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Eating for Energy
Diet and nutrition are often overlooked aspects of training and conditioning for Cheerleaders. Learn what to eat before a practice, competition, game or tryouts - Eating for Energy.
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Fueling Your Sport

As in any sport, diet and nutrition are important to Cheerleaders. A proper diet can help build strong muscles, keep your mind alert, give you energy and enhance your performance. Simply said, "Food fuels your body and mind".

There is so much focus on the appearance of Cheerleaders, they sometimes become victims of fad diets, fast weight loss and improper nutrition. Don't give in and fall into these ruts. Cheerleading is a high energy sport that takes fast thinking, good coordination and strong muscles. It is far better to maintain a healthy and nutritious diet, get plenty of rest, drink lots of fluids and exercise, to keep your body in peak condition for optimal performance. You are what you eat; eat healthy and be healthy.

Without getting into too much physiology, your body needs carbohydrates, proteins and fats. Carbohydrates are the body's main source of energy. Proteins are the basis for your muscles and fats/oils help with your nerves and hormones among other things. A proper diet should include all of these, but the key to maximum performance is the ratio you intake. An athlete should eat a balanced diet that is high in carbohydrates, low in fat, and adequate in protein.

Follow these simple guidelines of what to eat before, during and after you perform, compete, or tryout.

What to Eat and When

  • Before
    • Eat high carbohydrate foods like bread, pasta, whole grains, vegetables, and fruits. Carbohydrates are digested quickly and provide glucose to the muscles. Stay away from dairy products and too much protein like greasy hamburgers, pizza, ice cream, and cheese. Avoid soda pop and candy bars. They can give you a quick burst of energy, but it will drop quickly, leaving you feeling spent.
    • Timing your meal from 1 to 4 hours before strenuous activity will help keep plenty of blood glucose available for your muscles.
    • It is also important to drink plenty of water to keep your muscles hydrated.
  • During
    • Drink plenty of water. Exertion and perspiration deplete your body of fluids and can lead to dehydration. It is recommended you drink at least a half of cup of water for every twenty minutes of exercise or strenuous activity.
    • If your activity is hard and continuous, over 90 minutes, drink a sports beverage or a drink with sugar added.
  • After
    • This is the time to eat protein to replenish what you lost during your physical activity, but don't overdo it. Remember protein can not only come from meats but is also present in dairy products and eggs.
    • Replace carbohydrates if your activity was long and exerting.
    • Replace any potassium or sodium that has been lost during competition or training by eating fruits, vegetables and salty foods.
    • Continue to replace fluids.

Knowing what foods your body needs for energy will payoff in your athletic accomplishments. Eat smart and you'll perform better.

Good Luck!

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