By Sheila Kealey
This excellent article is one in a series written by XC Ottawa skier Sheila Kealey, a dietary expert, who discusses nutritional advantages for athletic performance and good food choices for overall health. Athletes generally know the importance of choosing the right foods to energize for workouts, but the author emphasizes they should focus on overall diet because it will influence their risk for chronic disease like diabetes, heart disease and cancer. Daily diet choices will promote long-term health and can benefit an athlete’s immune system, weight and ultimately performance.
Ms Kealey offers many tips, detailing the nutritional pros and cons of what we usually eat on a regular basis. For instance, she recommends vegetables, fruits and legumes for their vitamins, minerals and fibre, although wants to limit sugar intake from products such as flavoured yogurt, sports drinks and gels, except when used to fuel workouts and to help muscles recover. Readers learn that beneficial nutrients are removed in refined grains and this can lead to chronic inflammation, so they should stick to unprocessed whole grains. She outlines the healthy benefits of monounsaturated fats in nuts and avocados, as well as omega-3 polyunsaturated fats in fish and flax, but warns of detrimental effects from omega-6 fats; both saturated fats from sausages or dairy, and trans-fats from processed foods. Bottom line is that good diet choices such as unprocessed vegetables, fruits, whole grains and legumes can keep an athlete healthy even when not training, and ultimately prevent diseases.
As a young athlete becoming more involved in cross-country skiing, I found this article very helpful to know what foods are healthy and what should be avoided. I think a little bit of nutrition knowledge will really help people my age think about how the food they eat impacts their health.
Kealey, Sheila. "You carefully fuel your workouts, but how does the rest of your diet stack up?" XCOttawa.ca - Sheila's Nutrition Digest Vol 20. 20 Aug 2011. Web. 4 Dec 2013. <http://www.xcottawa.ca/articles.php?id=2283>