Q&A: NFL's Arik Armstead on the Importance of Nutrition and Sugar Reduction

Q&A: NFL's Arik Armstead on the Importance of Nutrition and Sugar Reduction

Arik Armstead, formerly of the San Francisco 49ers and now Jacksonville Jaguars, is an Oobli advisor and ambassador and he's shining a light on the importance of sugar reduction. We recently attended the Arik's Armstead Academic Project youth football camp and wellness event in Arik's hometown of Sacramento, and caught up with him on his perspective on nutrition and sugar education from a youth and athletic perspective.

Oobli: First off, congratulations on all the progress and success with the Armstead Academic Project. Can you give us a background on when and why you started this foundation? What inspired you to take this on?

Arik Armstead: I started the Armstead Academic Project along with my wife Mindy to promote education equity. Inspired by my own experiences and the educational disparities I observed, the goal aims to provide access to quality education and resources for underserved students.

Oobli: Can you give a little background on how you first discovered and got involved with Oobli? Why do you feel so strongly about the potential impact of sweet proteins as a better solution to our sweet tooth?
Arik: I first came across Oobli while exploring healthier lifestyle options. I was drawn to the innovative approach to sweet proteins, which seemed like a revolutionary way to satisfy sweet cravings without the downsides of sugar. I believe in the potential of sweet proteins because they offer a healthier alternative without compromising taste. It’s exciting to support a solution that could fundamentally change how we enjoy sweetness, benefiting overall health and wellness.
Oobli: Obviously you’re taking on education access, which is a massive issue in our country, specifically in metropolitan areas. What have you seen from your team, donors and other supporters that make you feel like you’re on the right path to making real change?

Arik: The enthusiasm and commitment from our team, donors, and supporters have been incredibly inspiring. Seeing the community come together to provide resources, time, and funding has reinforced that we are on the right track. Witnessing the positive impact on students' lives firsthand — improvements in their academic achievements and increased opportunities — confirms that our collective efforts are making a real difference. This support fuels our drive to expand our reach and continue breaking down barriers to educational access.

Arik Armstead with Oobli Founder & CTO Jason Ryder and Oobli CEO Ali Wing

Oobli: How is the project helping kids make better choices as they move through their own educational journey?

Arik: We help kids by providing them with resources and support tailored to their educational needs. We focus on creating environments that nurture learning and personal growth. By offering tutoring, mentorship, and access to technology, we equip students with the tools they need to make informed decisions and pursue their academic goals confidently. It’s about empowering them to take charge of their education and future.

Oobli: How important is proper nutrition to learning? And what are the challenges with access to proper nutrition and how early do you think kids should start learning about good nutrition and make smart decisions when it comes to what we put in our bodies?

Arik: Proper nutrition is crucial to learning because it directly impacts function and overall health. Students need balanced diets to focus, process information, and perform at their best. The challenges with access often stem from socioeconomic factors and a lack of nutritional education. I believe that education on nutrition should start as early as possible. Kids who learn about healthy eating early are more likely to make smart choices throughout their lives, leading to better health outcomes and educational achievements.

Oobli: How important is nutrition to you personally? Do you have a specific food or diet philosophy that you personally follow? How strict are you?

Arik: Nutrition is crucial to me, not just for my performance on the field but for my overall well-being. I focus on a balanced diet that fuels my body efficiently. It’s all about moderation and making informed choices—incorporating plenty of whole foods, lean proteins, and vegetables while limiting processed foods. I’m not overly strict, but I try to stay disciplined, especially during the season, to ensure my body performs at its best.

Oobli: Sugar is everywhere in our food system. Do you actively look to reduce sugar? If so, what are some simple ways you strategically look to reduce sugar in your diet that others might learn or benefit from?

Arik: Sugar is in our diets, and I'm mindful of its impact on health. One simple strategy I use is reading labels attentively, opting for products with lower sugar content or natural sweeteners. I also prioritize whole foods over processed ones and enjoy homemade meals, where I can control sugar levels. Small adjustments like swapping sugary drinks for water or unsweetened alternatives can make a big difference too. It's about making conscious choices to prioritize health without sacrificing flavor.
Oobli Founder & CTO Jason Ryder at the Armstead Academic Project wellness event.

Oobli: One of the worst offenders for adding sugar to our diet is drinks. And ironically, drinks are a big part of an athlete’s arsenal. What’s your philosophy with hydration and how it relates to sugar consumption?

Arik: Hydration is crucial for optimal athletic performance, but sugar-laden drinks can undermine those efforts. My philosophy is centered on prioritizing hydration with natural options like water and electrolyte-rich beverages. Minimizing sugar intake helps maintain energy levels without the crashes associated with sugary drinks. As athletes, we must fuel our bodies smartly to perform at our best.

Oobli: What’s one secret nutrition or eating tip from Arik Armstead that kids looking up to you as an accomplished NFL athlete can take advantage of?

Arik: One secret nutrition tip I'd share is to focus on whole, nutrient-dense foods. Instead of processed snacks, opt for fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains. These foods provide sustained energy, support muscle recovery, and help maintain overall health. Making smart food choices consistently can make a big difference in performance and well-being.
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