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I recently got the chance to visit three colleges that have excellent athletics programs: the University of Texas at Austin, Texas A&M, and the University of Florida (Gators).

One of the things I enjoyed the most was eating at each athletes’ dining hall (they actually have cool names, like “TANC” Texas Athletics Nutrition, and A&M’s  Slocum Nutrition Center).

Did you know that there is NOT a single soft drink to be found in these athletes’ cafeterias?

The beverage options include water, juices, teas, and sports beverages. Smoothies are typical. There isn’t a Coke in sight, even though the other dining halls on campus do have them!

We know that these are highly competitive athletics programs, that each athlete there was chosen based on his or her athletic accomplishments during high school, and that extraordinary performance is expected of them during their college years.

Therefore, what does this tell us about how soft drinks affect an athlete’s performance?  

We have been hearing “soft drinks aren’t good for you” for quite a while, but just how bad are they really? It’s not just a question of added sugars and unwanted weight gain, soft drinks are infamous for other reasons!

Problems that soft drinks can cause

  • They block your body’s absorption of nutrients (so you may not get the most out of the healthy stuff you do eat)
  • Make you feel bloated, affecting your strength, speed, precision, and reaction time
  • Reduce the quality of your sleep, which you know is super important for athletes
  • Contribute to dehydration
  • Increase your cravings for more sugary food and beverages

How to stay hydrated even if you don’t like to drink water

  1. Drink alternatives to soft drinks, like non-caffeinated, non-sugary tea
  2. Combine water and hydration beverages optimally
  3. Set timers to drink water at strategic times
  4. Buy a motivational water bottle
  5. Stick reminder-post it notes in different rooms, in your car, locker, backpack, etc.
  6. Use an app to track your intake
  7. Have a hydration challenge with your teammates and coach with a cool prize

You can get faster, stronger, recover quickly, and boost your athletic performance by harnessing the power of nutrition.

I used to say that Nutrition is the secret weapon that athletes are using to perform at the top of their game. But honestly, is it still a “secret”?

Evidently not! The Power of Nutrition is under your very nose, so make the most of it to be the best athlete you can be!