Restaurant Eating Guidelines
Eating right in restaurants is as crucial as eating right at school
or home. So next time your athlete is out, tell him to forget the shake
and fries and heed restaurant eating advice from Jane Jakubczak,
coordinator of nutrition services for the University of Maryland,
Jakubczak recommends filling up with a balanced meal of carbohydrates
and lean protein. The best restaurant carbs, which serve as food for
your athlete’s muscles, include rice, bread, couscous or pasta with
marinara. Avoid cream-based sauces, like Alfredo, because they weigh
your athlete down, hindering athletic performance.
For lean protein, your athlete should go for roasted, baked or
grilled items. Jakubczak says fish is a good choice, as well as barbecue
chicken breast without the skin — a tasty alternative to grilled
chicken and much healthier than fried chicken. Add a salad with dressing
on the side so your athlete can drizzle on just enough to make it
One thing your athlete shouldn’t skimp on is water, because proper
hydration on a daily basis is essential for optimal athletic
performance. A study published in 2007 in Medicine & Science in
Sports & Exercise found that dehydration hinders shot accuracy and
slows movement for basketball players.
Finally, if your athlete must indulge in dessert, Jakubczak advises,
“the best thing to do is share with one of your teammates.”
30 Minutes After
Post-activity fuel is especially vital if your athlete is playing in a
weekend tourney or if more intense training lies ahead. “Make sure to
eat something as soon as possible, because this meal will be the
resource to muscle rebuilding and recovery,” Jakubczak explains.
She says a recovery drink is the perfect way to start refueling,
especially if your athlete has to wait in a long restaurant line. Not
only is it portable (just throw one in their gym bag), it’s an immediate
way to reload glycogen stores. Make sure your athlete drinks one within
30 minutes of activity, because that’s the optimal recovery window.
Jakubczak recommends following that up with a protein-rich meal. If
your athlete is at a fast-food joint, he or she should chow down on a
grilled chicken wrap or a lean hamburger, holding off on high-fat
toppings such as bacon and extra cheese. Though cheese is a good source
of calcium and protein, she warns it’s also high in saturated fat,
similar to fried and batter-dipped foods.
Make sure to include carbs in your athlete’s post-activity dish. If
their burger comes with fries, Jakubczak suggests substituting a baked
potato. Depending on your athlete’s caloric needs, you can add fruit
salad or a cup of chili. One-third of the meal should be carb-rich
foods, and another third should be a fruit or vegetable. “You need the
whole balance,” Jakubczak says.
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