Trying to eat healthily can be difficult if you want to incorporate it into your normal lifestyle. A lot of the time, eating healthily requires time, energy and thoughtfulness. Work, family, social and other commitments consume so much of our time that we often choose convenience over quality when it comes to our food choices.
Fast food and microwavable meals creep into our daily diets and sabotage our quest for healthiness. Now, when you’re an athlete, food becomes more than just sustenance, it becomes fuel for energy, growth, and performance. Whether you’re an amateur weekend cyclist or an NFL superstar, the food you eat is incredibly important and directly related to your performance.
So what should athletes eat? This question does not have a simple answer because it depends on the type of athlete you are, your body type and a variety of other factors. To discuss this topic in its entirety, you would have to read an entire textbook. Instead, we’ll give you a few of the main tips to give you a good starting place to then dig deeper on your own. Here are some of the top nutrition tips for athletes.
Type of Sport
The most important factor for figuring out how you should eat depends on the sport or physical activity you are partaking in. For example, if you are a marathon runner, your ideal diet is going to look considerably different from that of a CrossFitter or powerlifter.
Carbohydrates, fats, and protein are the three big components of any diet and the allocation of the number of calories for each varies from person to person and sport to sport. Typically, sports and activities are divided up into two categories, endurance, and strength, but keep in mind many sports span across both.
There is no such thing as a “best diet for athletes”. Every person is different, so a diet that meets all the nutrient needs of the specific athlete is the one they should follow.
Eating for endurance sports means providing the body with nutrients to exert less than maximum effort over a prolonged period of time. Carbohydrates will be the biggest key to success for endurance athletes.
Eating for strength or power means you have to provide your body with the right nutrients to allow muscles to exert maximum force for a short period of time. Weightlifters and sprinters might be the first types of athletes to come to mind, but even football players fall into this category. A diet that is high in protein will help you recover and build muscle tissue essential for your sport.
Eating for Athletics
- Don’t skip breakfast
This is the most important meal of the day (besides post-workout or competition). Breakfast gets your body prepared for the day. When you skip breakfast, you may tend to overeat during other meals. When you sleep, your body enters a fasting mode and breakfast helps break that fast and stabilize your blood sugar.
While there is a point of overhydration, drinking water throughout the day is very important. Avoid sugary sports drinks, unless it’s right around the time of a practice or competition to replenish electrolytes. Replacing the sweat and keeping our muscles hydrated is key to performing at our peak level.
Protein and carbs usually hog all the spotlight, but iron is a crucial mineral for athletes, especially women. Iron deficiency usually causes symptoms like weakness, fatigue, increased heart rate, headaches, dizziness and overall, poor athletic performance. Make sure you are getting enough iron in your diet from foods like dark, leafy greens, red meat, and fortified cereals.
- Enough Carbs
If you’re an endurance athlete, you already know carbohydrates are your friend, but even strength athletes need to eat the right amount of carbs. While protein is necessary to recover and build muscles, carbohydrates are essential for energy production in workouts and competitions.
The best nutrition plan for athletes is the one that is followed. Without a plan, it is easy to falter and eat the wrong foods. Whether you are going for meal prepping or cooking every meal, having a plan makes it easier to stick to the right foods. Moreover, you’ll be sure you are getting all the required nutrients rather than just winging it all the time.
Try planning your diet with DeliverLean
At DeliverLean, we can help take the guesswork out of your meal planning by providing you with fresh, delicious meals delivered right to your door. Let us handle the food so you can focus on your training and the rest of your life. Whether you are training for a marathon or your weekly tennis league, the athlete in you deserves quality, fresh food all the time.
To learn more about our 150 different weekly meal options delivered straight to your door, visit https://www.deliverlean.com/about-us/.