Fast Food Tips for Athletes
Life is busy. Period. With the added stresses of training, competition and the responsibilities of being a student-athlete, the occasional trip through the drive-thru seems inevitable. Dining on fast food can be high in excess calories, fat and sugar and low in nutrients essential for optimal performance come game time. With chains expanding their menus to include healthier options, these quick meals don’t have to be a wasted opportunity to fuel.
If you find yourself needing to grab a convenient meal, keep these helpful tips in mind.
- Don’t supersize it!
As mentioned above, these meals are already high in unhealthy saturated fat. There’s no need to add more.
- Have it your way
Add on some extra colorful veggies and limit the sauces. Just holding the mayo could shave off 100 calories and up to 10 grams of fat. If you don’t think you can do that, even switching to lite mayo could help.
- Rethink your drink
Soft drinks can be loaded with sugar. Try swapping out your usual soda with water, milk, or 100% juice. One soda can add 300-400 empty calories to your meal.
- Limit fried foods
Chains are now offering a number of baked or grilled items. Explore the menu looking for grilled items like chicken sandwiches. You could exchange french fries for a baked potato, soup or fresh fruit. Many chains even offer fresh salads.
- Choose carbs over fats
Lean toward carbohydrate rich foods like breads, pastas and rice. This can help limit your intake of fattier fried foods. Remember, carbs are fuel. Look to replace your energy stores when you can. Chinese, Mexican and Italian restaurants tend to offer more of these options.
- Check the nutrition information
Restaurants have to keep this information readily available either in-store or on their website. Don’t be afraid to ask and take a look for yourself. On some websites, you can even customize your meal and quickly see the nutrition content of your choices. Add and subtract items to get a meal that works best for you!
- Limit fast food
The best way to limit the negative health effects of fast food is to avoid it when able. Planning meals ahead can help alleviate the day-to-day stresses of deciding what and where to eat. The fewer trips through the drive-thru the better. However, if you find yourself needing to make a quick refueling stop, remember these simple tips to help build a better fast food plate.
Resources and Links
- Simple Tricks for Athletes to Eat Well on a Budget
- 7 Tips for a Great Pre-game Meal
- Building a Better Breakfast
- Grocery Shopping on a Budget for Athletes
- Produce for Performance
- Grocery Shopping List for Athletes
- How to Control Large Portions When Eating Out
- How Can I Distinguish Healthy Items on a Restaurant Menu?
- What foods should be avoided when I eat out?
- Role of Hydration and Athletic Performance