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At the University of Wyoming, a three step process is used to educate student-athletes on using nutrition optimally to enhance performance in the classroom and on the field of play.

Fruits, Vegetables and Healthy Oils

Fruits and vegetables contain vitamins and minerals which aid in many important metabolic processes such as, carbohydrate metabolism and protein synthesis (muscle building). Fruits and vegetables are also rich in powerful antioxidants. These antioxidants eliminate free radicals which are an unwanted by-product of exercise. Free radicals are responsible for soreness and inflammation which causes a prolonged recovery time. When choosing fruits and vegetables think "color." This strategy ensures a wide variety of antioxidants which eliminate free radicals and decrease recovery time. The antioxidants also support a healthy immune system to prevent illnesses. A decrease in recovery time along with a healthy immune system gives you the edge over your opponent.
Fruit and Vegetable choices: Think "color," the more color, the better.

Healthy oils like omega-3's and Vitamin E provide essential fats that can be utilized as fuel. These healthy fats also act as anti-inflammatories and aid brain development.
Healthy oil choices: Fish, avocado, oil based dressings, nuts, olive or canola or flax oils

Carbohydrates, Starches and Fibers

Carbohydrates & starches are the energy rich foods that provide the primary fuel source for high intensity activities. Consuming adequate amounts of Step 2 foods ensures a full gas tank during training and competition. It is important to adjust carbs and starches with activity level to maintain weight and energy levels. Eating fiber-rich foods aids in keeping a healthy digestive tract.
High-fiber carbohydrate choices: Whole-grain breads, rice, pasta, cereal, grains, bagels, bananas.
High-fiber starch choices: Potatoes, sweet potatoes, peas, corn, beans, quinoa.

Protein

Protein is necessary to maintain or gain muscle mass, otherwise known as lean mass. Consuming high-quality protein consistently, throughout the day and post-workout helps protect lean mass. For optimum recovery post-workout and post-competition consume 20-30g of a high quality protein with a carbohydrate source within 30 minutes. Protein at this time helps repair and rebuild muscle damaged from exercise.

When building a meal or snack, be sure to include foods from each of the 3 steps as they all play an important role in performing optimally to gain the edge over your opponent.

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