Nutrition for Fencers

This article by Ann Morris on basic nutrition requirements was posted in the March, 1997 TFA Newsletter.

EN GARDE! MAN DOES NOT LIVE BY BREAD ALONE... and neither does woman. If you want to be fit for fencing, you not only need to tone up your body by exercise but also to give it a diet that will fuel it well for the work it has to do. There are six essentials that should be present in your diet every day if you want to feel your best and to be able to do your best on the fencing strip.

The six essential elements of good nutrition are: Water, Vitamins, Minerals, Carbohydrates, Fats, and Proteins.

Approximately, 40 to 60 per cent of your body weight is water and muscle is composed of about 70 per cent water. This should tell you that you need a lot of water to maintain your body properly The average individual should have 8 to 10 glasses (8 ounces) of water a day. If you are exercising a lot, you may need more. To get the other five essential elements of nutrition, we go to the ever popular "food pyramid."

The base of the pyramid is comprised of bran, rice, cereal, andpasta. You need 6 to 11 servings a day from this food group. This may sound like a lot but, for example, one slice of bread or 1/2 cup of rice or 1 & 1/4 cup of dry cereal counts as one serving.

The next level up on the pyramid is the fruit and vegetable area.

It is recommended that you have 2 to 4 servings of fruit and 3 to 5 servings of vegetables each day. You can get your fruit in the form of juice (not to be confused with the many fruit drinks on the market which are frequently no more than 10 per cent real fruit juice) as well as from fruit flesh. Be sure to get a variety of vegetables. Having 3 to five servings of potatoes doesn't cut it, kids. You need those dark green and yellow things too.

Now we come to the dairy and meat portion of our pyramid. Dairy products include milk, yogurt and cheese. Only 2 to 3 servings per day is necessary from this group. One 8 ounce glass of milk, 8 ounces of yogurt, or 1 ounce of cheese is a serving. The Meat group is made up of meat (beef, lamb, pork, etc.), poultry, fish, dry beans, eggs, and nuts. Again, you only need 2 to 3 servings daily. This is where most of us are going to go over what we really need. A serving here is only 2 ounces.

The last and what many of us (especially the chocoholics among us) consider the fun level is the tip of the pyramid, which is the Fats, Oils and Sweets food group. The advice on this one is "use sparingly," darn it. Eating a whole box of Girl Scout Thin Mints in one day is a "no-no." You do need some fat in your diet but you'll get most, if not all, of what you need daily from the other foods on the pyramid.

"What about calories?" you ask. Well, the specific caloric intake you should have depends on your age, sex, build, and the amount of exercising you do. I would suggest that you check out the local library or bookstore or surf the net to get this information.

The way you get your calories makes a difference. The AmericanHeart Association recommends that the average person get 50 per cent of his calories from carbohydrates, 30 per cent from fat, and 20 per cent from protein.

If you are exercising consistently, it is recommended that you get 65 per cent of your calories from carbohydrates, ten per cent from fat, and 25 per cent from protein. (For fencers in training for competition there is good news and bad news. The bad news is that they should definitely try to meet the guidelines for those who exercise consistently. This means cutting out as much of the tip of the food pyramid and eat lean meats and stick with skim milk and other nonfat milk products. The good news is that they can have a lot of pasta with red sauce.)

My sources for this nutrition information were WORLDGUIDE NUTRITION, THE NUTRITION ALMANAC by Lavon J. Dunn, and OHIO DISTINCTIVE SOFTWARE'S MENU PLANNER.

This article by Ann Morris on the benefits of purple grape juice appeared in the July, 1997 issue of the TFA Newsletter.


You may have heard these words uttered by Bela Lugosi in his roleas Dracula. The vampire count's drink of choice was somewhat less appetizing than a nice glass of wine and if offered his favorite beverage, most, if not all, of us would have to decline. Some of us have reason to pass on the offer of the wine as well and the following information may prove useful for those who are in that category.

The merits of drinking a glass or two of red wine a day have been touted in the past few years. There are substances in red wine that are thought to be beneficial to the heart by reducing the stickiness of bloodclotting platelets which can clog the arteries. These substances are called flavanoids (doesn't sound real, does it?) and are found in the skins, stems and seeds of grapes.

In a recent study at the University of Wisconsin, results showed that people who drank multiple glasses of purple grape juice instead of red wine, obtained the same anti-clogging benefits as red wine drinkers. While there is still more research to be done to determine if flavanoids are definitely the agents that provide the anti-clogging benefits to the arteries of the heart, current findings look good.

Purple grape juice could be an alternative to red wine for those who choose not to, or for health reasons cannot, consume alcohol. It also would provide more nutritional value to your diet than red wine would. So, pour yourself a goblet of purple grape juice and toast to a healthy heart.

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