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Power Eating

You've probably heard it 100 times: If you want to look, feel and perform your best, you have to eat right and exercise.

Sure, maintaining a balanced diet will help you stay fit, but what about when you need to put your performance level over the top? Put away the vitamins, protein powders and energy drinks, and pick up a few of these foods before your next competition.

A heart-healthy whole grain, oatmeal will fill you up without adding empty calories to your waistline. Plus, it's packed full of good carbohydrates, which are sure to boost your energy before the big match. Add low-fat milk to a bowl of oatmeal and microwave it for a healthy power breakfast.

Replace your afternoon snack of chips or cookies with yogurt to get a lasting boost of strength. Rich in calcium, yogurt provides a much-needed metabolism spike to keep athletes at the top of their game.

Packed with beta-carotene, vitamins C and E, and iron, sweet potatoes have properties that aid muscle recovery and increase oxygen production. Bake one in the oven, or for a special treat, make baked sweet potato fries. Just cut them into slices, drizzle with olive oil and salt, and bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees.

Eating salmon is a great way to boost your protein levels without tacking on the fat calories found in hamburger and other types of red meat. Plus, salmon has omega-3 fatty acids, which reduce your risk of heart disease. Add salmon to your diet by baking, grilling or microwaving it with your favorite seasoning.

These bite-sized fruits are chock-full of energy-boosting nutrients and disease-fighting antioxidants. Containing a healthy balance of carbohydrates and fiber, most berries will sustain your energy levels to keep you in the game long after your opponents have fizzled out.

– Megan Pacella