By Lucas Chmielewski
It’s anything but junk food and empty calories for college athletes looking to perform at their peak.
Today’s ultra-competitive college environment requires banking every advantage you can get, and a nutritional diet in combination with a fitness regime is essential to generating the best results.
Now imagine being a competitive junior tennis player newly arrived at college, endlessly tempted by late-night dorm and party food, but with the added challenge of having Crohns Disease, requiring you to eat small healthy portions every few hours, while altogether avoiding so many foods that are not healthy to consume. Welcome to the world of college athlete Lucas Chmielewski!
Formerly a top-ranked player at La Canada High School and now a freshman at Occidental College in Eagle Rock, CA, Lucas has been playing tennis since the age of four, training locally with long-time coach Tomas Bubilek at iTennis Arroyo Seco Racquet Club. During his junior playing career, Lucas was fortunate to travel and compete throughout the U.S. and internationally, gaining a well-rounded perspective on dietary habits and options from around the world to manage his condition. “It’s really enlightening to see how food is purchased and prepared in countries other than the USA” Lucas says. “There’s so much more availability to fresh produce and non-processed foods which are much healthier for athletes, and in turn can result in better performance”.
Balancing his Chrons Disease with a tennis player’s elevated need for proper nutrition and high energy, Lucas regularly follows a strict diet regimen that includes lots of simple proteins like chicken, fish or pork, carbs in the form of rice or potatoes, and always a portion of veggies for essential vitamins. He specifically avoids consuming beef, eggs, gluten and dairy because of headaches, tiredness and overall sense of heaviness on court.
Before a workout or match Lucas typically eats a light meal, usually a small portion of chicken and rice. Meals cannot be heavy because they take too long to digest and decrease speed or reaction time. During a match Lucas consumes Gatorade gels, bananas and nut bars with dark chocolate, the latter providing a much-needed dose of replenishing sugar to maintain energy levels. Following or in between matches, Lucas would repeat the same menu as above as part of his program for nutritional restoration and recovery.
The bottom line? If you want to compete as a tennis player in the college ranks you’ll need every advantage you can get, avoiding all those collegiate temptations and focusing daily on a healthy regimen that pays dividends. Fuel for the body, as well as the mind, is an essential component to on-court success, and Lucas Chmielewski follows best practices on all fronts to compete at his peak!