Inside the Diet of CMU Athletes
It’s no secret that what you put in your body has a tremendous effect on how your body functions mentally and physically. For Central Michigan University student athletes, a balanced diet filled with proteins, vitamins and nutrients is crucial to ensure a successful season. Find out how members from multiple CMU athletic teams manage a healthy diet between classes, intense workouts and gameday.
Sprinting to steal bases and throwing fastballs are just some of the physically intense actions observed from the stands of CMU’s Theunissen Stadium from the Chippewa baseball team. However, there are behind the scene initiatives taken by players to ensure top speed and precision come out on the diamond: a filling diet.
Central’s baseball team is always on the move. A little more than a month into their 2018 season, the team has traveled hundreds of miles away for games in places such as Edinburg, Texas, Albuquerque, New Mexico and Tampa, Florida.
Illinois sophomore's Tyler Hankins and Cameron Brown — pitchers for CMU’s baseball team —both agree that finding the right foods to eat while on the road can be challenging.
“Our daily routine impacts the diet. It’s hard to find time to eat,” Brown said. “You try to find the most food that can tide you over until you have another chance to eat.”
With their in-season schedule requiring the team to travel frequently, Brown and Hankins have found specific foods that help fill them up. Both pitchers say they enjoy omelettes in the morning and grilled chicken with a variety of carbs offered in the cafeteria for lunch and dinner.
In addition to filling foods, both players have found that protein shakes play a key role in their diets.
Hankins said he drinks protein shakes four to five times a week.
“I drink them after workouts or sometimes when I don’t have time to eat," Brown said.
Despite a demanding schedule filled with workouts, traveling and games, both Hankins and Brown have become creative with their in-season diet by fueling up with nutrients as the team heads into their 2018 season.
For many student athletes, meal prepping has become a weekly ritual that takes place to ensure all dietary needs are met throughout the week between classes, practices and games.
In order to maintain the right balance of nutrients during her training sessions both in and out of season, Colorado redshirt freshman Keelin Broeker is one of the many athletes who practices meal prepping in the healthiest way she can.
“(During) In-season I eat eight times a day easily because I want to get all the proteins and essentials for my diet to keep up my energy so my body can recover,” Broeker said.
To help her through training sessions and field hockey games, Broeker relies on filling her body with healthy foods to ensure a successful season.
Broeker said she likes to start her day off right with a classic morning breakfast.
“I like to do scrambled egg whites with a mix of different veggies," she said. "I like to incorporate some fruits. I like my coffee, so that’s definitely got to be in there.”
To replenish after a long day of activities, whether it’s a practice or a game, Broeker likes to focus her dinner around lean meats like chicken and fish.
“I really like chicken, broccoli and rice. It’s so easy to make,” Broeker said. “If it isn’t chicken, I definitely try to go for fish. I like to make salmon and tilapia because it doesn’t have any added hormones.”
Understanding how her diet impacts her time on the field has become a integral part of Broeker’s routine. She’s dedicated to giving her body the essential nutrients it needs after long days on and off the field.
“It’s good to get a healthy balance of everything that your body needs,” Broeker said.
The competitive world of intercollegiate football requires CMU’s football team to be ready for anything that comes their way on the turf of Kelly/Shorts Stadium. Not only must athletes keep their physical health at optimal levels, but their diet must be kept in check as well.
“It’s important to have a good diet because if you have a poor diet you won't have the energy you need for gameday,” said Ishpeming senior Alex Briones, a linebacker for the Chippewas football team. “Putting the right stuff in your body will put you in the right spot for gameday.”
As a linebacker, Briones plays a key role in the way the team functions on the field. Linebackers must be strong enough to provide defense on running plays and protein serves a crucial role in the strength of linebackers.
Briones likes to stick with three simple protein-packed foods: chicken, eggs and protein shakes.
Briones noted that protein shakes have become a large part of his daily diet.
“Every time we get done with a workout, which is pretty much every day, I try to drink the protein shakes that are for us after practice,” Briones said.
In addition to healthy foods, there’s a flipside to every diet that consists of foods that are taxing on one's health such as added sugars, high-calorie oils and trans fats. Since Briones’ role on the football team requires him to maintain high levels of protein and healthy carbs to build muscle, there are some foods he avoids during the season.
“I try to avoid fast food," Briones said. "I just try to keep it healthy because I know it will benefit me through the duration of the season, especially during fall camp and then going into the season."
When asked about how her in-season diet differs from her out-of-season eating habits, Canada sophomore Charlie Wright explained both diets are very similar since the gymnastics team trains year-long and "(doesn’t) really have an off-season.”
Those who participate in gymnastics must have characteristics pertaining to coordination, agility, balance, flexibility and, of course, strength. Extended periods of training means members of the gymnastics team must eat healthy year-round in order to help their bodies perform the strenuous tasks required at meets.
To provide her body with the proper nutrients needed for those long days on the mat, Wright knows what she puts in her body has an effect on how she performs.
Wright said some of her go-to meals include: Smoothies rich in antioxidants, protein-packed eggs, lean meats like chicken and pork and salads topped with chicken, lima beans and vegetables.
In addition to those foods loaded with vitamins and minerals, Wright said drinking milk is crucial to her daily diet as well.
“After every weight session, (the coaches) tell us to take milk with us,” Wright said.
When the team is on the road, Wright noted that her coaches do an excellent job at helping their athletes maintain a healthy diet.
“When we’re traveling, they know what we need to eat," Wright said. "When we’re out, our coaches will give us the menu and they’ll tell us what’s good to eat and what we should stay away from."
In addition to the help of her coaches, Wright has built a clear foundation of what foods to avoid.
“I try to avoid a lot of the cafeteria food to be honest. Most of it is breaded, which isn’t good for you,” she said, adding she likes to cut out desserts and soda pop from her diet as well.
Whether she’s traveling to a competition or training for her time on the mat in McGuirk Area, Wright has established her own healthy diet to ensure a successful season.
In addition to carrying, catching, passing and shooting a ball into the goal with a lacrosse stick, the sport of lacrosse requires players to run for a long duration of time.
Maryland sophomore Emma Hamilton said this is where slow-release foods come into play.
Since lacrosse players like Hamilton are required to run for long periods of time, slow-release foods play a key role in their diets. According to Natural Balance Foods, slow-release foods keep people feeling fuller for longer periods of time compared to other foods that do not fit this category. Some examples of slow-release foods are proteins, grains, healthy carbs and beans.
On any given day, Hamilton said she likes to eat daily meals that impact her diet in a positive way. Some of her go-to meals include omelettes filled with cheese, spinach and ham, bagels topped with cream cheese, wraps filled with turkey, cheese, guacamole, hummus and lettuce, a variety of pasta and lean meats like chicken and turkey.
When asked to compare her in-season diet and her out-of-season diet, Hamilton said her in-season diet is much more structured with the help of Dr. Leslie Hildebrandt, a sports nutritionist for CMU athletics.
“In the season (Hildebrandt) really helps us out,” Hamilton said, adding she helps provide athletes with in-season eating plans in order to help athletes recover from the practices and matches that come with lacrosse.
Maintaining a healthy diet no matter what setting CMU’s women's lacrosse team finds themselves in, whether on the road for days at a time or locally here in Mount Pleasant, it is important to retain the energy and nutrients needed for the season.
For CMU athletes, a healthy diet correlates to a successful season. The same can be said for CMU students in terms of how they feel and perform throughout the day. What you put into your body has a substantial effect on how you fulfill every day tasks. Make it a priority to take care of your body and give it the nutrients it needs by taking healthy eating advice from our student athletes.