Sample Nutrition and Hydration

Exerpts of the Marching Band Member Wellness program

Immune-boosting Foods

Many of the following foods contain vitamins A,C,E as well as iron and zinc and can help to eliminate free radicals and toxins in the body (which lead to immune system breakdown.)  A weakened immune system leading to bouts of sickness is a serious concern for any member of a large marching band, where members are frequently grouped together tightly and may also share instruments.  While chocolate, excess sugar and fats, alcohol, lack of sleep and stress (think finals week) are known to have negative effects on the immune system, there are also several foods listed below that help to increase a person’s immune response:

Foods that can strengthen the immune system

  • Lean beef
  • Yogurt (contains probiotics)
  • Omega -3 essential free fatty acids (flax, fish, almonds, olive oil)
  • Whole Grains
  • Orange Juice, Mango Juice, Green Tea (contains polyphenols)
  • Strawberries, kiwi, cantaloupe, blueberries
  • Broccoli, carrots, tomatoes, spinach
  • Red & orange bell peppers, mushrooms, garlic

Foods and the Glycemic Index (GI) Scale

Another consideration often coming into play with carbohydrates is the glycemic index (GI) scale of foods.  This index is simply a measurement of how quickly the food will increase your blood sugar, which indicates how efficiently energy can be supplied.  For example: High GI foods typically have a Glycemic Index of near 85 or above.  These foods (often snacks) help to give a quick energy boost after periods of depletion, yet often cause a rapid increase in blood sugar (followed by an insulin spike) that results in a “crash” afterwards when they are ingested by themselves.  Excessive intake of High GI foods can create insulin insensitivity and cause a surplus of glucose (blood sugar) to be stored as fat.

Example High GI Foods:

Candy, crackers, pretzels, doughnuts, raisins, carrots, potatoes, instant rice, French bread, enriched white bread, instant white rice, corn flakes, honey, syrup, sports drinks, pineapples (in syrup), cantaloupe, watermelon

Hydration Guidelines

  • Water Recommendations: (from Institute of Medicine): 130 oz. a day for males, 95 oz. a day for females
  • Rule of thumb: 1 liter for every 1000 calories of expenditure - but this doesn’t include sweat losses
  • Drink 20 oz. water for every pound of body weight lost through sweat after a competition period or practice
  • Fruits and veggies with high water content (such as watermelon, bananas, pineapples, plums, strawberries, cucumbers, tomatoes, celery, broccoli, carrots, etc.) can help meet these recommendations

Body Composition

The composition of a marching band member’s body is important for multiple reasons.  Because muscle is more structurally dense than fat, excess weight in the form of fat can negatively impact agility, cardiorespiratory endurance, and the body’s thermal regulation.  A lower body surface to body weight ratio (m2 to kg) becomes less favorable for releasing heat.  Increased layering of subcutaneous fat provides an insulated barrier between skin and deep-lying tissues, theoretically preventing the transfer of heat from the muscles to the skin.  Carrying unnecessary body weight also provides more stress on joints. Excess abdominal fat located in the torso increases health risks and is believed to place extra stress on the heart and liver. Increasing lean muscle mass, however, is known to help improve posture and provide several movement advantages, while also decreasing the risk for injuries (ex: as in the case of lower leg muscles functioning as shock absorbers).  Increasing lean muscle leads to a higher metabolism, which at the same time can help to keep more fat mass off in conjunction.  More muscle is also likely to generate more heat under clothing when in cold weather environments!


NWS windchill