Nutrition is an essential component of athlete performance. Oftentimes physical fitness becomes the focus for performing well, but eating well can be just as important. Filling your body with wholesome food will give you the energy to perform and the nutrients to recover. This doesn’t mean that it’s only important to eat well right before an event. Yes, you should have a protein and carbohydrate packed meal sometime before a bowling game, but you should also be eating healthy all season and year-round. Eating healthy should not just be a phase that you choose to go through. Instead, you should make it part of your lifestyle. This blog will provide healthy substitutions for not-so-healthy food items. The simplicity of opening your fridge and replacing one food item with another is a great start to making nutritional health part of your daily routine. Just like how being consistent with pre-game stretching and strength exercises will help your bowling game, keeping a balanced and healthy diet will yield improvements as well.
Whole milk yogurt –> Non-fat yogurt
- Yogurt is a derivative of milk, so the amount of fat in yogurt depends on the type of milk used. On the front of most yogurt containers (not in the nutrition section), there will be a percentage displayed. It will either say “whole milk”, “2%”, or “0%”. These represent the type of milk that was used: whole milk, low fat, and skim, respectively. Skim, or 0%, has the least amount of fat, so is generally the healthier option.
White bread –> Whole grain bread
- Even though the fluffiness of white bread is enticing, it does not have much nutritional value. This is because it is made out of refined grains. Refined grains are whole grains that have been stripped of their nutrients like fiber and zinc. Therefore, white bread is not a healthy option for anyone, but especially athletes trying to improve their performance.
- Whole grain bread is a much healthier option because its grains still contain all of their nutritional value.
- NOTE: When looking for whole grain bread at the grocery store, it is important to read the labels. Just because the bread is brown or it says “wheat bread” on the package, does NOT necessarily mean that it is whole grain. Look at the list of ingredients on the nutrition label and make sure that the #1 ingredient is a whole grain like whole wheat, whole oats, or whole rye.
“Bad” peanut butter –> “Good” peanut butter
- When looking at peanut butter nutrition labels, the shorter they are, the better they are for you. An ideal peanut butter should have just two ingredients: peanuts and a little bit of salt. However, many peanut butter companies add in a bunch of unnecessary ingredients that may make the nut butter more aesthetically pleasing, but add a TON of bad sugars and fats in the process.
- What to avoid on peanut butter nutrition labels: hydrogenated oils (corn oil, peanut oil, palm oil, etc.), added sugar, high salt concentration.
Fruit juice –> Whole fruit with water
- Fruit juice is often perceived as being a healthy beverage choice. Although many brands contain sufficient vitamins and minerals, the amount of sugar it contains offsets those benefits. Most fruit juices contain nearly as much sugar as soda, and oftentimes even more calories. This may be surprising because fruit seems likes a healthy food option. However, fruit juice compared to whole fruit is very different because important fiber that is found in whole fruit is stripped away in juice form.
- Instead of a large glass of orange juice at breakfast, have a glass of water and add an orange slice. This will DRASTICALLY decrease the amount of sugar and calories you consume.