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A Guide to Optimizing Performance Through Nutrition

Wellness Spotlight




Nutrition is the cornerstone of overall well-being, influencing not just physical health but also mental acuity and performance in every area of life. In this blog, I’ll explore how you and your family members can utilize nutrition to fuel your performance in sports, learning, and the workplace.

When we think of performance, sports often come to mind, so I will begin this blog with a discussion on fitness. Whether you run or walk, are an experienced athlete or new to fitness, these tips can help. If you are participating in one of the Reaching for the Cure races, consider trying these tips in your preparation.

Girls on soccer field

Modern athletes are very conscientious about nutrition. They understand that fueling their body with the right nutrients can enhance endurance, strength, and recovery, which all lead to improved athletic performance. Consider the following tips that they use to optimize nutrition for your family athletes:

  • Prioritize complex carbohydrates (think whole grain bread, oatmeal, brown rice, quinoa, farro), lean proteins (like chicken breast, turkey breast, lean cuts of beef, tofu, lentils, beans), and healthy fats (salmon, tuna, eggs, and walnuts are great examples) to provide sustained energy and support muscle repair.
  • Hydration is important for everyone, but it is even more critical for athletes! Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water and electrolyte-rich fluids before, during, and after exercise. Check to see if you are hydrated enough—pinch the skin on your hand, if it snaps back in place in less than a second, you are good to go. If not, drink up!
  • Timing is key—consume a balanced meal or snack containing carbohydrates and protein 2-3 hours before workouts or competitions and refuel with a post-exercise snack within 30 minutes of finishing.

Nutrition plays a vital role in cognitive function and academic achievement. Students who nourish their bodies with brain-boosting foods are better equipped to focus, retain information, and perform well in their studies. Here are some strategies to optimize nutrition for learning:

  • Start the day with a balanced breakfast that includes whole grains, protein, and healthy fats to fuel concentration and memory. An example would be two eggs and whole grain toast, or Greek yogurt with walnuts and berries.
  • Incorporate brain-boosting foods such as fatty fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids, berries packed with antioxidants, and nuts and seeds high in vitamin E.
  • Snack strategically on nutrient-dense foods like fruits, vegetables, and nuts to maintain steady energy levels and avoid midday slumps.
Boys on Soccer Field

In today’s fast-paced work environment, maintaining peak productivity is essential for success. Nutrition plays a key role in supporting mental clarity, focus, and resilience in the face of workplace challenges. Consider these nutrition strategies to optimize your performance at work:

  • Stay fueled throughout the day with balanced meals and snacks containing a mix of carbohydrates, protein, and healthy fats to sustain energy levels and prevent productivity dips.
  • Incorporate brain-boosting foods such as dark leafy greens, avocados, and whole grains to support cognitive function and mental agility.
  • Prioritize hydration by drinking water regularly throughout the day to maintain alertness and combat fatigue.
  • Get up and walk around for 5 or 10 minutes every half hour or so.

Overall, nutrition is a powerful tool for optimizing performance across various aspects of life, including sports, learning, and the workplace. By fueling your body with the right nutrients and adopting healthy eating habits, you can unlock your full potential and achieve your performance goals. Remember, consistency is key – make small, sustainable changes to your diet over time, and reap the rewards of enhanced performance and well-being.

Do you have a question about health and wellness that you’ve always wanted to ask a registered dietician? Send an email to info@pcrf-kids.org and PCRF’s Wellness Expert Kelly Springer may answer it in her March 29 blog post!

Check back next Friday for our story: Smart and Simple – Easy Nutritious Food Swaps for Families

The forgoing article reflects the views of Kelly’s Choice, LLC. The Pediatric Cancer Research Foundation does not provide medical or nutritional advice and does not have a position with respect to the views expressed by the above.