Diets give teams health standards

Are+athletes+really+what+they+eat%3F+Photo+by+Aniqa+Rahman

Are athletes really what they eat? Photo by Aniqa Rahman

Alyssa Piecko

Are athletes really what they eat? Photo by Aniqa Rahman
Are athletes really what they eat? Photo by Aniqa Rahman
A fancy breakfast of pancakes with syrup and powdered sugar is the furthest thing from ideal for junior basketball player Jackson Dubinksi. For his first meal instead, he blends up a protein shake and sits it next to his balanced meal of cereal, oatmeal and fruit every morning.
These choices may not sound too satisfying to most, but to prepare athletes for their seasons and keep them functioning and healthy, players go to great lengths to perform their best in season and out.

“Recently I’ve started drinking protein shakes that will help me gain weight with muscle tone by drinking two a day. Once in the morning, and once after I workout in the afternoon,” Dubinski said. “The reason I have to do this is because I do work out every day and lift every other day, so to keep my muscles from tiring and eating themselves, I have to take in [more] protein than a normal person. I’m definitely trying to keep gaining weight but making sure that it’s lean muscle that I’m putting on and not pudgy fat that could affect my speed on the court.”

Although the basketball preseason workouts haven’t started yet and the competitive season doesn’t begin for another few months, Dubinksi still keeps himself in shape and conditions daily to prepare himself.

While Dubinski tries to pack on extra pounds of muscle to increase his endurance on the court by putting more protein in his diet, junior wrestler Sam Crane must watch what he eats as his season begins. Being able to control his weight and watch his fat intake is crucial to his performance and staying in his weight class.

“During wrestling I do keep a strict diet. I have to watch how many calories I am eating a day because the hardest part about dieting for wrestlers is also eating a lot less than we would during off season,” Crane said. “We try to eat foods that are light on weight so we don’t gain a ton of weight. I would say the main meal of a wrestler during season is peanut butter [and] honey sandwiches. And we stay away from sodas, juices with added sugars and unhealthy foods that are high in fat.”

With wrestling and basketball seasons kicking off next week, these athletes are working to shed their pounds fast. Weighing around 153 pounds earlier in the month, Crane said he needs to get down to 138 pounds in the next week for a pre-season tournament.

All wrestlers usually have to lose anywhere from 10 to 20 pounds at the beginning of the season, he said. Maintaining a particular weight is necessary in season so they don’t get matched with an unfairly, unequally weighted opponent from the same weight class.

A wrestler’s diet should consist primarily of carbohydrates and protein above all of the other levels in the food pyramid according to the National Collegiate Athletic Association. Carbohydrates provide the wrestlers with quick spikes of energy for short, fast-paced matches and practices while the proteins help the athletes recover and retain muscle mass.

“A wrestling match is only six minutes long, but it’s the longest six minutes of your life when you have bad conditioning,” Crane said. “That’s why we train so hard and have such good work ethic in school and in wrestling. Because we train the hard way and learn to work for everything we want [to] achieve.”

While size is an important factor in wrestling, swimmers take it one step further to focus on the specific volume and density of each teammate. Swimmers aren’t necessarily required to uphold a specific diet, junior Madeline Simon said, but they have to maintain the same body composition and size.

“We’re not required to maintain a certain weight, but weight is usually not a problem because of the exercise we’re getting,” Simon said. “It varies throughout different training cycles, though. While you’re resting for a big meet like state and not swimming as much, you want to eat less. It’s all about adjusting to maintain a consistent weight and size, whatever size that may be, so your technique and body position in the water doesn’t vary too much.”

Even though soccer players don’t have to measure and weigh in, head coach Alex Nichols stresses the importance of being physically fit and healthy to be the best players they can be. While there is a serious amount of endurance involved in soccer, the most important thing the players have to keep up is the constant movement and agility required, and that starts with proper diet and exercise, Nichols said.

“It’s not what you do on the field, it’s also what you do off the field. You have to make the right choices and you have to take care of your body,” Nichols said. “If you want to prevent injury and if you want to be successful, you have to eat right; you have to sleep right; you have to stretch right. You have to take care of yourself because it’s not just taking care of yourself, you are a part of a team. So if you don’t take care of yourself, by that same token, you aren’t taking care of the team.”

Physically preparing for a season is one of the best things an athlete can do to be successful in any sport, Dubinksi said. Keeping up a healthy diet keeps the athletes fit and functioning while the workouts push them harder every day, striving for the last match, the last win and the possible spot in the hall of fame.

“The more work you put into your [season] workouts and dieting, the better off you’re going to be during the season both physically and mentally,” Dubinksi said. “And then you start winning.”

By Alyssa Piecko