Many athletes also express concern about getting the recommended 2-4 servings of fruits every day, as well as 3-5 servings of vegetables. As one runner remarked “I’m lucky if I eat that much in a week..” Although the amount sounds overwhelming, the portions need to be explained: One small 6 oz glass of juice counts for one serving; thirsty athletes commonly drink 12 ounces per swig! The big banana grabbed on the run counts for another two servings. A trip to the salad bar can pack in three to five servings if the bowlful of lettuce is well doused with carrots, tomatoes, peppers and other colorful veggies. An athletesize serving of broccoli (two stalks; two cups) counts for another four servings; the cup of tomato sauce on spaghetti another two. By making the effort to consume one or two generous portions of fruits and vegetables per day, you’ll get the recommended three to five servings. You will also invest in good health by boosting your intake of vitamin C (to help with healing), beta carotene (to protect against cancer), fiber (to aid with regular bowel movements) and numerous other vitamins and minerals. Fruits and vegetables are truly Mother Nature’s vitamin pills.
When it comes to consuming the recommended two to three servings of calcium-rich dairy foods, the women most likely to need calcium are the ones most likely to shun it, thinking “I don’t like to spend my calories drinking milk.” They forget that dairy foods offer more than just calories; they are a convenient source of calcium (for bones) and protein (for muscles). Within only 300 calories, weight conscious women can easily enjoy three calciumrich servings per day: 1) 8 oz of milk on breakfast; 2) a halfpint of skim milk with lunch; 3) a yogurt for a snack.
Regarding the protein group, some athletes feel cheated by the recommendation: 2-3 small servings totals only 4-6 ounces per day, the amount in one tuna sub or a dinnersize (6ounce) piece of fish. Vegetarian athletes, however, must be sure to eat enough from this group for adequate protein and amino acids to build and protect their muscles. A balanced diet includes a protein rich food at two out of three meals per day. This might be two tablespoons (one serving) of peanutbutter on a bagel, one cup (two servings) of chili beans, and/or a big bowl of lentil soup. (Note: this protein is in addition to the protein provided by the dairy foods.
The tip of the Pyramid (fats, oils and sweets) can easily topple some athletes’ diets. If this sounds familiar, you can correct the imbalance by eating more foods from the body of the Pyramid before you get too hungry. (When athletes get too hungry, they tend to choose “junk”.) By eating bigger meals that prevent hunger, you will nourish yourself with wholesome foods. You can still leave space for a small treat, if desired. Sugars and fats, after all, are an acknowledged part of an overall balanced diet. In moderation, they can nourish us with taste, pleasure and a liveable food plan.
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Tags: athletes, minerals, vitamin C