Nutrition remains central to UNCA athletics program – The Blue Banner


Roy Inkidar

Sports editor

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Photographed by Roy Inkidar
Track and field coach Eliza Parker at the UNCA Justice Training Athletic Training Room.

Nutrition remains an important factor in the diets of student-athletes at UNC Asheville during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

As student-athletes return to a more stable competition and training schedule after a shortened 2020-2021 sports year, the need to eat the right foods and nutrition is critical. Most UNCA athletes need to balance their eating schedule for healthy eating and follow guidelines set by coaches.

UNCA athletic trainer Eliza Parker said nutrition is essential for physical and mental health whether or not you are an athlete.

“It’s general health. It’s the recovery of daily activities, it’s also heart function, digestive function, making sure you get the right proteins and macro micronutrients, that’s the whole cascade. One thing that many people ignore is eating for mental health too, consuming sugars and caffeine can change a person’s state of mind, and this is an important thing for athletes and even for everything. the world, ”Parker said.

As an athletic trainer, Parker said she helps student-athletes focus on the importance of timing when managing a well-balanced nutritional diet for an athlete.

“When you look at nutrition in sport you talk about timing on the one hand and what you eat around training and games on the other, because timing is important for the circulation of blood in the system. digestive. Obviously, you want most of this blood to pass through the active muscles, but you need to make sure you have the right level of glucose in your blood in order to get you through your prolonged activity. So we talk a lot about timing and what we eat, ”Parker said.

Parker also said that recovery plays an important role in the nutrition of student athletes. She said consuming protein an hour after exercise remains a crucial factor in fueling games and competitions.

“Protein is what is going to help us heal the muscle damage that we do. Particularly at night, the most common time for muscle recovery to occur is at night, so eating protein with your dinner is great for your body to recover the most from rest, ”Parker said.

According to Parker, energy drinks like Gatorade have certain benefits when used wisely.

“Even the simple act of putting a drink high in glucose like gatorade in your mouth, then spitting and ingesting it, will activate your central nervous system and you will get some of the sugar from your mouth while your tongue and mouth absorb some of the carbohydrates, so it can increase your glucose levels without ingesting anything, ”Parker said.

As UNCA student-athletes return to a year of regular competition, many teams strictly follow the nutritional guidelines implemented. Gaby Shenot, a second-year UNCA student on the swim and dive team, said the team was on a diet she called detox before the big championships.

“Basically, it’s that we don’t eat sweets and somehow control our sugar intake, but obviously while eating as much healthy food as possible,” Shenot said.

Shenot said nutrition plays a huge role in her performance as a swimmer, a sport that requires the right nutrients to maintain energy during high performance training and competition.

“I need a lot of fuel in the long run just because I’m doing the distance (swimming), so I need a lot of energy to keep going. Swimming is like that because you are going there constantly, and nutrition is important so that I can last all the time. Nutrition really helps, in high school I wasn’t really interested in it, but now that I’m here I’ve improved a lot just by watching what I eat, ”Shenot said.

Blake Little, a junior on the UNCA baseball team, said nutrition is a must for personal care.

“Nutrition is probably one of the most important things. For us, it is mainly about taking care of it ourselves, a kind of great personal responsibility. We don’t follow a strict diet, but we keep track of our macronutrients just to make sure we’re putting the right things into our bodies, ”Little said.

UNCA men’s basketball assistant coach Woody Taylor has said that eating the right food consistently is a crucial part of maintaining the energy levels needed to excel in basketball, which the UNCA coaching staff continually rehearse their players in preparation for the winter competitive season.

“In our program, we really try to make sure the guys understand that basketball is a sport that requires you to take care of your body. A quote Coach Morell often uses is, “The best ability is availability. What goes into that is the treatment, post-workout recovery, pre-workout stretching, but one of the most important parts of being able and able to become available is eating the good stuff and making sure you eat throughout the day, ”Taylor said. .

Taylor said the team is implementing certain expectations for basketball athletes to ensure they are consuming balanced meals for fuel. For example, male basketball players should have breakfast in accordance with team policy.

“One of the things that we do that I think is unique to us here on campus is that we have a mandatory breakfast check. What is happening is that students have the option of getting up and going to eat the first meal of the day and that is required Monday through Friday, ”Taylor said.

According to Taylor, players are also given high protein foods after their workouts to support their muscle growth.

“After they lift weights, we usually have a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and Muscle Milk available to them, just so they can get some of the calories they’ve lost back in their bodies. . The reason we use Muscle Milk is because it has a lot of protein, the same with peanut butter. The studies all indicate that protein right after lifting weights is extremely beneficial for building muscle and gaining weight, ”Taylor said.

With the fall competitive season underway and off-season teams training, UNCA student-athletes continue to follow nutritional guidelines with the assistance of coaches and coaches in preparation. physically and mentally for a more normal year of competition.

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