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Article Type: Blog

Nutrition and Hydration Tips for UCF Football Fans

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Whether you’re rooting for the Black and Gold right here in Orlando or following the Knights across the country for a big away game, having a game plan for nutrition and hydration will help you stay ready to cheer on your hometown team.

Like most celebrations, the majority of the food and beverage options at Knights games and tailgate parties might not be part of your healthy diet. And eating healthfully while traveling to their away games can be challenging, too. 

Traveling can lead to some pitfalls when it comes to eating healthy. The stress of airports and highways, the lack of familiarity with local dining options and the temptations of tailgating and concession stand foods can all lead to less-than-healthy food choices. 

However, with a little research, discipline and planning, you can stay healthy and hydrated as you support the Knights — even at away games across the country.

3 Ways Knights Fans Can Eat Healthier While Traveling

Sherri Flynt, MPH, RD, LD, of the AdventHealth Center for Nutritional Excellence recommends a few tips for keeping your diet on track: research food options in the area, set realistic goals and be smart about hydration.

Research Food Items in the Area

Sherri says to take time during your flight to check out some of the dining options in the area you are visiting. Many restaurant websites now let you see not only the entire menu but also the ingredient lists and nutritional content of each item, which is helpful if you’re tracking macronutrients. 

Spend some time planning where and what you want to eat while visiting the city where the Knights are playing. One of the extra benefits of the Knights playing in the American Athletic Conference is that they’ll visit plenty of major cities across the country for away games. Cities like New Orleans, Philadelphia, and Houston (to name a few) have some great culinary options. Pick which places you want to eat ahead of time to help maintain your healthy lifestyle.

Armed with this local food option research, you’ll be less likely to succumb to the convenience of fast food or other unhealthy options while on the road. It’s also a great tool to help fans make better decisions at chain restaurants in their everyday lives. Knowing the healthy options available to you beforehand can make navigating menus much less daunting.

Explore Healthy Options at the Game, Too

Don’t be afraid to explore the concourse at the game, too. Many stadiums are offering fresh and healthy dining options at sporting events. 

Sherri recommends being patient and exploring your options before you settle on the first slice of pizza you see. Walk around and take inventory of your options before making your dining decisions. “You’re allowed to have a salad at the ball game,” she says enthusiastically.

Set Realistic Meal Goals for Gameday

Just like the holidays, Knights football games come with tailgate parties that can offer temptation at every turn. Sherri warns against setting goals that are unrealistic. 

“Instead of saying you’re not going to have any pumpkin pie with thanksgiving dinner, limit your dinner rolls and skip the second helping of mashed potatoes to save room for that slice of pie,” she recommends. 

Those same holiday meal trade-offs can be made with gameday foods. Balance your fried foods with a serving of fresh fruit or skip the ranch on top of your barbecued foods. Try to incorporate lower-fat condiments such as mustard, hot sauce and vinegar. The Knights will appreciate all that healthy energy you have as you cheer them on to victory.

Water Is You Key to Victory

Sherri stresses the importance of smart hydration choices while rooting on the Knights as well. Avoid sugary sodas and sports drinks on game days. Not only does the sugar have unwanted empty calories, but it can also negatively impact your body’s ability to absorb water, leading to dehydration. 

Especially during the hot and humid weather at Knights home games, remember to drink water, because it’s not just muscle cramps Knights fans have to worry about with dehydration. 

“The brain is mostly water and is one of the first parts of the body affected by dehydration,” Sherri says. “A dehydrated brain can struggle with critical thinking, problem-solving and quick decisions.” 

Bring Your Water Bottle Along

Portable water bottles are a great option to help avoid the soda fountain, and with the surge in bottle-filling stations in public places, they are as convenient as they are economical and environmentally friendly. Having a hydration game plan is a win-win for the Knights, and you.

Eat Your Water, Too

Eating fresh fruit can be a great way to stay hydrated, as well. Tailgating coolers packed with fresh fruit you a healthy and hydrating snack option. Many fruits, including famous Florida citrus, naturally hydrate you. 

The benefits don’t stop there: Sherri recommends flavoring your water with fresh fruits like strawberry, kiwi, citrus or cucumber. The bright fruit flavors will quench your thirst and help you avoid sugary sodas and sports drinks. 

Travel Considerations for Different Climates 

Hydration can play a significant role in areas of everyday life that may not seem so obvious. Air travel can disrupt your normal water consumption. As you follow the Knights across the country, the microclimate of the plane and the macroclimate of the destination are factors to consider. 

Not only have the new travel safety regulations made it more difficult to bring your own water supply on a plane, the high altitude and low humidity can also contribute to dehydration. Dehydration could cause problems for your immune system when surrounded by all those germs on a crowded flight. Staying hydrated helps keep your mucous membranes moist enough to catch all those foreign pathogens floating around the plane’s cabin.   

Pay close attention to the climate of the area you visit as well. While you may be well-versed in dealing with heat and humidity, you may be less aware of factors other climates present, including issues like: 

  • Dry, cold air can dry out your skin
  • High-altitude environments can require up to an extra liter of water per day
  • In desert climates, the drastic shifts from hot days to near-freezing nights challenge hydration

Staying Healthy Long After Becoming Alumni

Adjusting your diet and exercise routines as you grow older is a great way to stay healthy as you transition from students to alumni. Sherri says to pay attention to the cues from your body. 

“As you enter your 30s, be aware of a loss of muscle mass, a decrease in physical activity and other factors that affect your metabolism.” 

Sherri says to adjust your calorie, fat, protein and carbohydrate consumption to levels that make sense for your lifestyle — something that the AdventHealth Center for Nutritional Excellence can help you with. The Center can help Knights fans design nutritional plans that fit their needs at any age and any stage of life. Learn more about our programs or contact us today.

With a little research and some good decision-making, you can ensure you're getting the proper nutrition and hydration necessary to carry you through a full day — and a lifetime — of cheering on the Knights.
 

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