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Meeting Student-Athletes' Nutritional Needs

Eating right while in college can be difficult. Junk food like pizza, burgers, and fried snacks are readily available on or near campus. Since cooking in dorms is generally prohibited, this leaves few healthy alternatives. The only vegetables in the vicinity may be found in the school’s cafeteria.

Failing to supply the body with the necessary nutrition can lead to all sorts of physical- and mental-health problems. Surviving on fast food may result in illness, fatigue, and other symptoms. College life is stressful enough without putting additional strain on the mind and body.

The situation can be worse for college athletes, who may be under even more pressure than other students. All that stress, along with the physical demands of sports, can be challenging. To stay healthy, and maximize their performance, student-athletes must be deliberate about nutrition.

Eat a Balanced Diet
You have heard it since you were a kid: “Eat your vegetables.” This is especially important for athletes. A variety of veggies, including the super-nutritious leafy ones, should be eaten every day. Fruits, whole grains, and protein are also essential. Avoid fried foods and white bread, and opt for fish instead of red meat a few times a week.

Sugar, salt, and saturated fats sap strength and energy. They also add body fat. These consequences are not only unhealthy; they can diminish an athlete’s performance on the field or court. A long-term effect of consuming large amounts of these substances may be increased vulnerability to illness and disease.

Don’t Forget Breakfast
Nutritionists emphasize the value of eating breakfast. They call it the most important meal of the day, because it replenishes the body after many hours of not eating. The hectic lives of college students require this fuel.

Breakfast is especially critical for those who play sports, as they often have morning practices or workouts. Such exertion on an empty stomach places a lot of strain on the body, which does not respond as well without food energy.

The key is to eat something in the morning, even if you oversleep and are in a hurry. At least grab a bagel and piece of fruit. Always having such ready-to-eat, nutritious items in your dorm room can save you from missing breakfast (or going to a fast-food restaurant). Ideally, the morning meal should include protein (from meat, eggs, and beans) and whole grains, as well as fruit.

Get Enough Protein
Many believe that physically active people should eat a lot of meat and other protein-rich foods. While protein is vital, overdoing it can be counterproductive. Too much protein may result in increased body fat, a loss of calcium, and dehydration. These conditions are particularly undesirable for athletes, who require toned muscles, strong bones, and well-hydrated systems.

The richest sources of protein are fish, beef, pork, and poultry. Dairy is another option. Eggs, as well as the whey protein in milk, are highly recommended. Other foods containing protein are beans, soy, quinoa, nuts, seeds, and whole grains. The best advice is to get protein from a variety of foods.

Consume Carbohydrates
Those seeking to shed pounds know they need to cut back on carbohydrates, which cause weight gain. However, avoiding carbs can be dangerous because they supply the body with the energy it needs to function properly. Athletes who neglect carbohydrates quickly become tired, and lose strength and endurance.

Carbohydrates are stored in the muscles, in the form of glycogen. The body converts glycogen into glucose (sugar), which boosts energy. Experts say that, for most people, the amount of glycogen the body can hold is enough for a 90-minute workout. Those who play sports, which usually last longer than that, are advised to load up on carbs for several days before the big game. This is really crucial for long-distance runners and bicyclists, swimmers, cross-country skiers, endurance athletes, and others whose activities are not only lengthy but also entail extreme physical exertion.

Candy, soda pop, and other sweets contain a lot of carbohydrates. However, they are considered “bad” carbs because they lack the vitamins and minerals found in “good” (complex) carbs. Whole-grain breads, cereals, and pastas (as well as vegetables, fruits, and brown rice) are examples of foods with good carbs.

Experts advise most people to ensure that carbohydrates make up a little more than half of their total food consumption. Athletes may want to increase the percentage somewhat, without getting too carried away. Diets consisting of 70 percent carbs are recommended for endurance athletes and others whose sports involve long, strenuous exercise.

Eat foods rich in carbohydrates before, during, and after intense physical activities. A small, high-carb meal an hour before a game or workout is advised. Pack a whole-grain muffin, sports bar, or fruit juice to refuel during a sports activity. Replenish the body afterword with a high-carb snack.

Drink Plenty of Water
Athletes must keep hydrated. They should drink water, sports drinks, or fruit juice before, during, and after exercising. Moisture lost via perspiration needs to be replaced, or the body will overheat and eventually break down.

Two cups of water before an activity, and at least one-half cup every 15-20 minutes while exercising, are recommended. Some authorities suggest starting with water, then switching to sports drinks because they contain electrolytes.
Keep drinking through a game or match, even when you don’t feel particularly thirsty. Keep an eye on your urine. If it is darker than normal, that could indicate dehydration. Fatigue, dizziness, and upset stomach are other possible signs that you need more water.

Supplement Your Diet
Student-athletes put so much stress on their bodies that they might find it difficult to get sufficient nutrition from food. Dietary supplements can help. Start with a multivitamin that contains not only Vitamins A through D, but also thiamin, riboflavin, and niacin. The body uses these substances to convert food into the energy that physically active people need. Look for a multivitamin that also features calcium, iron, and potassium. These nutrients are rapidly diminished while playing sports.

Many other kinds of supplements are also available. Omega-3 oils, found naturally in fish, help to regulate inflammation and blood-sugar levels. Athletes need to get enough magnesium, which strengthens muscles and regulates heart rhythm.

For student-athletes, there are multiple reasons to adopt healthy diets. Without the necessary nutrition, their ability to succeed in sports is hampered. More importantly, their overall health suffers. To maintain strength and energy, it is critical that physically active students take nutrition seriously.

Degree Programs at Top Sports Schools

For some students, the colorful spectacle of college sports is one of the attractions of postsecondary education. It can be a lot of fun to attend a school that gets national attention for its athletic programs.

You may be a student-athlete hoping to play on a university team, and perhaps earn a scholarship to attend the institution. Or, you could just be a big fan of college sports and all the associated activities. Of course, you are not going to choose a university solely on the prowess of its athletics. The place where you pursue your studies must also offer a degree program in the field you plan to study.

The top 8 sports schools (in terms of revenue generated by their NCAA athletics) feature a wide array of undergraduate and graduate degrees. All of them provide majors in business, education, and engineering. They vary in some other respects.

1. University of Texas
With sports revenues of more than $163 million in 2013, the University of Texas heads the list. The Longhorns have won more conference championships than another other university since the Big 12 was established in 1998.

UT has captured four national football championships and ranks second in the nation in wins. In all, the school can claim 40 national titles (in football, baseball, and track and field). Other sports include men’s and women’s basketball, golf, swimming and diving, tennis, track and field, and cross-country. Additional options for women are softball, rowing, soccer, and volleyball. UT students and alumni have won 88 Olympic medals.

The university offers undergraduate degrees in 170 fields of study. In addition to business, education, and engineering, colleges include architecture, communications, fine arts, geosciences, natural sciences, liberal arts, nursing, pharmacy, and social work. The graduate school has 154 master’s degree programs and 86 doctorates UT’s law school awards a master of laws and a doctor of jurisprudence degree.

2. Ohio State University
Another school that gets plenty of national television coverage because of its sports teams is Ohio State University. The Buckeyes have won 28 U.S. men’s championships, including seven football titles. Women’s teams have captured 30 national championships, mostly in synchronized swimming. Individual titles have been won by 232 men and 95 women.

The university has teams for both genders in basketball, cross-country, fencing, golf, gymnastics, ice hockey, lacrosse, pistol, rifle, soccer, swimming and diving, tennis, track and field, and volleyball. Men play football and wrestle, while women may choose field hockey, rowing, softball, or synchronized swimming.

The school awards 175 majors, and hundreds of minors and specializations. Colleges include architecture, arts and sciences, dental hygiene, dentistry, environment and natural resources, food and agriculture, health and rehabilitation services, medicine, nursing, optometry, pharmacy, public affairs, public health, and social work. OSU has 115 master’s programs and 90 doctorate degrees.

3. University of Michigan
Teams have been competing at this school in Ann Arbor since 1865, capturing more than 50 national championships in 12 sports. There are programs for men and women in basketball, gymnastics, lacrosse, and soccer. Other sports are football, baseball, softball, men’s ice hockey, and wrestling.

The university‘s 19 schools and colleges feature about 250 degree programs. They include architecture, art and design, dentistry, information, kinesiology, law, literature, science, medicine, music, theater and dance, natural resources and the environment, nursing, pharmacy, public health, and public policy.

Michigan’s Rackham Graduate School offers 108 doctorate programs, 87 master’s degrees, and 34 certificate programs.

4. University of Alabama
Founded in 1831, the University of Alabama is particularly famous for its football program. Fifteen of the school’s 23 NCAA titles in team sports have been won on the gridiron. Other opportunties include basketball, baseball, gymnastics, rowing, cross-country, golf, soccer, softball, swimming and diving, tennis, track and field, and volleyball.

Alabama provides 80 types of undergraduate degrees in more than 200 fields of study. Among its colleges are those devoted to arts and sciences, communications, health services, human environmental sciences, law, nursing, and social work.

5. University of Florida
The Gators have enjoyed success on the national level in several sports. They own a pair of championship trophies in both football and men’s basketball. In all, Florida can claim 31 team titles and 193 individual championships. Most of them have been in track, gymnastics, and tennis.

The school also is famous for its baseball program, which has produced numerous major leaguers. Other sports are softball, women’s basketball, rowing, cross-country, soccer, golf, swimming and diving, and volleyball.

This university, in Gainesville, consists of 16 colleges. Among their disciplines are agriculture and life sciences, dentistry, construction design and planning, fine arts, health, journalism and communications, law, liberal arts and sciences, medicine, nursing, pharmacy, public health, and veterinary medicine.

There are 40 master’s degrees, with hundreds of specializations available, at Florida. The school offers doctorate degrees in audiology, education, plant medicine, and philosophy majors from aerospace to zoology.

6. Texas A & M
Though football is king at Texas A & M, the university also has basketball, baseball, golf, swimming and diving, tennis, track and field, and cross-country. Other options for women are softball, equestrian sports, soccer, and volleyball.

This school, in College Station, has 16 colleges with multiple degree programs. Among them are agriculture, architecture, geosciences, liberal arts, rural public health, science, veterinary medicine, and biomedical sciences. (As is the case with all the universities on this list, there are also colleges of business, education, and engineering.)

7. Louisiana State University
The Tigers of LSU have won championships in several sports. Students play football, basketball, baseball, softball, soccer, tennis, volleyball, and sand volleyball. Other sports are cross-country, gymnastics, swimming and diving, and track and field.

Colleges and schools at LSU are dedicated to agriculture, art and design, coast and environment, humanities and social sciences, mass communications, music and drama, science, and veterinary medicine.

8. Penn State
Penn State is nationally recognized for both academics and athletics. Its Nittany Lions sports programs have been extremely successful, with the football team winning several national championships. The university has programs for men and women in basketball, ice hockey, soccer, and volleyball. Other men’s sports are cross-country, fencing, field hockey, gymnastics, lacrosse, track and field, rugby, and wrestling.

Colleges within the university include agriculture, architecture, communications, earth and mineral sciences, health, information sciences and technology, liberal arts, nursing, and science.

These are the postsecondary schools that raise the most money with their sports programs. While the amount of revenue is not the only method of rating programs, it is an objective way to do it. Everyone has their favorites, which likely include colleges not mentioned in this review.

The key is to find a university that meets your academic needs, while also affording the opportunity to indulge in your passion for sports.

Athletics your passport to Health, scholarships and popularity

If you have made it to the college of your choice, you are halfway there. The rest of the journey lies in what you do on campus (and off campus) to make your experience truly rewarding! While academics are undoubtedly a significant portion of your college life, you should never miss out on athletics! It’s not just a sport – it’s an opportunity!

Scholarship Opportunities

It is an implied benefit most outclass athletes receive in compensation for their participation in sports – on local and national level. Most colleges and universities are willing to support your sports skills through your academic tenure while you play on their behalf. Athletic scholarships usually incorporate your sports, nutritional, accommodation and educational expenses along with a few extra bucks to pay for your stationary items. So you can pursue your professional studies without paying a dime out of your own pocket!

There are certain associations like the NCAA that are working to make life for student-athletes truly rewarding. This does not only include providing athletic scholarships but also involves complete healthcare and training facilities that help in grooming your sports strengths. At the same time, they also focus on your academic requirements in the form of academic counseling, tutoring, study help and so on and so forth.
Partial scholarship opportunities are also available for students who may exhibit promising potential but do not have a longstanding track record to support it. This means even if you are unable to get into the free zone, you can still avail partial relief from your college and university expenses.

Pricelessly Healthy

No sports can be played unless you have been declared fit for it. If you have made it to the athletic scholarships lists, you will have your school paying to keep you healthy! This includes your physical fitness trainers and nutritional experts working together to make sure you perform your best on the field. So when you get to the other side (graduate), you are healthier and more energetic than most of your fellow mates!

Admittedly, this means foregoing a lot of the eating (and drinking!) habits that you love. Nevertheless, there is no replacement for your health. In a few years time down the road, you would look back and be glad at the choices you made as a student-athlete.

Being Popular By Doing What You Love

And then there is the king (and queen) protocol most college and university level sports personalities receive when they have won the game! Most students (and teachers as well) remember your name. If you’ve made a spectacular achievement, it remains engraved on the “wall of fame” forever. There is so much to boost your self-confidence that when you step into the real world, you feel truly invincible! If you’ve got good grades along with your sports performances, most employers would be more than willing to offer you a job. You get the best of both worlds by doing what you love!

Sports Relieves Stress

It mostly comes with health and fitness, but it is nevertheless worthy of mention. Sports activities help in relieving stress. This is why despite their extremely busy schedules; student-athletes are able to get through tough times juggling two bowls of fire at the same time.

Indeed, most of the student-athletes who shared their stories put specific emphasis on their overstuffed schedules. Training for the sports and also keeping up with academics while your body screams for some rest can be quite challenging. If you are travelling to attend sports events, it gets even tougher to manage. Nevertheless, athletics helps in relieving stress. In the long run, student-athletes may come off in better shape than most “strictly-studies” personalities.

Extracurricular Activities That Impress Colleges

The competition for admittance to many colleges and universities is intense. There are simply more applicants than the spaces available in post-secondary degree programs.

Admissions officials consider numerous issues in deciding which students to select. Grade-point average, SAT and ACT scores, essays, and other factors are important. Some students overlook the value of including extracurricular activities on their applications.

Why Extracurricular Activities Matter

Many colleges look favorably on those who took part in activities outside the classroom during high school. These experiences offer opportunities to grow in ways that book learning does not provide.

You can become more well-rounded by getting involved in a wide range of endeavors. In addition to gaining knowledge and experience, you learn teamwork and social skills. You grow as a person as you develop patience, humility, and other attributes.

The extracurricular activities you choose demonstrate your interests. Admissions officials want to see that you are a social person who is passionate about something other than academics.

School Activities

The sorts of extracurricular activities available are numerous and varied. Among the most popular choices are high school sports like football, basketball, volleyball, track, baseball, and softball. Depending upon the region where you live, there could be hockey, soccer, tennis, lacrosse, gymnastics, and other types of sports teams.

Students who are more artistically inclined join bands, choirs, and other musical groups; take part in theatrical productions; or make art like paintings and sculptures. Some create yearbooks and work on student newspapers as writers, photographers, and editors.

Student clubs provide opportunities to pursue special interests with others. Common clubs are devoted to debate, speech, chess, math, film, language, and mock trials. There are also clubs related to sports and art, and others involving certain ethnic groups.

Having been in clubs shows admissions officials that you are a curious person with interests beyond the classroom. Involvement in student government, or planning and organizing groups like the prom committee, also makes an impression.

Off-Campus Activities

Colleges are interested in how applicants spent their time outside of high school. Part-time jobs are excellent opportunities to learn and gain skills. Even simple work, such as retail jobs, provide an education in many areas involving the business world and interpersonal communication. It is even better if you are able to find work related to the subjects you plan to study in college.

Another option is to serve as volunteer in the community. Many towns and cities have volunteer centers that offer a range of choices. You might be able to do something that not only helps others, but also is relevant to your academic pursuits. Homeless and domestic-violence shelters, hospitals, nursing homes, animal-rescue shelters, and other operations are frequently in need of unpaid help. You may be able to provide tutoring services, or assist a charitable organization in raising money.

Community clubs, teams, music ensembles, theater and dance groups, and church-based organizations are generally open to young people. They may give you a chance to meet, and learn from, local folks who are fascinated by some of the same things that intrigue you.

How to Find an Activity

Whether you are looking for an extracurricular activity at school, or a work or volunteer opportunity in the community, there are resources available to help in the search.

You can check print publications and bulletin boards, listen to local radio and television, visit websites, talk to teachers and counselors, go to a volunteer center, email the chamber of commerce, and look into church activities.

If you have a special interest, but cannot find an organization to join, consider starting your own group. Put up fliers, place notices in the student newspaper, and conduct other outreach efforts to find others with similar interests.

Explain Your Involvement

Do not just list your activities on the college application. Admissions officials are more interested in the depth of your involvement than the number of pursuits. Anyone can sign up for a lot of things, then have minimal participation.

Describe how you contributed, or made a difference, in your extracurricular efforts. Provide details about the things you did in organizations, jobs, and volunteer work. Describe what you learned, and the skills you obtained, from these experiences.

If you were elected club president, named team captain, or won an award for your community service, do not be bashful about it. Get letters of recommendation to include in your application packet.

Your record of extracurricular activities gives college admissions officials a glimpse into your character. How you spent your time outside the classroom during your high school years helps to illustrate the sort of person you are. Getting involved in activities helps you learn and grow, while also making you more likely to be accepted by the college you wish to attend.