by Theresa Logan
For a young athlete, convenient fast foods can easily become a staple in a busy class and practice schedule. Fast food restaurants offer quick high calorie sandwiches, meals, sides, and desserts. Many of these foods are high in fat calories, limited in important nutrients for optimal post recovery. A majority of the fat calories are found in fried chicken, burgers, French fries, desserts, beverages and contribute to inflammation, and unhealthy weight gain.
The truth is “we need healthy fats”. Why? Healthy fats provide energy for low to moderate exercise (walking, jogging), contribute to bone and muscle structure, hormone production especially testosterone-for muscle; body temperature regulation, brain and heart function, and help absorb vitamins A-D-E-K. In fact for anyone over the age of four, the Institute of medicine (IOM) recommends 20-35% of our diet contain healthy fats.
Fat is divided into (3) subgroups: saturated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated (contain omega-fats).
- Saturated fats: whole milk, whole fat cheese and yogurt, fatty cuts of meat. This group increases your body’s inflammation, unhealthy blood fats like cholesterol, LDL-cholesterol, etc. In other words the higher the inflammation, the higher the internal stress and repair in your body. Here are a few suggestions: Look for part skim, low fat milk, cheese, yogurt products; lean cuts of beef, and poultry foods.
- Monounsaturated fats are an excellent source for heart health, examples are: olives, olive oil, avocado, canola oil, * almond butter, *peanut butter. *Bonus food-contain healthy fats, and protein.
- Polyunsaturated fats: are made up of the Omega fats, omega-3, and omega-6 fats
- Omega-3 contribute to healthy brain, heart, eye, and immune function. Sources are salmon, sardines, tuna, oysters, flaxseeds, chia seeds, canola oils, flax oil, walnuts
- Omega-6 contribute to brain, bone and heart health. Sources: corn/safflower/sunflower and soy oils, salad dressings, margarine, shortening, poultry, eggs. It’s important to note this fat is abundant in our everyday food products.
- Omega-9 contributes to heart health. Sources are olives, canola oil, sunflower oil, olive oil, avocado, almonds, cashews, and macadamia nuts.
Before you pack your gym bag, remember to pack a smart fat snack. With little time between class, practice, and returning home, here are a few tips to increase smart fats in your diet.
- Create a smoothie. Mix Greek yogurt, avocado, nuts or flax seeds, frozen or fresh fruit, ice in a blender.
- Top off oatmeal with sliced nuts or flax seeds, berries
Snack: pack a snack size zip lock bag with almonds, cashews or peanuts and favorite dried fruits.
Lunch: Almond or Peanut butter sandwich, or Tuna sandwich topped with black olives or avocado slices
Dinner: Salmon with pasta or brown rice with vegetables. Drizzle olive oil on dinner bread or vegetables
Smart Fat Foods on the Road:
|Instead of This||Chose This|
Croissant, or muffin
Mash potato with gravy
Hot fudge sundae or shake
|Vegetable base soup
Baked Salmon, grilled tuna
Whole wheat dinner roll or bread, dip in olive oil, or avocado spread
Baked potato topped with olives, and seeds, sprinkle low fat cheese on top
Greek or low fat yogurt topped with berries, and sliced almonds
Sautee vegetables in a olive oil/soy oil blend
Lite popcorn, spray olive oil and salt on popcorn
Remember think smart, and pack smart fats to help fuel and repair your day.
Theresa Logan is registered dietitian specializing in sports nutrition and wellness in Columbia, S.C. She completed her Undergraduate degree in Allied Health at Misericordia University, and Masters in Nutrition Science at Virginia Tech. Currently, Theresa works at the University of South Carolina, counseling athletes in health, wellness, and sports performance. Theresa is a USTA adult league tennis player. Previous experiences include: sports nutrition services to George Mason University, Davidson College, and the Carolina Panthers. Personal consulting: TL2 Nutrition, LLC.Social tagging: diet > Don Hooton > education > Taylor Hooton Foundation