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MSU Football Players' Diets Designed to Maximize Performance

The Missouri State Bears football team will play its second home game this weekend against Western Illinois. But while players concern themselves with scoring touchdowns and gaining yardage during the game, off the field, they work with trainers to develop performance maximizing diets. KSMU’s Brett Moser spoke with nutrition experts to find out more about the importance of the foods players eat.

During the height of Michael Phelps’ Olympic competition, the swimming star consumed a reported 12,000 calories per day. Likewise, cyclist Christian Vande Velde, winner of the “Tour of Missouri,” reportedly took in 400 calories an hour during the race.

But the amount and type of nutrients needed for Missouri State football players differs from the needs of endurance athletes. Rather than using energy over a prolonged period, football players need to build mass and be able to execute short bursts of energy.

MSU athletic trainer Steve Sawchak oversees the dietary requirements of the team. He encourages players to focus on diet throughout the season, but most importantly in preseason.

That means players eat lots of lean meats like lean beef and turkey as well as wheats and vegetables high in carbohydrates. Sawchak says that during training camp, the players burn an extraordinary amount of calories

But when the regular season begins, he says the players are in control of what they eat. Before game time, Sawchak says what players eat is extremely important to their performance.

Deborah Piland is a dietetics professor at MSU. She says complex carbohydrates are preferred over simple sugars during game time.

Piland adds that all athletes should avoid adding new foods to their diets right before game time.

I’m Brett Moser, for KSMU News.