Personal trainers and coaches will be excited to read about Minnesota athletes taking their game to the next level through nutrition! The Star Tribune recently published an article detailing the importance of nutrition in terms of peak performance and the greatest part about the article is that the kids are taking an active role in the process.
When reading this article, I was reminded of Paul Stitt and his work with an alternative high school in Wisconsin. The school had a full-time police officer on account of student behavior. Stitt told administrators to change their food. Soda machines were removed and replaced with water fountains. Processed foods and sugary desserts were left off the menu at lunch and replaced with nutrient-dense food selections.
Can you guess what happened? Concentration improved, grades went up and administrators were able to let go of the full-time officer because of the dramatic improvement in behavior. Interestingly enough, they allowed students to drink as much soda as they wanted one day a month. The students felt so sick, they never wanted to drink it again.
The lesson? Food affects us. Not only athletically, but mentally and emotinally, too. It is great to see high school kids reaching out to personal trainers and other health fitness specialists to get information on how to properly fuel themselves for competition. There is a great deal of misinformation out there and plenty of diet books that exploit insecurities. These athletes understand that they need to fuel themselves specifically for their personal goals in their individual sport. You don’t feed a cross country runner the same way you feed a quarterback.
This recalls a wonderful article by John Bradley in Outside Magazine in which he tried six diets over the course of a year and documents his response to each. He is an athlete, so he also takes into account how his workouts felt during the different diet plans.
What did he learn? That the diet tailored to his DNA was incredibly successful. If I am from Ireland and you are from Costa Rica, do you think that we should be eating the same things? Now, DNA nutrition is highly specialized, but if your goal is the Olympics, optimally fueling your body is probably on your to-do list. It may even be something these high school athletes choose to pursue. The good news is, they are already ahead of the game and creating healthy patterns and habits. My guess is that it will also have a positive impact on their academic performance, too.
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