When talking to coaches and players about what it takes to win, most will say the same canned answers: heart, teamwork, positive attitudes and playing clean. What they don’t talk about often, however, is what it takes to win at the dinner table.
You are what you eat, and in all level of athletics that phrase is even more important. The level of fitness that players on a team have can either help or hurt a team’s performance.
This past summer, the World Cup in Brazil took over the news feeds and televisions of millions worldwide. Of the teams participating, the U.S. Men’s National team was considered one of the underdogs. Yet they overcame the most difficult group in the beginning stages and put forth a great showing in the elimination rounds.
Their secret? The head coach for the team had hired a professional sports nutritionist to overhaul the entire meal and dietary plan for the team. Each player was given a designated number of calories to eat each day, their water intake and outputs were strictly measured, and every month each player was required to undergo a strict fitness test. If they did not pass the test, they did not make the team.
At Weber State this ideal is well-accepted by many of the sports teams. One example is the men’s soccer club. Since they began preparing in August, their meals and workouts have been structured and designed to provide both the adequate nutrition to help them perform at their best, and move faster and last longer than the majority of the teams they go against.
The workouts even extend into practice. A regular drill that the team undergoes requires them to play a scrimmage against themselves. The winner stays on the field and the loser is sent to an adjacent field to run a mixture of sprints and lunges, designed to help build endurance and help develop speed.
The results of their program lead them to play at the peak of their abilities. In their home-opening weekend, they went 3-0 against all opponents, including a 7-1 domination of Salt Lake Community College.
Dr. Dave Tensmeyer, a physician who has been on staff with the athletic department for 32 years, has taken note of how the athletes at the WSU are playing with the nutrition that they receive on and off the court.
“As I have traveled with the football and basketball teams, I have participated in many pregame meals,” said Dr. Tensmeyer, “There is always an abundance of food, but each meal is balanced and designed to give the most proper nutrition possible for the athletes. From a selection of vegetables to balanced carbs and proteins, the team is eating right.”
With players that have weights that range from a 150-pound cornerback to an over 300-pound offensive lineman, it takes a lot of food and a lot of people working to make sure that each athlete is getting the proper nutrition.
“Its amazing to see these big, 300-pound linemen eating as much as they do and yet be physically in better shape than the normal person,” said Dr. Tensmeyer. “When these athletes are working as hard as they do, they earn the right to eat like they do.”
In the case of injury and recovery, nutrition becomes an even bigger factor.
“When you are injured, proper nutrition is crucial in the healing process,” said Dr. Tensmeyer, “If your body can’t replenish key nutrients it needs, it will not be able to heal properly.”
In the news and on TV, we see professional athletes retiring and then putting on more weight than necessary. The current season of the reality show “The Biggest Loser” is dedicated to professional athletes who have put on too much weight. As a sports program, one of the hopes that WSU has is that the young athletes leave with the skills to be able to stay healthy once their career is over.
“It’s tough seeing these players leave the game behind and gain weight because their life isn’t at the activity level it was before,” said Dr. Tensmeyer, “Our hope is that they build habits that will last them for a healthy lifetime.”
In sports, you are what you eat. If you want to be the best, simply you have to eat and train like the best. Then the heart and soul can take you the rest of the way.
Charles can be found @cbowkstar_91 or cheering at any Wildcat sporting event