Your Eating Plan When Taking the Summer Off Athletics

Taking the summer off sports is not necessarily a negative. Being year-round competitive can take its toll on you mentally and physically. When you can regain balance in your life, you will be more motivated and driven to compete when the season begins again. Make sure you are remaining active and aren't glued to the couch this summer! Do actives that get you out of the house, and are different from your competitive sport. Most important, you must learn how to adopt a way of life that is positive around the food you eat. You may be on break from the intensive sport realm, but it doesn't mean you should take a break from eating healthy. Whether you want to stay on a healthy track, or need a strategy for learning how to eat healthy for sport and life, these tips are for you!

Plan ahead to make meals simple at home

Start creating a running list of meals you'd like to try. You need the staples: yellow onion, garlic, bell pepper, tomatoes, canned tomatoes (low sodium and ideally in a BPA free can), uncooked brown rice, uncooked quinoa, herbs, salt and pepper, and lean meats or meat substitutes. When you always have these items in your grocery cart, you can start just about any recipe. From this jumping off point, you have the availability to add in the extras needed for meals you'd like to try. I suggest meals that make it easy to make larger amounts, so you can practice meal prepping. 

Favorite meal prep dinners:

stuffed bell peppers

pan seared chicken, roasted vegetables, and quinoa

turkey chili or turkey meatballs

butternut squash curry, roasted vegetables, and brown rice 

Stock up on healthy snacks

Lets face it, you're going to eat snacks whether you like to admit it or not. You might as well have healthy ones ready at hand! Keep lots of fruit like apples, bananas, berries, and tangerines. Peanut butter with low sodium, low sugar, and high in protein can be added to just about any snack to keep you fuller longer. Hummus and carrots, nuts (my favorite are cashews!), trail mix, dried fruit, and meal replacement bars are really easy to take to go. Make sure every time you leave the house you always have a snack with you. This will help curb the afternoon energy crash, and prevent the creeping thoughts junk food. Ice cream, candy, fries, and salty snacks that you can buy when you're out running errands, shopping, or with friends are too convenient and too temping. This doesn't mean you can't treat yourself every once in a while! But consistency is key, and you want to be able to choose the times you splurge, rather than be forced to buy treats because you are starving!

Favorite snacks to go:

Clif Bars

cashews and dates

peanut butter, honey, and banana sandwich on organic whole wheat bread high in protein and low in sugar

apples and tangerines

Know what to order when going out

When I go out to eat with friends, family, or for work, I always look at the menu ahead of time. Not only does this get me excited about the meal because I'm a major foodie, but it gives me a chance to see if I need to customize a dish to fit my needs. For many, going out to eat means splurging. However in today's society, we eat out much more often than we ever did in the past. This means going out to eat cannot be seen as a splurge each time, and summer could mean even more opportunities for eating out. Especially if you're taking the summer off of athletics, you need to have a game plan. I stick to plate modeling, and look for dishes that consist of a lean protein, healthy carbohydrate, and have plenty of vegetables. Where do I find this on a restaurant menu? In the rice bowls or in the lean protein offerings. I will typically ask if they can add roasted or grilled vegetables to each dish. While training is low or non-existent, it is important that at almost half of your calories at lunch and dinner are coming from vegetables. 

Favorite meals choices going out:

brown rice bowls with plenty of vegetables

curries with vegetables, lean meat, and rice

turkey and avacado sandwiches, add extra vegetables (splurge with fries or potato chips)

Realistic summer meal breakdown


oatmeal or plain greek yogurt with berries and honey or organic maple syrup 

organic whole wheat bread high in protein and low in sugar with peanut butter

Out to eat lunch:

Roasted brussel sprouts appetizer (shared with family or friends)

1/2 chicken salad sandwich and tomato soup 

Afternoon snack:

apple and peanut butter 


Grilled chicken, roasted asparagus, and mashed sweet potatoes with salt and peper




How Much Water Should You Be Drinking?

How many of you have been coached to get through a wrestling practice with minimum or no water breaks? 🙋 My hand is raised. The old-school mentality on hydration has certainly been challenged more recently, especially in the wrestling world. The notion that you are a tougher athlete when you don't take water breaks is thankfully on its way out. Gone are the days where drinking water is seen as a weakness. In a sport where every little inch counts, it's been proven that proper hydration leads to better performance physically and mentally. So how we make sure we are drinking enough water?

When you only drink enough to quench your thirst throughout the day, you may not be adequately hydrated. Thirst is not the best indicator of how much fluids you have already lost. How do you lose fluids? Through sweat and through breathing. Taking this into consideration, you should be conscious about your fluid intake throughout an entire day and not only at practice. You won't be hydrated because you drank water while you were sweating at practice. Here are the best tips for working on your hydration.

1. Have a water bottle

Carry a re-fillable water bottle with you that makes it easy to consume liquids. I have stuck to water bottles with a straw, as it motivates me to drink more water due to the convenience. You should aim to drink around 90 ounces a day. As you increase your work-load in the practice room, up your intake accordingly. Adding electrolytes like nuun hydration or other hydration methods can be helpful when you need extra support. Look for drink mixes that have potassium and sodium, and contain almost no ingredients you cannot pronounce. Drink almost a full water bottle (16-20 ounces) two hours before practice, and the same amount after practice. 

2. Weigh yourself

Check your weight before and after practice to monitor how much fluids you have lost. For every pound lost, drink 3 cups of fluid in order to rehydrate. After consistently doing this for a week, you should have a good understanding of how much weight you typically loose during a practice and how much fluids need to be replaced.

3. Take sips

During practice is not time to take big gulps. Feeling full and bloated is not the goal of becoming hydrated, nor should it be the goal to replace your fluids the moment you sweat it out. You should be sipping throughout practice so that you are not uncomfortable. Keep your bottle close by the wrestling mat or workout room so you can grab it quickly at break times. This is something you should also apply during your competition day as well as around weigh-ins. Having a re-hydration schedule like this one, can help ensure you don't fall off track.


4. Check on color

The easiest way to know if you are getting enough fluids is by checking the color of your urine. By using the hydration chart from Team USA, you can judge where your hydration levels are throughout the day. Make sure you catch the early signs of dehydration like pulse rate, dizziness, headaches, nausea, lack of sweating, fatigue, and cramping. If you are noticing any of these symptoms early on, immediately drink two liters of fluid to alleviate the possibilities of dehydration worsening. 

Meal Planning Simplified

Food is typically a contentious topic in wrestling. There's the team that believes you should wrestle at your natural weight, and the other team which believes that cutting weight is more advantageous. However, cutting extreme amounts of weight will not provide an athlete's sustainability for a match or for a career. 

Nutrition for wrestlers is the key to success that takes your game to a new level. In previous posts, we've discussed strategies around eating at home, at competition, the mentality around why we eat like we do, and a lot on the importance of hydration. We have inched closer and closer to breaking down what we should eat at meal times, and this concept is called plate models. 

Three Versions of Plate Modeling

First, let's learn about the three versions of the plate model. The pictures below are the same images we have used for years at the Olympic Training Center. It's what the Team USA dietitians use to educate elite athletes to help clarify the best choices based on their training phase. Just because you are an elite athlete, it doesn't mean you automatically understand the best way to fuel. This takes practice! If you notice in each picture the choices repeat, but the portions of each food group changes. 

The key to success is consistency. Whether you're at home, a friend's house, or a buffet, you need to try your best to follow these models and maintain a balanced diet.

1) Easy training/weight management 

click to enlarge

click to enlarge

When you have a light day or an off day, the level of energy you are expelling is much less. The easy training plate is divided into 3 sections. 1/4 of the plate is devoted to protein, another 1/4 to whole grains (i.e. carbs), and 1/2 of the plate are fruits and vegetables. On the blog with Othella Lucas, she discussed the importance of eating a variety of color. Here is your chance! If you typically go the salad direction for you vegetable choice, notice dressings are included in the healthy fats area. You should know what is in your dressing! Try making your own so you can control what it's made from (store bought dressings have extra ingredients like sugar and a lot of preservatives!). Olive oil, vinegars, mustards, lemon, and honey are some of the ingredients you can combine to make your own salad dressing.

Notice the dotted line for weight management. If you are doing light training or taking time off but need to maintain your healthy weight, decrease grains by 1/4 and increase protein by the same amount. Many of you may be thinking, shouldn't i exclude carbohydrates entirely? My question to you is, you're still breathing right? You have a certain amount of calories that you expel every day called your resting metabolic rate. You can think of it as the calories you will burn if you laid on the coach all day and just breathed. But lets not do that. The more weight training you have done, the higher your muscle tone and the higher your resting metabolic rate will be. This is why you need carbohydrates! Your body is still operating, and the muscle you already have needs energy through food to sustain it. 

2) Moderate training 


This kind of training consists of around 2 workouts a day, with one workout being technically focused and the other endurance. This plate model will be your base line from whether you need to adjust up or down based on work load. Compared to a light training day, grains have increased and should be consumed in equal amounts to your vegetables. 

Protein intake during moderate training has remained the same. This does not include the need to add a recovery option with protein 30-60 minutes after training to help support muscle recovery. A peanut butter sandwich, chocolate milk, or cereal with milk or yogurt are great options post-workout. Re-fueling around workouts is a great time for your body to absorb the nutrients it needs, as well as fluids with a rehydration component. 

When foods are rich in fiber (i.e. fruits, vegetables, and carbs) and you consume whole grain carbohydrates (these take longer to digest and help you remain fuller, longer), you are doing your part to help maintain a healthy body weight and prevent insulin spikes. When you eat carbohydrates which contain more sugars and less grains, your blood glucose is spiked and you become hungry again, faster. This means you have to keep eating more "white" carbohydrates in order to remain full. This is a lesson in reading labels and eating proper amounts of fruits and veggies. Focus on consuming around 25 grams of fiber throughout the day. 

Even though these plate models don't discuss it, be sure that you are waking up and eating a balanced breakfast. You need to replace what you lost during an overnight fast by replenishing your blood sugar, or glucose levels, as well as glycogen (carbohydrates) and fluids. Eating breakfast sets up your day with more energy, and will decrease that extreme hunger pains you get later in the day which cause a lot of snacking. Options for breakfast include: vegetable omelete with whole grain toast, waffles with peanut butter and fruit smoothie, peanut butter bagel and fruit smoothie, oatmeal with dried fruit/nuts, one egg with two pieces whole grain toast and fruit. 

3) Hard training/competition day


When the workload has increased, your food choices need to reflect that change. Training should have 2 relatively hard workouts, or competition. During competition (and after proper weight management), you require extra fuel from carbohydrates. This should be reflected in food choices during the event, and the day after the event. Proper rehydration during hard training and competition is key, especially for wrestlers. See the rehydration schedule for more on hydration. Keep things as close to the original whole food as possible, and keep things simple. Here are a few more tips when working on your food choices throughout any of these models:

When you consume saturated and trans fats, these foods can increase inflammation and decrease recovery. This means staying away from highly processed foods. The more the protein or fat has been processed or fried, the less it provides the recovery your body needs. Lean proteins, fish, avocados, nuts, seeds and olives are great alternatives when temped to go processed. 

Vitamin and mineral dense (also rich in antioxidants) foods can support your immune system during intense training. This means choosing fruits and vegetables with a variety of rich and dense colors. You know that kale craze going on? Well besides the the fact that its over played, the general public is not far off on kale's ability to be rich in vitamins due to its deep color. Think of iceberg lettuce as your baseline for zero vitamins and minerals, and kale as the Rolls-Royce of vegetable choices. 

Notice throughout the models, high sugar rehydration drinks are not included. This is because they should never be consumed along with your daily meals. However, rehydration is extremely important My first recommendation is to start reading the labels of the recovery drinks you already consume. Does it contain ingredients you cannot pronounce? Try to find a better option. Potassium and sodium are the two components which are key to rehydration. These should be consumed during or directly after a workout. 

As always, seek advice from a medical doctor or sport dietician for any food restrictions, allergies, or medical specifications. This is only a general guideline to be used as part of your research towards a model that works best for you. Only a medical or nutrition professional can create an individual plan specifically for you and your needs. 

Othella Feroleto: Learning Whole Nutrition

Basic nutrition is no longer common place in our world, especially in the US. When it comes to making good decisions, we've unfortunately never been given the right tools. As we live our lives on the go, we reach more for alternatives than for whole foods. Even as athletes, we are still faced with the misconceptions that society instills. How do we educate ourselves to rise above the ideas that most of our peers and the people around us believe to be true about nutrition? We've brought back world medalist Othella Feroleto to help us address common misconceptions and to give us helpful tips.

Why do we still think carbs are the enemy?

One of the main reasons the general population views carbohydrates as an unhealthy food group, is because they’re often placed in a single category. All carbohydrates are broken down into sub-categories to include vegetables, fruits, grains and starches. A more accurate statement would be, “bad carbs are the enemy.” Avoiding convenient foods is a start toward moving into a better direction. This includes food that is fried, high in additives, preservatives, and are highly processed. Always read the back of the food labels. If you can't pronounce it, don't eat it! By believing you shouldn't eat carbs and eliminating healthful sources of carbohydrates could result in countless negative health consequences. This includes eliminating whole grains, potatoes, leafy greens, and a variety of fruits. Make sure you are eating your carbs! 

Protein is the new black, so how do we know we are getting enough protein?

The best way to ensure you are consuming the proper amount of protein is by keeping track. When physically active, men and women require 1 gram of protein per kilogram of body weight. Do the math and know your individual needs based on your current weight. Food labels are a helpful tool, they provide nutritional facts that can aid in determining your daily nutrient goals.

This doesn't mean you need to increase your protein by adding more animal products. Protein is available to you in many different forms. Vegetables, beans, brown/black rices, oatmeal, quinoa, nuts and seeds are high in protein. The more often you can add these to your meals, helps your protein add up by the end of the day.

Why is it important to diversify our plate of food? 

Creating a colorful plate of foods encourages the habit of consuming a variety of nutrients. There are many phytochemicals in red, orange, green, purple and yellow vegetables that support body functions on a cellular level. Phytochemicals are chemicals found in raw fruits and vegetables that are disease preventative. It's the reason we are encouraged to eat them! If we look at our plate and notice mostly white or color-less foods, we can be sure that we are depriving our bodies of nutrients. Color-less foods are often void of the properties that help us stay full. They are fast burning and we become hungry again quickly. The more colorful your plate, the longer it will take for you body to break down all the nutrients, which helps you remain fueled for training! Be adventurous when choosing meal options and enjoy the foods you’re eating.

What are some of the best foods for wrestlers to put on their plate? 

Carbohydrates are a very important macronutrient for wrestlers. Potatoes, brown and wild rice, whole grain breads, starches and vegetables like zucchini, squash, cauliflower and leafy greens are a few worth mentioning. While protein has its role in maintaining the health of athletes, carbohydrates are especially vital because of their energy producing capabilities. Both carbohydrates and proteins contribute to recovery. Choosing healthy fats and lean sources of protein like most seafood, chicken, turkey and eggs are also a wise choice when deciding what to place on your plate.

Othella Feroleto is a Military worlds bronze medalist, University Worlds bronze medalist, Senior world team alternate, 3x University world team member, 2x College Nationals Champ, and 2x Senior nationals runner up. She has her Bachelors of Science in Public Health and is currently pursuing her Masters degree in human-nutrition and dietetics.

Othella Feroleto: How to Use Protein Supplements as a Female Wrestler

By Othella Feroleto

Photograph by john sachs

Photograph by john sachs

Othella Feroleto is a former athlete for the US Army World Class Athlete Program, has an extensive wrestling resume, and is now pursuing her masters degree in human-nutrition and dietetics. We are thrilled to have nutrition advice from someone who has wrestled and traveled the world. That kind of experience helps you advise younger wrestlers who are looking to reach a new level of training. 

The world of supplements can be vast, and it's important to do your research and have the correct information that best suits your needs. We asked Othella four of the most asked questions when it comes to how to start supplementing with protein.

What should I look for in terms of a good protein?

When selecting a protein supplement, it’s important to determine the reason for using it. Using protein primarily for recovery is smart, because these nutrients are best absorbed in liquid form. Vegetarians and vegans will obviously choose supplements derived only from plant sources. Dairy and animal proteins can contain more calories, and is something to consider. Pay close attention to the list of ingredients, and specifically avoid added sodium and sweeteners when possible.

The nutrition of female athletes should include those nutrients lost during natural occurrences following puberty.

When should I be taking protein?

Supplements should be used in addition to whole foods, and not as a replacement. Protein supplements are a convenient substitute for individuals with restrictive diets, when traveling for competition, or for those seeking creative ways to incorporate more protein into their diets. Protein should be consumed throughout the day, as well as within 90 minutes following vigorous physical activity.

How does it benefit a female wrestler?

It is imperative for wrestlers to have a consistently well balanced diet, as the high intensity workouts are very depleting. The amino acids found in complete proteins reconstruct muscle building tissues that are broken down during training. The nutrition for female athletes should include those nutrients lost during natural occurrences following puberty. Calcium and vitamin D are two vitamins worth mentioning and should be taken together if consumed as a supplement. Eating leafy greens and colorful fruits and vegetables regularly is a natural way to include vitamins and minerals needed to support bone and tissue health.

How will I know when I need protein?

Protein needs change based on the level of physical activity. Some athletes enjoy weight training more than others, and those individuals should adjust protein demands based on fluctuations in their training regimen. Be aware of what’s going into your body. Read labels and refer to a registered dietitian for expert opinions on which supplement best suits individual needs.

Othella Feroleto is a Military worlds bronze medalist, University Worlds bronze medalist, Senior world team alternate, 3x University world team member, 2x College Nationals Champ, and 2x Senior nationals runner up. She has her Bachelors of Science in Public Health and is currently pursuing her Masters degree in Human-nutrition and dietetics.