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.