Track athletes learn about proper nutrition

Nutrition is a big part of playing sports. One student, Dominique White, thought it would be important for her teammates to understand the nutrition that their bodies need as athletes. 

On Tuesday Oct. 7, the women’s track and field dedicated an hour of their time to learn about the importance of nutrition from Heather Dykes, health and human sciences professor. Her presentation covered the basics of what an athlete’s body needs to work to its full potential during the season and offseason. 

“I have a student in my class, Dominique White, she asks me questions often that’s related to her sport…Instead of just helping her, I could try and relay the information to the whole team,” said Dykes.

Dykes started her presentation by asking a question about food and the importance of eating. It is important to regulate what one consumes.

She mentioned that athletes have only slightly different nutritional needs than others.

Dykes also discussed a website called MyPlate where anyone can look at a diagram of food groups and select a diet to follow. MyPlate teaches readers how to eat an adequate number of servings from each food group. It helps readers meet nutrients needed without going over your calorie budget.  

There are five food groups: grains, vegetables, dairy, fruits and protein. Dykes explained how important it was that everyone needs each of these food groups in their daily food intake. 

Dykes also went over different nutrients and how they are important to athletes. Carbohydrates are known as the fuel of choice because it is a quick source of energy. Complex carbohydrates provide athletes with sustained energy, which lasts a long time. One type of complex carbohydrate is glycogen. Glycogen is stored in the liver and athletes can hold this complex carb longer than non-athletes.

Of the many things she discussed, the most prominent was the importance of how food is prepared. It is much healthier to not eat fried foods, cook things with extra butter or add any extra toppings to side dishes. 

Of all the aspects Dykes mentioned, drinking milk seemed to cause the team to ask many questions. Skim milk is the healthiest milk, but some people do not like the flavor. She told the team that if they did not like the taste of skim milk, one percent is the best option. One percent milk has less fat than two percent milk. Some of the girls on the team mentioned that they do not drink milk and she says it must be replaced with some other type of dairy product, such as cheese or yogurt. Adding chocolate syrup to milk is healthy as long as someone continues to drink the milk. 

As Dykes concluded her presentation, she left the team by saying it is important to eat nutrients, not to go over one’s calorie budget and to eat slowly.

To learn more about MyPlate, visit