As a cheerleader, it’s essential that you upkeep your fitness around the calendar year. If you aren’t on the grind gearing up for a performance, you’re training for tryouts, or even camp! There’s no off-season for cheerleaders, and that means there’s no time to let your fitness regimen slide. It’s okay, though, because after a while, you get addicted to working out from all those endorphins you’re producing. So, hooray for the gym! But, working out is only half the battle: no matter how hard you push your fitness routine, you won’t truly get into top-notch shape unless you pair your efforts with a well-rounded diet. If you don’t eat right, it doesn’t matter how many hours you spend at the gym! So, in the spirit of staying in shape, here are some things to consider when it comes to what you eat.

GMOs are the sworn enemy. Processed foods with GMOs aren’t good for your health anyway, but if you want to be in peak physical condition, GMOs are your official sworn enemy. You simply cannot get excellent muscle definition without eating clean. Plus, GMOs are known for complicating your digestive system, making your body feel more sluggish than it should. Fuel your body forward with food all-natural ingredients, or even eat organic! The easiest way to avoid GMOs is to start reading the labels on your food products–you’ll be surprised to find things you’ve never even heard of lurking in your food! A good rule of thumb is, if you’ve never heard of it, can’t pronounce it, or think it sounds like it was made in a secret laboratory, chances are that ingredient isn’t good for you. Do your body a favor, and do your due diligence to find out what you’re actually eating.

Sugar isn’t helping.
Sure, you might be young and at low risk of serious diseases like diabetes, but lowering your sugar intake while you’re young does more than just setting you up for a diabetes-free future! In fact, sugar is addicting and habit-forming. It’s true! Your body metabolizes sugar into glucose, which triggers happy feelings in your brain in the form of dopamine. High dopamine levels in your brain make you feel elevated, and when they return to normal, they make you crave things to get that ‘feel-good feeling’ again. That’s why you feel good when you eat sugary treats and then feel really bad when you crash. Sugar gives you a short burst of energy, granted, but you can get that energy in better ways–like through protein or in extreme cases, caffeine. Glucose also lurks in your fat cells, making them harder to breakdown and eliminate when you’re trying to get in shape or build muscle. So, since sugar isn’t doing anything for your mental or physical health, you might want to try avoiding it on training days. Don’t think you can’t have any sugar! Eating in moderation is key, and you deserve to reward yourself from time to time. You’re working out so hard, after all!

You can sleep even better at night.
Your mind may be asleep at night, but your body isn’t! While you’re passed out, your body is actively trying to restore what you’ve put yourself through during the day. If you didn’t eat right for dinner, your body can react to it by waking you up in the night, or feeling really bad the next morning–both physically and mentally. Have you ever gotten a full night’s sleep, but still awoken to feeling dazed? That might’ve been diet related! Eat right, and look better, feel better, sleep better. It’s that easy!

In what other ways does having a balanced diet benefit cheerleaders? Tell us your tips in the comments!