Eat for Peak Performance

Guest blog by Shane Power, President of Watertree Health, where Lisa works in communication and business development.

At Mississippi State University, I was a member of the All-SEC Men’s basketball team. I then played professionally for Italy’s Top Division, Teramo Basket and Reggio Calabria. All of this would not have been possible without endless practice and disciplined eating habits. I learned that the foods you eat and when you eat them will affect your performance on and off the courts. And, well-balanced meals will keep you energized. I still abide by these principles today.

During nutrition month in March (and March Madness!), I’d like to remind you that mindful eating can positively affect your entire well-being. Regularly consume healthy, non-sugary fluids and foods sufficient in minerals, vitamins, “good” carbohydrates, healthy fat and lean proteins. Eating breakfast is super important because it will help you with concentration, higher levels of memory, and attention span—a winning combination for everyone, not just athletes.

Choose wisely. Whenever possible, buy fresh vegetables and fruits. If prepackaged foods and ingredients are necessary, carefully read the nutrition labels to find the healthiest options. You might be surprised to discover what is lurking in prepared foods: high fat, high sodium, high sugar, preservatives, and artificial colors.

Right-size. Rather than having a plate of fried chicken the size of your head, go with a serving of grilled chicken the size of your palm—the correct portion. Maybe order an appetizer instead of a full entrée. Don’t eat food simply because it’s in front of you. Don’t force yourself to finish your dinner, save half for tomorrow’s lunch.

Make healthy choices. Try to cook without adding salt or sugar, or substitute the latter with sweeteners such as sorghum syrup or neutral-tasting agave nectar. Include in your diet complex carbohydrates such as squash, corn, and beans because these will release glucose into your blood gradually instead of spiking your blood sugar. Avoid the temptations of a hotel minibar or airport eatery by packing a nutritious bag of nuts when you travel.

In general, the message is to eat mindfully. But don’t be so strict that you cannot sustain good eating habits. Maybe allow for fun foods 25% of the time. Share a dessert with friends! (And, shoot some hoops with them afterwards.)

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