fats and glucose.

Daily balanced meals rich in carbohydrates and protein can significantly improve athletic performance. Coach Joe Scanio (Girls Varsity Crew) said, “an athletes diet should consist mainly of proteins and carbohydrates. Do not just eat good meals before games. Try to make healthy eating a habit.”

Drinking plenty of water and resting well are also important for athletes. Coach Doug James (Varsity Football) said, “Football is all about rest and water. Always drink your water, eat good meals and sleep. Rest is very important. For example, if you have a game on Saturday, get a good night’s sleep on Thursday night. Do not assume that sleeping late on Saturday morning will help your performance in the game.”

Coach Anne Armour (Girls Varsity Soccer) offered a slightly different perspective, “I try not to give advice about food, because if you give restrictions to certain foods, it could lead to eating disorders.” However, she suggested that athletes try to avoid fats, caffeine and sugar-containing product such as soda.

When asked about ways for the body to recover as soon as possible, Coach James Davidson (Girls Varsity Cross-Country) said, “Drinking plenty of water and eating within 45 minutes after the practices will help your body to recover more quickly.” Mr. Brian Holloway (Choate Athletics Trainer) stressed that sports nutrition is all about the athlete’s routine. He especially emphasized the importance for athletes of eating breakfast.

While most coaches agreed that drinking Gatorade and other sports drinks is not necessary, Ms. Cynthia Hill (Master’s Degree in Exercise Science) had a different opinion. She said, “The reason for cramps is usually lack of electrolytes. Even though water does help with cramps, one can say that sports drinks actually perform better compared to water. Gatorades and other sports drinks are glucose solutions with electrolytes and promote the absorption of water. However, drinking sports drinks is only necessary when an athlete is a very salty sweater or is going through a really tough practice during an extremely hot day. So I believe most of students at Choate won’t be necessarily needing too much of sports drinks.”

For athletes wanting to gain more weight, Coach Tom White (Boys Varsity Crew Team Coach) shared his knowledge about how to gain weight: “One of the best ways to gain weight that I’ve learned throughout the years is to spread out five or six smaller meals during the day rather than eating three big meals.” Above all, White stressed that, “Good nutrition is essential for sports and most of all, life at Choate. You need energy to get through all your classes and above all, the history assignment that I have given out! Nutrition is the key to success in your Choate career.”

These factors in successful performances are very simple. Details like what you eat for lunch seem insignificant, but healthy eating improves athletic performance as well as overall quality of life.


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