Richard Stockton College Athletic Training

Sports Nutrition Newsletter
A periodic Newsletter that addresses the Nutritional aspects
of athletic competition.

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Nancy Brinch, MS, RD, LSW, is Richard Stockton College's campus nutritionist. She obtained her BS in Food and Nutriton from the Univ. of Delaware and her Master's in Nutrition from Penn State Univ.

She provides individual, confidential nutritional counseling to students. Her service is free for RSC students. For appointments call extension 5740. Nancy Brinch can be contacted at
Controlling Your Weight The Permanent Way

By Nancy Brinch, MS, RD, LSW

Maintaining the "ideal" weight can be a problem for some athletes. The college athlete faces an additional weight challenge. Recent research from Cornell University showed that college freshmen at Cornell gained an average 4.2 pounds in their first 12 weeks on campus. Contributing to this weight gain were all-you-can-eat dining facilities which accounted for 20% of the weight gain, increased evening snacking, high consumption of "junk" foods, and recent dieting (dieters were more likely to gain weight.) Some athletes have a distorted idea of what they should weigh. These athletes aim for a body weight that is too low for them, and this hampers their athletic performance. Taking in too few calories can result in hunger that can lead to overeating and impair competitiveness. Some athletes who could benefit from losing weight try to accomplish weight loss by unhealthy means. What is the best weigh to achieve and maintain a healthy weight?

Attempting to lose weight during the season is not a good idea. Too often when an athlete limits caloric intake while actively engaging in practice and competition the result is fatigue and poor performance. The best time to focus on weight loss is during the off-season.

Become aware of your eating habits

Before starting a weight loss program you need to become aware of your current eating behavior. Start by recording everything you eat for about a week. Write down what you eat, the portion size, and the time you eat. Be sure to include beverages and snacks as well as meals. Be honest with yourself. This is a learning experience so you can help yourself. After you have kept food records for a week, review them looking for:

•How did you space your meals and snacks throughout the day? You should eat every 3 -5 hours. If you wait longer than 5 hours between meals and snacks you will set yourself up for overeating later.

•Did you eat breakfast? You should eat within one hour after getting up. Research shows that people who skip breakfast overeat later in the day.

•Did you eat most of your food later in the day? If you eat little food during the day when your body needs the energy you will be hungry later and increase the likelihood that you will overeat at night.

•Did your meals and snacks include unrefined grains, fruits and vegetables, and low-fat dairy foods or did you eat mainly refined carbs like pretzels, rice cakes, cookies, and chips? Eating fruits, vegetables, whole grains and other fiber-rich foods that have a low glycemic response (a small effect on your blood sugar level) increases satiety which delays hunger (see 12/02 Sports Nutrition Newsletter: Carbohydrates Fuel Performance.)

•Did you eat at times when you were not physically hungry? If so, why did you eat when you were not hungry? Did you eat just because the food tasted good or because the food was nearby or did you eat because you were bored or you were procrastinating studying? Any calories you consume when you are not physically hungry are calories your body does not need. These extra calories are converted to fat and stored in the body.

Create your personal eating plan.

Once you are more aware of your eating patterns, you can plan changes you are willing to make. Be realistic. Set goals you can reasonably accomplish. You do not have to completely remake your diet all at once. "Progress not perfection" applies here. Perhaps you could:

•Start eating breakfast. A good breakfast includes whole grains such as whole wheat toast, whole grain cereal such as shredded wheat or oatmeal plus a source of protein like peanut butter, eggs, skim or 1% milk, low-fat cheese, cottage cheese, or Canadian bacon. Add a piece of fruit, and you have a breakfast that will keep you fueled 3 or 4 hours.

•Make the time to eat lunch about 4 hours after you have eaten breakfast. This meal also should include whole grains such as a whole wheat bread or pita or it could include legumes such as lentil soup. It also should include a source of protein like turkey, tuna, ham, lean roast beef, low-fat cheese, cottage cheese, or peanut butter. A piece of fruit and a serving of vegetable (try raw vegetables, small salad, V-8 or tomato juice) balance the meal.

•Eat a snack if the time between meals will exceed 4 or 5 hours. Carry healthy snack foods with you to be sure you won't miss this mini-meal and set yourself up for overeating later. Carry a 1-ounce packet of nuts, fresh fruit or a small box of raisins, a granola bar. If possible eat a carton of yogurt or spread 1 tablespoon of peanut butter on apple slices.

•Minimize refined carbohydrates like chips, pretzels, cookies, candy, regular soda and sweetened beverages. These can cause surges in blood sugar levels followed by plunges in blood sugar which can lead to increased hunger and overeating.

•Always ask yourself "Am I physically hungry?" before eating. If you are not physically hungry, tell yourself you will wait until you are hungry. Then distract yourself with another activity such as taking a walk, talking to a friend, or playing a computer game. Too often eating can be a way to procrastinate or to avoid doing something you don't want to do. Keep a list of alternative nonfood activities handy. Remember that if you do not have the physical signal of hunger to tell you when to start eating, you will not have the physical signal of satiety to tell you when to stop eating.

Write some food records, especially at times you are struggling to avoid overeating. Studies show that people who write what and how much they eat are more successful at losing weight. This takes effort, but the results are worth it.

•Avoid temptation. Try to keep tempting foods you are likely to overeat out of sight.

•Eat at the table. Avoid eating standing, on the run, in front of the TV or while on the computer. By eating only at the table you are more likely to focus on what you are eating and how full you are feeling.

•Don't deprive yourself of all of your favorite foods. Allow yourself to eat foods you enjoy in small portions. Eat slowly and savor the experience. Enjoy a small treat once or twice a week, and you will be less likely to overeat.

•If you do overeat, be easy on yourself and get back onto your eating plan. Responding to overindulgence by feeling guilty and continuing to overeat will sabotage your efforts. View a slip as a learning experience. Figure out why you overate and how you can avoid overeating in the future.

Start with one or two of these suggestions. Once you have mastered them, add one or two more to your eating plan. By incorporating them into your eating habits you will make lifestyle changes that will help you achieve and maintain your healthy weight. If you would like personalized help with managing your weight, you can schedule an appointment with RSC's nutritionist, Nancy Brinch, by calling Ext. 5740 from on campus or 652-4701 from off campus. The sessions are free to RSC students.
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