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Why Nutrition Is Key for Recovery in Athletes and Healthcare

Photo: Courtesy of Will Stitt

Putting in the right training is key to success in any industry, including when you’re a professional athlete.

But retired NFL player Brandon Marshall is raising awareness about the fact that without the foundation of proper nutrition, one can only go so far in their achievements.

“It’s a secret weapon in the pro leagues, whether it’s NBA, MLB, NFL — you’d be shocked at how many guys don’t hone in on their nutrition,” said Marshall, 36. 

Marshall is a former wide receiver for teams including the Miami Dolphins, the New York  Giants, the Seattle Seahawks, and the Denver Broncos. He founded House of Athlete, a compound that includes an exercise facility with equipment and classes, and sells supplements and apparel to help athletes reach their full potential.

“If we don’t eat right, we’re talking about almost a 10 percent decrease in performance, so, it’s huge,” Marshall said. “All I’ve done is taken my experience of 13 years in the NFL and infused that into House of Athlete. My goal is to teach people how to approach the plate properly.”

Prioritizing nutrition 

“What is a healthy carb, a healthy fat, a healthy protein?” said Marshall, describing the three macronutrients from food. “A lot of times we get caught up in the fads and the trends, and we lose sight of just getting the fundamentals.” 

Marshall puts these tenets into play when building any meal, such as breakfast. He said a typical first meal of the day may include an omelet with veggies.

Reaching for healthy foods helps keep inflammation at bay, as well as the diseases it can contribute to, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, liver disease, and certain cancers, he said, echoing information from sources including the Cleveland Clinic and Harvard University. A balanced, nutritious diet also has the potential to aid sleep and increase energy.

While it’s possible to get all the nutrients your body needs to thrive, it may not be realistic for everyone. That’s where supplements come in, especially when it comes to aiding recovery in athletes. 

Paying it forward

Speaking of recovery, athletes aren’t the only ones who can benefit from having access to and an understanding of nutrition.

Marshall is collaborating with Fuel the Frontlines through his nonprofit, Project 375, to provide 20,000 healthcare workers in over 100 community hospitals with products and services that promote nutrition and wellness. Other athletes including former NFL defensive lineman Julius Peppers, U.S. Women’s National Team soccer player Ashlyn Harris, and NFL quarterback Cam Newton are also part of the initiative.

“The idea of House of Athlete is that we give the general population access to the services and products and methods that were always held for the elite pro athletes,” Marshall explained. “And when you look at the pro athlete, you’ve got to start with recovery: How did LeBron James or Tom Brady go from one practice to the next, from one game to the next? It’s all in recovery.”

Healthcare workers, who are often on their feet for 12-plus hours and are working in understaffed institutions, also need help in this way. 

“When you look in our hospitals at nurses, doctors, and frontline workers, [we realized] it was critical for all of us to figure out a way to help them recover,” Marshall said.

By offering food, supplements, and tools, such as compression boots to relieve liquid retention in the legs and feet from several hours of standing, Marshall’s team has been able to do just that.

“We felt like that was our opportunity to really give the athletes’ methods around recovery for our caregivers,” Marshall said.

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