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Food for thought, food for champs

By Hana Webber. sports staff

Photo by: Lilly Quaid

A major component of participating in any sport is maintaining proper nutrition, in order to fuel the body with sufficient energy levels. To provide for an enhanced athletic performance, athletes must consider their intake of vitamins and nutrients, as well as the timing and balance of consumption.

Carbohydrates are a major necessity for fueling moderate to high intensity exercise. An intake of fat can help for long exercise sessions at a low intensity, as well as build stamina and endurance. On the other hand, proteins are generally used to maintain and repair body tissues, and are not normally used to power muscle activity.

Most importantly, athletes must stay hydrated in order to replenish lost water. On average, the healthy athlete drinks at least 32 ounces of water per day. According to trainer Simon Kidd,  a loss of just 2 percent of fluid can degrade performance quality by 10 to 20 percent.

Typically, it is recommended for athletes to eat and drink approximately two hours before an event, and more digestible foods an hour before. There are many alternatives that can serve as replacement for pre-exercise meals. Energy and protein bars, protein shakes, fiber bars, and sports drinks (such as Gatorade) can provide sufficient nutrient levels to power a regular workout.

One sport that highly depends upon a planned nutrition intake is wrestling. In addition to intense training, wrestlers must prioritize a specific diet prior to meets. Extreme hydration is a tactic used by several wrestlers in order to meet certain weight requirements; it is common to see wrestlers carrying large water bottles on meet days. Most wrestlers feel that they have more success when wrestling at a lower weight class, but cutting weight can be difficult and dangerous. With a proper nutritional intake paired with controlled water consumption, however, many wrestlers are able to cut body weight without losing energy. By drinking water, athletes can feel fuller, raise their metabolism, and aid digestion within their body.

“One of the things I make sure to do is stay really hydrated.I try to drink about a gallon of water a day. As far as eating I eat 5 or 6 smaller meals, opposed to three big ones. I break them up throughout the day: I eat breakfast, have a snack between lunch, a snack before practice, dinner, and then a snack before I go to bed,” said Noah Hoffman, junior Leigh wrestler.

However, the significance of energy intake and consumption throughout athletics is not limited to just wrestling. As four year track runner and senior Sophia Le says, “the healthier you are, the more energy you have.”