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The leading scorer for the University of Toledo women’s basketball team is also the leader in nutritional knowledge.
Curious how junior forward Inma Zanoguera maintains her lean physique? So are her teammates.
“I’ve overheard them asking her, ‘What do you think about this?’ when they sit down to eat a meal,” said coach Tricia Cullop.
A daily diet of fish and poultry, along with fruits and vegetables, has fueled rapid improvements the past two seasons for the svelte 5-foot-10 Spaniard. Zanoguera, who is averaging nearly a double-double with 16.3 points and 9.3 rebounds, ranks first or second on the team in virtually every statistic after four games.
On Tuesday evening, as she packed for a flight this morning to a tournament in California, Zanoguera headed out to pick up snacks like baby carrots, trail mix, and fruit. She rid her diet of junk food after her freshman year when she “went a little crazy” with easy access to fried food and vending machines, temptations that were hard to come by at her high school.
Zanoguera dropped about 30 pounds from her freshman year to sophomore year, and in turn increased her scoring and rebounding totals from 3.9 and 2.9 to 10.2 and 5.6. She earned Mid-American Conference third-team honors, energizing the Rockets through a 29-4 season that brought a regular season MAC title.
She mostly has continued the same vigilance at meal time, though Zanoguera’s admits to sneaking “a little something, something,” every now and then such as ice cream.
“It’s probably not as strict, but I still try to eat healthy every day,” she said.
That includes Thursday, the holiday of overindulgence known as Thanksgiving, when Zanoguera and her teammates will be on the west coast preparing to play Cal State Fullerton the next day. Toledo (2-2) will face Saint Mary’s on Saturday in the second round of the SMC Hilton Concord Thanksgiving Classic.
Zanoguera, who leads the Mid-American Conference with a .622 field goal percentage, ramps up her eating habits the day before a game.
She’s a proponent of water for hydration and carbohydrates and protein for energy, readying a body that’s averaging a team-high 32 minutes per contest.
“She’s very serious about being as healthy and as successful as she can be,” Cullop said. “It’s just great to see somebody care that much. They’re so dedicated to changing everything about the way they’re living to make success happen.”
Cullop has her players pre-order meals rather than offering a single option and risking them not eating over distaste with the selection. Meals on the road are made by hotel restaurant. Pregame meals for home games are fixed by the same company that operates concessions at Savage Arena.
Zanoguera’s diet is so clean that last summer it became a source of concern. After helping Spain to the U20 title at the European Championships, she returned to campus and began tiring in preseason work outs. Cullop arranged for Zanoguera to meet with a nutritionist — Cullop says “food coach” — who recommended Zanoguera increase her caloric intake to handle a rigorous training routine that also includes work in the weight room. Zanoguera called it a “momentary problem” and since has upped her food intake.
The United States and Canada are the only countries to celebrate Thanksgiving, thus a feast of turkey, mashed potatoes, and gravy was new to Zanoguera when she arrived in America. She didn’t particularly care for the meal the first time she tried it. Unfortunately for her, the Rockets will dine on a traditional Thanksgiving spread tomorrow at the hotel.
“I do like, what is it, stuffed something,” she said.
“Stuffing, that’s what I like. And I like pumpkin pie.”
She was told the sugar, butter, and whipped cream in a slice of pumpkin pie might disrupt her plan for healthy living.
“It’s once a year,” Zanoguera responded. “I can afford that.”