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|June 12-18, 2008
• Whitewater paradise
by Andrew Wineke
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This is how athletes should eat
by Wina Sturgeon
Should you eat protein before your workout or after? Is sports nutrition important or just a load of bunk? Paul Silvestri, the head athletic trainer for the University of Utah football team, has some answers.
He says after a workout, when your body is depleted of some nutrients, it becomes super-ready to absorb new ones.
“Taking a protein carb blend (shake or drink) post-workout would be good. Take it within half an hour of your workout,” Silvestri advises.
In terms of his game, which is one of the more active extreme sports, he says, “Football takes a lot out of an athlete’s body. Nutrition is key for recovery from training and to prepare for training. Most non-elite athletes neglect nutrition, and the most neglected aspect of athletic nutrition is a well-balanced diet. Supplements are the easy way out.”
Silvestri acknowledges that for an athlete, planning a proper diet takes work and discipline, and it’s hard.
“That’s why people rely on supplements, because that’s so easy,” he says.
But like most athletic trainers, Silvestri is not a big fan of nutrition in a small plastic jar. He is aware of the many documented cases where athletes taking supplements unknowingly and unintentionally ingested a banned substance and were branded as cheaters.
“That happens all the time. I don’t feel that commercial supplements are regulated properly,” he says.
He recommends athletes in a training or competition mode eat their biggest meal of the day after their workout, adding he thinks quality protein is the biggest factor.
“Lean meats, fish, things of that nature. You need to come in nutritionally prepared. I believe the results of a proper diet show up in competition,” Silvestri says.
But he suggests not trying to create a balanced diet on your own. He says, “I would absolutely suggest that a serious athlete go to a professional nutritionist. You can try to learn it yourself, but when someone dedicates their life to nutrition, they are more qualified to tell you what your body needs.”
The wrong foods will have a definite effect on performance, especially the “easy foods,” the fast burgers and fries. Even the pre-packaged salads at some fast-food chains are not healthy. The sliced-up lettuce and other vegetables begin to lose nutrients as soon as they are cut. Though they are kept fresh-looking with water and refrigeration, those salads may have little or no nutritional value by the time you actually purchase the item.
Silvestri explains that a properly balanced diet has components of protein and carbohydrates from fruit and vegetables.
He says, “Your body needs each component.”
He is very firm when advising against the kind of crash diets that eliminate carbs or other food elements.
A serious athlete takes time to plan how to work out and train the body for a particular sport. But the results from those hard hours in the gym or on the road will be greatly diminished if that well-trained body is not given the right fuel it needs to perform at its best.
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