You might not be a professional athlete just yet, but you can start eating like one. Healthy food expert Heidi Skolnik meets weekly with the New York Giants, the 2008 and 2012 Super Bowl champs.
Her message: Good nutrition helps players play well, time after time. The Giants use her nutrition advice to fuel their performance on the field. Would you believe Justin Tuck, a defensive powerhouse, likes to eat grilled asparagus?
Years ago, even professional athletes didn't think much about what they ate. It's a very different picture today, Skolnik said. She gives food and nutrition advice to the New York Giants all year long — in training camp, during the season, and in the off-season. They follow her suggestions. Why? Because it means better performance on the field, she said.
"Players want consistency in their play," Skolnik said. "They want to play as well as they can, as long as they can, and as consistently as they can."
What does consistency mean? A good athlete knows he or she can play well. But they want to play well every time, not have big highs and lows.
"Nutrition is a key part of that strategy," Skolnik said.
Two Key Tips
What you eat — or don't eat — can affect your mood, how much energy you will have, and how much endurance you will have. Skolnik offers these two guidelines for the players, and said younger athletes can follow them too:
Know what to eat when. Always eat breakfast. Eat a light snack an hour or two before practice or a game (trail mix, apple and string cheese, or a low-fat granola bar). After a practice or game, eat another healthy snack (milk and pretzels, yogurt and fresh fruit, banana and peanut butter).
Start a pattern of healthy eating. Patterns are important if you want to succeed at sports or anything else. When you always do your best at practice, that's a good pattern. A regular pattern of studying and doing your homework will help you do your best at school. And a regular pattern of healthy meals and snacks will help you both at school and on the playing field.