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Diets for College Athletes

by
author image Beth Rifkin
Based in San Francisco, Beth Rifkin has been writing health- and fitness-related articles since 2005. Her bylines include "Tennis Life," "Ms. Fitness," "Triathlon Magazine," "Inside Tennis," "American Fitness" and others. She holds a Bachelor of Business Administration from Temple University.
Diets for College Athletes
Close up of a runner on the track field Photo Credit ipopba/iStock/Getty Images

Overview

For college athletes, eating well has a direct correlation to performing better. However most college athletes focus more on training than properly fueling their bodies. Athleticbusiness.com reports that according to a study published by The United States Sports Academy, the majority of college athletes surveyed did not have proper knowledge on the benefits of eating fruits and vegetables, nor the dangers associated with eating foods that contain saturated fats. Athleticbusiness.com says for college athletes, seeking nutritional advice will help to avoid declining performance, chronic fatigue and prolonged illness.

Carbohydrates

The college athlete has different nutritional needs than most others, and as such, high carbohydrate diets are recommended, according to Colorado State University. Carbohydrates help with energy and oxygen efficiency, which can be two of the top deciding factors when it comes to performance in most endurance sports, such as soccer players, long distance runners and cyclists. During the training season at least half of an athlete’s diet should come from high-quality, complex carbohydrates, with that portion increasing to a pre-competition amount of 70 percent. Good sources of carbs for athletes are pasta, cereals, whole-grain breads, brown rice, fruits and vegetables.

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Protein and Fat

Along with carbohydrates, both protein and fat are also important for the college athlete. Colorado State University reports that athletes derive about half of their energy from fats in sporting events lasting more than an hour. It is better to stick with healthier poly and monounsaturated fats, like olive oil and almonds, than unhealthy trans and saturated fats, which can lead to heart disease.

Protein also provides fuel for college athletes. Colorado State University says the amount of protein that an athlete needs depends upon their particular body weight and level of activity. Athletes should vary their diet to get a variety of proteins, and lean proteins like chicken, turkey, fish and egg-whites are better choices than those that contain high amounts of saturated fats.

Hydration

Though it is not usually thought of as a nutrient, water is one of the most important substances an athlete can put in their body. Colorado State University reports that athletes should hydrate before any sporting event and stay hydrated throughout. They say that colder drinks are better than room temperature for faster absorption.

Nutrients

If your eating a sufficient diet of complex carbohydrates, fat and protein, then most college athletes will get the correct amount of vitamins and minerals that they need, according to Colorado State University. Of particular interest to athletes are the B vitamins, which help with energy and vitamin C to aid in recovery. Important minerals for athletes are potassium, magnesium, iron and calcium. These minerals play a part in performance and they are also lost through the body by sweating. Athletes can easily replenish these vitamins and minerals through natural foods, such as green vegetables, potatoes, avocados, oranges and bananas.

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References

Demand Media