Why the ambition is balanced nutrition

By Teziah Howard
Jambar Contributor

Diet is significant to achieving a healthy lifestyle, and nutrition plays a key role in how people develop and perform everyday tasks.

For those who engage in physical activity, diet and nutrition can be a focus. Macronutrients such as carbohydrates and proteins are essential for energy and performance.

Athletes at Youngstown State University participate in physical activity consistently, and resources are available to guide them through their nutritional journey.

Jenna Hayes, a graduate assistant and vice president of Students in Dietetics, said caloric intake is a key factor in athletic performance.

“Athletes have multiple practices a day, lifts, games and tournaments. It’s a lot of energy their bodies are exerting,” Hayes said. “The most important thing is to have adequate calories.”

Consuming calories is not just significant to athletes, but to everyone. Hayes said reflecting on nutrition is something everyone needs to do.

“Something that we can apply to both is to be conscious of what we are eating,” Hayes said. “There is a close connection between diet and how we function as human beings.”

Taking care of nutrition involves focus, which only increases with physical activity. Kalli Knoble, a dietetics major and track and field athlete, said it can be a challenge to focus on nutrition.

“Trying to balance being an athlete and eating the right things and eating enough is difficult,” Knoble said.

While eating healthy comes with its struggles, for Knoble, her team keeps her on track.

“A lot of my teammates come to me for advice. I don’t always know the answer but I do spend a lot of time debunking myths and having arguments,” Knoble said. “That’s actually fun, teaching people what I know.”

As performance nutrition is a key factor, there are many ways to stay healthy with diet. Knoble said nutrition is diverse.

“Nutrition is so individualized,” Knoble said. “There’s no rules to it.”

While nutrition can differ from person to person, similar standards lie within nutrition for sports performance. Jancie Shina, a registered dietitian who graduated from YSU’s dietetics program, said the lack of optimal nutrition habits can decrease performance.

“If [athletes] are not getting adequate calories, carbohydrates or adequate nutrition, then of course that’s going to affect their performance in the sense that they are not going to have the energy to perform the way they want to,” Shina said.

Shina has worked with multiple athletes over her career. She said athletes must always have priorities in what they eat.

“Understanding that the level of nutrition or calories is up here compared to an average American that’s down here,” Shina said. “Getting athletes to understand they need to eat frequently — three meals a day plus frequent snacks in between — depending on how high the activity level is.”

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