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Question:

My son is varsity football player and wants to gain strength to improve his performance. Are there certain foods he should be eating?

Answer:


Rebecca Turner
MS, RD, LD

Fitter, faster, stronger, describes every athletes’ training goals. But exercise alone will not take players to the next level.  Among the food groups, protein is responsible for repairing, rebuilding, and preserving muscle tissue. It is simple, if an athlete doesn’t eat quality protein they can’t have quality muscle. You can encourage your son to implement these three steps for a stronger performance.

Step 1: Focus on protein at every meal.

Athletes should eat a variety of protein rich foods each day like seafood, nuts and beans, plus lean meat, poultry, and eggs. Don’t forget low fat dairy provides a unique combination of protein and eight other essential nutrients, including calcium, potassium and vitamin D.  Snacking on Greek yogurt provides two times as much muscle building protein as regular yogurt.  

Step 2: Eat omega-3 fats.

Eat fat and gain muscle? Yes, researchers suggest essential fatty acids boost everything from heart health to players’ mood. Omega-3s are thought to help spare muscle due to their anti-inflammatory properties. Foods like salmon, walnuts, and omega-3 enriched eggs provide these essential fats plus protein making them muscle magicians. 

Step 3: Fuel Up After Resistance Training

Aerobic activities (like sprints, drills, or running) are great for cardiovascular strength but do little to build muscle.  Resistance training plus dietary protein builds new muscle and improves strength. Fueling up with a high quality protein rich snack like low-fat chocolate milk within 30 minutes of resistance workouts ensures the athlete will receive the nutrients needed to be strong!

 

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