College Player Spotlights Health & Nutrition Tips for Players

Nutrition Tips for Youth Players from Amalya Johnson, Defender for Columbia

Amalya Johnson, a defender for Columbia University, discusses how she has benefited from the vegan diet as an athlete and shares three vegan nutrition tips.

By Terry Jacoby, FUEL Soccer Contributor

Amalya Johnson, who started every game for Columbia University in her rookie season and earned All-Ivy League honorable mention, is serious about taking care of her body and eating healthy.

She’s “vegan serious.”

“I became vegan about a year ago,” she said. “And I decided to do it because soccer is one of the most important things in my life and in order to be a good soccer player and a good athlete, you have to eat right. So I thought the best way to eat right is to become a vegan.”

Vegans don’t eat any animal products, such as meat, fish, eggs or dairy.

“It was a gradual transition for me,” she said. “I spent a year trying out different diets and plans. Through my research, I decided that being vegan was the best way to conserve resources and it doesn’t feel restrictive at all to me. I find that I have more energy and just feel better overall.”

Johnson helped lead NJ Stallions Dynamite to three consecutive US Youth Soccer New Jersey State Cup titles. She also was called into the U.S. Under-18 National Team and participated in a week-long training camp in May 2016.

“I have always been very specific about what I eat the night before a game or practice,” she said. “Eating a lot of fruit and vegetables has helped me perform better on the soccer field.”

A dynamic player on the pitch, Johnson was the captain, MVP and top goal scorer for the Montclair (NJ) Mounties in her senior season of high school. She was also named the All-Super Essex Conference Player of the Year and to the All-State Second Team.

Three Nutrition Tips

  1. Eat three meals. Eating healthy the entire day is the key to feeling healthy. For breakfast, Johnson has oatmeal with peanut butter and a banana. For lunch, she will have a salad or wrap with humus, carrots, chick peas and maybe a bowl of soup. Dinner is often a salad with mixed greens, broccoli and carrots along with potatoes or rice and sometimes tofu.
  2. Give time to digest. Johnson is like many elite athletes in that she doesn’t like to eat much on a game day. “I don’t like to eat too close to a game because I don’t like to play on a full stomach, so it’s important to digest a meal before a game,” she said. “I would also suggest avoiding all processed foods.”
  3.  Snack well. Johnson isn’t anti-snack. In fact, she says they can be good for you, as long you pick the right ones. “I like to carry around apples or bananas with me as a quick snack,” she said. “I also always carry a water bottle with me. I’m always drinking water. I also sometimes drink Gatorade and tea.”