In 2014, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) passed a rule that guaranteed Division I student athletes unlimited access to meals and snacks on campus in order to better meet their nutritional needs. This shifted the thinking on how nutrition can play a role in athletes’ daily routine—and allowed sports dietitians to do a better job providing athletes with quality energy sources to keep them going through practice, workouts and games.
Becci Twombley*, University of Southern California’s Sports Nutrition Director, shares three key ways she uses to help college athletes eat right that easily translate to athletes of all levels and ages. By considering nutrition science as a key part of training, athletes can become stronger and more resilient while elevating the field of play.
Use Natural Carbohydrates for Energy
I like to keep quick carbohydrate options in locker and weight rooms to help athletes top off energy stores. Honey Stinger Waffles and Chews are good options because the honey is easy to absorb and provides sustained energy without a crash. Fruits like bananas, grapes, pineapples and berries, which multitask as an energy source and an antioxidant, are also great options. By using natural carbohydrate sources like honey and fruit, we maximize the nutrient absorption and ensure that each athlete will have energy available to maintain a workload intense enough to stimulate muscle growth.
Real Food vs. Supplements
Most vitamins and minerals are better absorbed by the body in their food form rather than as supplements. That’s because all the components of food— the fiber, fat, carbohydrates and protein—interact together to maximize the uptake of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. It’s not always as simple as always choosing whole foods over processed foods since fueling on the go is neither simple nor convenient. Try looking for performance fuel, like Honey Stinger, that the body is able to quickly absorb and use for energy.
Keep It Convenient
As a sports dietitian at a college, part of my job is to make sure that students can easily access quality food and nutrition supplements. I evaluate and select products that are safe for athletes to consume and that will help enhance their performance. These are placed in a variety of spots on campus—locker rooms, practice locations, academic centers—that student athletes frequent so that they always have quality fuel options available to them. You can do the same by making sure you have convenient, healthy fueling sources readily available around the house, at the office, in the car, or gym bag. Honey Stinger Waffles and Organic Cracker Bars work great while you’re on the go!
*Becci Twombley, RD, CSSD is the Director of Sports Nutrition at the University of Southern California, consultant to the Los Angeles Angels, and a founding board member of CPSDA. Becci is also a member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, as well as the Sports and Cardiovascular Nutritionists.