Pro athletes share tips on eating for energy

- When you're playing 82 games a season, on the road, practicing hours a day, eating well isn't easy.

So, it's Keke Lyles's job as Executive Director of Player Performance to show the Atlanta Hawks how to use food to fuel their game.

"Most of these guys are young, so they don't have great eating habits," Lyles says.  "They love sweets, they love candy."

At the beginning of each season, Lyles and his team sit down with every place and create a personalized eating plan.

"For our players, sometimes the more simple it is, the better it is," Lyles says.

26-year old forward Mike Muscala is in his 5th year with the Hawks, and he says eating on the go is sometimes challenging.

"It's hard to go grocery shopping for yourself during the season when you land at 2 a.m., and you have a game the next night, and you fly out again for another 3-game road trip," Muscala says.

So, at the Hawks' new Brookhaven practice facility, Lyles, and his team create a personalized eating plan for each player.

They do the nutritional math, and chefs cook the meals.

"They just eat what's in front of them, and it makes it easier for them," Lyles says.

Muscala says the one thing he's learned is the importance of being consistent with his eating.

"Sometimes when I try to eat super healthy, I would skip out on certain meals because they weren't healthy enough, but I've found it's most important to stay consistent and eat something," he explains. "I eat at 5 meals throughout the day, rather than 2 or 3 big ones."

So, what do the Hawks eat?

"We try to keep it very clean," Lyles says. "We usually have some sort of fish, and other protein whether it's a beef or chicken."

They're big on vegetables and salads, and cut out most processed foods.

Lyles says they try to eat a variety of foods to keep players from getting bored by eating the same thing.

Muscala says he feels better, on and off the court.

"That is the biggest thing I've realized, not just from playing basketball, but every day, I get up in the morning with energy on an off day," he says.  "When you are eating healthier, you just feel like you have more energy."

To eat like a Hawk, Lyles says to start with small, easy steps, like eating more fresh food, and less processed food.

"It can be very overwhelming, but it can also be simple," he says. "If you just think, 'What is clean, what is not processed? What is coming out of the earth, that you can just grab and eat?'"

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