Quality calories help athletes count more wins

By The Beacon | November 28, 2012 9:00pm

Athletes encouraged by Athletic Department and coaches to watch what they eat under the simple diet system of staying away from unhealthy calories

Junior Cassandra Brown reaches for the healthy choice of apples rather at The Commons. Athletes are encouraged to eat fruits, vegatables, protein and drink plenty of water to uphold healthy habits. (Giovanna Solano | THE BEACON)

By Katie Dunn Staff Writer dunn16@up.edu

"If God didn't make it, don't eat it." That is the motto of the athletic nutrition team at UP. People like to picture athletes as people who constantly work out and eat everything they see, but that is not how the athletic department want the athletes to think. In a world where it is so easy to become lazy and eat all day, the athletes need to focus on knowing where the food they eat comes from and how to train hard.

Bradford Scott, director of athletic performance, is all about getting the athletes in a mindset that leads them to good nutrition.

"I try to educate them on how to eat properly over the course of the day and the season," Scott said.

Scott knows how easy it is to eat junk food, which is why he trains the athletes to think about if they want 200 calories from soda or 200 calories from a chicken breast or hearty salad. The idea is to understand where your energy is coming from.

"Where does your protein come from, where's your carbohydrates coming from, where is your energy coming from," Scott said.

It can be hard for underclassmen, especially freshman, to accept this new philosophy of eating. With so much on their plates already, the coaches don't want their younger players to count calories or be on diets. This is also why Scott meets mostly with upperclassmen that have gotten used to the approach.

Freshman track and field runner Amelia Jackson admits she has a hard time eating right all the time but is focusing on it more as the season approaches.

"I can tell when I don't eat as well," Jackson said. "I try to get meat and a salad, just something simple."

To make it simpler for the athletes to grasp, Scott has made a handout he gives to all the athletes called 'Good Nutrition in 100 Words or Less'. It says to listen to your body, drink water and eat anything that runs, swims, flies and grows from a tree or from the ground.

This type of nutritious eating is easy at a school like UP, where fresh, local food is the norm. But when teams have to travel abroad, they are sometimes left alone. Men's basketball takes control by ordering catered lunches and dinners so they know exactly what they have as options. Women's soccer takes a different approach and leaves it up to the players, who get a certain amount to spend per day on their own.

Coaches are restricted with what foods they can provide their athletes.

"With the NCAA, if we are going to give them a product like Muscle Milk, it can't have more than 30% of the calories from protein," Scott said.

The nutritious lifestyle is not a requirement by all coaches, but if the players want to perform at their best and feel their best, they have to be accountable. The system installed by Scott makes athletes eat natural food that is good for them. The difference between being a national champion or not may just depend on if someone eats a donut or fruit for breakfast.