You Are What You Eat: Comparing the Diets of Students vs Student Athletes

Isaiah Saint-Hilaire
Staff Writer


PC: Andrew Salmon

When going into college, many students are worried about the infamous freshman 15. This is a phenomenon in which they gain 15 pounds during their first year as a student. They’re afraid that because they’re not at home, they may eat everything from the cafeteria. Or that they may be so busy with studying and other commitments that they will not eat enough.

Either way, college students have had their struggles with developing healthy eating habits. On the other hand, athletes have had opportunities to develop a nutritional diet due to their trainers and their motivation to stay healthy and bring championships to UNCG.

When asked about his caloric intake, Francis Alonso, star basketball player and one of the most recognizable athletes on campus, responded by saying, “It’s funny you ask, I’ve been looking to change my diet dramatically this year to help me play better and feel healthier. I’ve been trying to change my body for the past two years, and the food I eat every day is very important. Coach Miller and others put me on a diet, and I received it from Whole Foods.”

“It’s basically organic. There are always fruit and veggies, and chicken is alternated. It’s something that helps a lot because you’re avoiding some stuff you could find at the cafeteria; it’s difficult when you’re passing by and you see that food, but setting a diet and a routine helps because you’re eating the food you have on the plate.”  

According to Alonso, it seems to be easier when you have people that are constantly telling you what to eat and how often to eat it. The difficulty lies when you are alone and find yourself near food that you know will not benefit you in a healthy way.

“Four days a week, the training staff helps me with my diet. 500 calories per plate is what I consume, and all the calories that are in snacks such as cereal bars and other snacks help me be healthy. For breakfast, I eat fruit, yogurt, a protein shake and a cereal bar. Orange juice is good because it has a partial percentage of fruit, as well.” Francis has made it clear that without the help of his trainers and coaches, it would be more difficult for him to maintain a healthy lifestyle because temptation is everywhere.

2900-3000 is UNCG Baseball player Trey Kissack’s caloric intake, and he tries to maintain that so he doesn’t abuse his health. “Coach doesn’t tell us what not to eat, but we kind of know what not to eat. Athletes don’t meal prep that much because of the temptations. It’s not easy but we have to fight. All I drink is water and protein shakes but Gatorade during games is good, too.”

But that wasn’t always the case. Trey used to have a three-to-four sodas-per-day habit, and it took a toll on both his health and his ability on the field.

“It’s easy for me to cut out sugary drinks during the day, but at night I crave them. I would make myself chug water instead. Playing high school football, I cramped up a lot due to the sodas and realized I had to end that addiction.” Kissack finally kicked that habit his freshman year at a junior college.            

Kissack’s teammate Chase Bishop’s caloric intake is 3000-3500 a day, and his typical breakfast consists of oatmeal and eggs. For lunch, he likes grilled chicken and vegetables, and for dinner, he consumes pasta and vegetables.

“I try to stay away from heavy carbs, and I only drink water and Gatorade. If I cheat, I’m going to go for a brownie or some ice cream.” His caloric intake was very important to him because he wants to ensure that he follows a relatively healthy diet. He stays away from heavy carbs because they can develop into fat cells over time if too much carbohydrates are consumed.

Soccer player Payne Andres is another athlete who follows his diet closely. “I do not drink any soda or anything like that. For breakfast, I typically eat yogurt with granola, cranberry and bananas, eggs for protein. Sandwiches and fruit or milk on the side. Chicken or pasta for lunch is what helps me go about my day, and for dinner, I typically eat chicken and rice to get my carbs and protein.”

“I usually drink water, and after training I usually have a protein shake. I usually don’t have sugar or fried foods before games because it gets me very tired. Every once and awhile I’ll have some cake but nothing big.” Payne has a good grasp of what his diet consists of, but sometimes there are cheat days and he enjoys his cake.

When comparing athletes’ diets to non-athletes’ diets, Paul, who is not a student-athlete, had a few words to say.

“My caloric intake is probably around 3500-4000 a day. I don’t keep track too much because I honestly don’t worry about it. I’m a skinny guy, and I’m not worried about putting on too much unnecessary weight. I usually eat a lot of frozen foods and pizza. I love pizza.” Paul didn’t hesitate to talk about his frozen food issue, yet he doesn’t really care about nutritious foods. It seems like he has a high metabolism to think for that.

Surprisingly, when comparing the two groups of students, athletes and non-athletes don’t see too much of a difference in caloric intake, but athletes tend to eat higher quality foods and follow stricter diets so they can be more successful during competitions.

Categories: Sports

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