Athletes perform with many diets

Kyla Barnett, Features Editor

Athletes use many different diets, including calorie monitoring and using certain foods to affect their performance in and out of season. 

For example, the Ketogenic diet is a high fat, low carbohydrate, and adequate protein diet. Junior cross country and track runner, Zach Paquette follows both a keto and gluten-free diet for medical reasons as well as personal preference.

“I am gluten intolerant, and after being an athlete and…  finding that I really like fitness, I’ve adopted a kind of a keto diet,” Paquette said. “I do a little bit higher protein because I run and I lift, but it works pretty well with the gluten intolerance because carbs are low.”

Other athletes follow meatless or plant-based diets, some eating fish and no other meat (pescatarian), no meat at all (vegetarian) or even deciding not to eat any animal products or byproducts at all (vegan). Sophomore Max Bowyer and senior Matthew Pickering, both cross country and track runners, follow a form of plant-based diet with Bowyer being pescatarian and Pickering being vegan.

Bowyer grew up in a vegetarian and pescatarian household and continues to eat pescatarian for a few reasons.

“My mom’s always been vegetarian. Now she’s vegan, but since I was born, I’ve been a vegetarian or pescatarian,” Bowyer said. “But, I mean, she doesn’t really care what I eat so it’s still my choice but for one [I’m pescatarian] probably because I run and it’s pretty healthy.”

Pickering made the change to a plant-based diet after suffering from medical issues. He was originally put on a paleo diet but found it didn’t help before switching to his current diet back in 2017.

“Freshman year towards the end of cross [country season] after having some breathing problems that sort of propelled into the winter season… my mom eventually found this plant-based diet. [I] went on that in [it] may have been 2017 and it really cleared everything,” Pickering said. “Ever since then I’ve just stuck with it.”

Some athletes get a lot of support at home with their diet, while others make their dietary changes alone. This leads to a lot of time planning meals and cooking separate dishes.

“It results in a lot more time being put towards planning. I have to do all my meal planning over the weekends for the week,” Paquette said. “Oftentimes I can’t eat what my family’s eating for dinner. I’d say it’s a lot more time put into thinking about my nutrition.”

Other athletes live in a household with others who have the same diet as them, like Bowyer and Pickering.

“[I get] A lot [of support]. My parents… are also plant-based,” Pickering said. “So, that is [the] diet… in the house… everything that is made in our house is plant-based.”

All of these athletes agree that their diet contributes to their performance tremendously.

“Anytime you put better fuel into your body, you’re going to get better results,” Paquette said. “And I can tell that I feel better too.”

No matter what diet athletes have, when they focus on what they are putting into their body and make positive changes to their diet, their physical health will improve tremendously.

“It’s whatever works for you. There’s no one size fits all. Just give it a try, maybe slowly just sort of substitute things in and out of your diet,” Pickering said. “That’s the main thing you just have to find what works for you.”