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Leading Medicine Magazine, Vol 7, No 1 - 2013

An active lifestyle calls for active eating choices by denny angelle e didn’t plan it that way, but Houston Texans running back Arian Foster touched off a firestorm in pro football circles this past summer when he announced his decision to pursue a largely vegan diet. It wasn’t a snap decision on his part. Foster says this was an idea that had been gestating since he was in high school. “Back then, I saw a documentary that sort of pushed me toward getting more aware about protein, what your body needs and what it doesn’t need,” Foster says. “I didn’t act on it then, but, as I looked more and more into it, I decided finally that I could make the switch.” Foster has eliminated most of the meat from his diet, although he occasionally includes chicken. He consulted doctors and dietitians, but he also listened to his body: Foster knew how a big meal with meat made him feel. “My body was telling me all the time — when I would eat something that made me feel sluggish,” Foster explains. “I felt in my heart of hearts that food isn’t supposed to do that. It’s supposed to make you feel good.” Foster’s teammate on the Houston Texans, quarterback Matt Schaub, feels the same way. “At the NFL level, our bodies are how we make our living. What you put in is what you get out. And I like to put in food that helps me feel the best and get my best performance,” he says. Schaub says over the years, as he progressed through college and into pro football, he looked around and saw what habits worked for veteran players. He sketched out his own personal playbook on what foods kept him in peak shape. “For me, it’s a lot of fruit and a lot of vegetables. I keep them as part of every one of my meals,” Schaub says. “I enjoy chicken, seafood and a little steak every once in a while. But I like to keep everything as lean as I can.” That lesson is echoed by Jessica Goswitz, Rice University’s senior basketball guard. A kinesiology major, Jessica recognizes that many people, no matter their exact diet, have a greater general awareness of the beneficial foods versus the foods that aren’t so great for you. She feels a few minor details escape many people, though, when the food is hot and fresh and piled up ready to eat. “Many think that pasta is the best for adding carbs, especially before an athletic event,” she says, “but our bodies aren’t made to break down pasta. They can more efficiently break down vegetables, which may not have as many carbs as pasta, but have more beneficial nutrients.” Everywhere she goes, Jessica encounters catered meals but she resists the temptation to load her plate with anything but a pile of vegetables before a game. “Don’t get me wrong, I like my meat too much to ever give it up altogether,” she laughs. “But I try to stick with the basics, and they always work for me.” Veteran long-distance runner Don Ruggles has an elaborate routine to help him prepare for a marathon, or an even longer run. His cardinal rule is direct: “I don’t put any garbage in my body for six hours before a long run,” he says. “No fast food — there are some things I eat that always cause severe consequences while running.” He will eat a small amount of pasta or salmon the night before a long run, then will supplement during the run with easy-todigest sports gels and beans to give him an extra boost of energy. “My favorite pre-race food is a banana, because it’s easy to digest,” Ruggles continues. “Or I might have a power bar or the occasional bagel. You want to be able to focus on the run, and only the run.” Long before he received a heart transplant, golfer Brian Gilliam and his family stopped using salt in cooking. “We became very used to it, and, after a little adjustment, we didn’t even notice it was missing,” he says. “When we eat out, I can immediately taste the salt.” Gilliam developed diabetes as an offshoot of his heart disease, so he’s very careful about his diet. He likes venison — he’s an avid hunter — because it is lean and healthier than other red meats. So our panel of athletes agree: watch your carbs, balance your dietary choices, and know that fruits and vegetables are MVPs for any diet. Stay hydrated and keep those pre-sport meals light and easy to digest. Anything else? Arian Foster: “Stick with what you know is right for you, no matter what other people tell you,” he says. “People are going to try and convince you their way is the best way, but always stay true to yourself.” n Leading Medicine • Volume 7, Number 1 13 i n a d d i t i o n CHANGE YOUR DIET, CHANGE YOUR LIFE H


Leading Medicine Magazine, Vol 7, No 1 - 2013
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