It’s no secret that athletes must have good nutrition as part of their training program. When such small differences in speed, agility, endurance, and physicality make a huge difference between winning and losing, most athletes and coaches will admit that along with training, nutrition can really separate the best from those who are merely good. Whether professional athletes or amateur, peanuts can play an important part in powering athletes to compete.
For example, Donna S. Martin, EdS, RDN, LD, SNS, FAND, Director School Nutrition Program in Burke County Schools in Georgia, works with her high school athletics program to help feed the school’s athletes a nutritious after school snack. Martin said, “Our athletes eat a sandwich made out of peanut butter and jelly on two large graham crackers every day for after school snacks. I give them the peanut butter sandwich because they love the taste; the sandwiches are fairly high in calories that they need; and because they provide much needed protein for the athletes in an easy to eat and digest form.”
Young, growing high school athletes can require twice as many calories as an adult, depending on the sport, intensity, their age, and overall activity level. This means they need to eat foods that can provide enough calories, but the food also has to be packed with nutrition, since their nutrient needs may also be higher. Peanut butter can fit the bill in a tasty way for these competitors.
Athletes are also busy and on the go. Whether cycling long distances, playing through hours of practice, or running track and field, plus leading an active life off the field or course, athletes need to have portable food at the ready. Martin stresses that the shelf-stable PBJ graham cracker sandwiches she serves help provide safe, nutrient-rich food at any temperature, which might not be the case with many other protein foods. Peanut butter, peanuts, and ready to eat products made with them can help fill the gap between convenience and nutrition.
Marie Spano, MS, RD, CSCS, CSSD, author, sports dietitian, and sports nutritionist to professional sports teams says she recommends peanuts and peanut butter because they provide vitamin E and magnesium. “Many people fall short on both and peanut butter is a good source of vitamin E intake and good source of magnesium. In particular magnesium is necessary for muscle function,” said Spano. She also highlights the versatility of peanut butter with her clients, noting it can be added to breakfast, lunch, snacks, shakes and dinner to improve the nutritional value of their meals. “Plus, peanut butter contributes great taste.”
Nutritious, versatile, affordable, and delicious – peanuts and peanut butter are the total package when it comes to providing more power in each bite. “I think peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are the perfect food for athletes!” said Martin. We couldn’t agree with her more.
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