Athletes eat to compete

Last Monday, in conjunction with Augie Green and the Augustana Student Association (ASA), the Ordal Dining Hall did a trial run of Meatless Monday.

Meatless Monday is an initiative to encourage individuals to reduce their meat intake once a week to help reduce the Earth’s carbon levels.

The football and men’s basketball players were among those who were upset. Some took to Twitter and Facebook to voice their opinions.

But what do athletes really eat? And what should they be eating?

Freshman wrestler Hunter Burnett said that the wrestling coach has gone into the dining hall with members of the team and talked about good and bad foods.

Burnett said that sometimes, he has to skip the main meal and go get a salad or make a sandwich to get the nutrition that he needs to compete.

“For the most part, there’s a lot we can substitute out that’s going to be way better for us, but I think it’s a preference of whether you like that or not,” Burnett said. “And you might just have to sacrifice when you would rather have something else. It’s kinda hard, but not that hard if you really [try].”

Burnett said he started really focusing on his diet when he was a sophomore in high school. “I started researching better ways to eat for sports,” Burnett said.

Since then, the wrestler said he has cut out pop, candy, and dairy products.

“I like to be on a really good diet that’s very scheduled and consistent,” Burnett said. “So that it just helps me maintain energy throughout not only the day but practice and helps me feel good for tournaments.”

Senior distance runner Josh Barrows also cuts out excess sugars in and out of season.

“Especially during track season I try to refrain from any sort of excess sugars,” Barrows said.

Barrows said that generally he doesn’t have to watch calories because he loses weight faster than he gains it.

“Most of the time for me, I have to eat as many calories as I can, but they have to be good, productive calories rather than sweets,” he said.

This year, a nutritionist has been available to athletes, according to Barrows. He said the track team has met with the nutritionist twice. Burnett said he also talked about diet with the nutritionist.

Barrows said the way he feels could be just chalked up to the placebo effect, but when he eats healthier, he feels “more energized, not lethargic, can recover better, [doesn’t get] as sore, [and has more] stamina in hard workouts.”

Junior Mike Swanson played football as an offensive lineman last year but is no longer on the team due to a back injury.

Swanson said the offensive lineman diet is a “see-food” diet—“you kinda just see food and you eat it. That being said, you wanna eat healthy, whole foods but typically really high protein, really high carb, moderate fat. That’s what I always did, and I would eat a lot of eggs and oatmeal.”

Swanson said he would have nine or 10 hard-boiled eggs, three cups of oatmeal and a banana for breakfast. After his workout, he said he would have “the exact same thing.”

“Throughout the day, I’d snack on hard boiled eggs, so just a lot of protein. Eggs are super cheap and easy to prepare, so it’s kind of a perfect food,” Swanson said. “There’s a lot of good vitamins and stuff.” He said he would also snack on almonds.

Swanson also said he ate a lot of chicken and beef at the dining hall, as well as rice, sweet potatoes and lots of vegetables.

Swanson said that every once and a while, the linemen would go out and have pizza, but for the most part, they stick to what they know is good for them.

“I knew that it wasn’t very healthy to be as heavy as I was so I wanted to optimize my health by eating as healthy as I could with high quality and a lot of food,” Swanson said.

Swanson cited health reasons as another reason for making the decision to be done with football.

“As an offensive lineman, your goal is to be the strongest person you can be so you can be a bulldozer and move people out of the way. You’re a protector. The diet, I did for my teammates, so I could be the best protector I could be, so I could be the strongest possible person I could be so I could protect everyone. It’s part of the job, you just do what you gotta do. I was willing to,” Swanson said.

Post-football, Swanson said that over the past year, he’s gotten into bodybuilding and cut down to seven percent body fat.

Though he still eats well, he said two of his favorite foods are burritos and pancakes.

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