Athletes’ nutrition plans can be different but the main purpose is clear – to keep the body healthy and running.
Like a car, your body won’t run when you won’t be feeding it any fuel or you give the wrong one.
In this topic, you will find:
- What does top athletes’ nutrition plan include to remain strong, fast and steady?
- Healthy ingredients and tips to your everyday meals
- What to avoid eating?
- Can bad nutrition lower your performance?
- A basic example of athletes nutrition plan
What does top athletes’ nutrition plan include to remain strong, fast and steady?
There is no exact nutrition plan on how to be one of the best athletes or how to keep your body fit. Everybody is different and that goes to events as well.
Some events acquire you to gain weight, some need you to keep your body fat to a minimum.
Most athletes have personal dietitians to help them keep their body healthy and running. But bear in mind how fast you’ll lose your weight or gain it really depends on your metabolism.
There’s actually no point on taking over let’s say, Lebron James’ diet and expect it to work the same.
Let’s have a look at Lebron James’ game-day nutrition routine.
- Breakfast – egg-white omelet, smoked salmon and gluten-free pancakes with berries.
- Lunch – whole wheat pasta with salmon and vegetables.
- Before the game snack – peanut butter and jelly sandwich. During half-time, a sliced apple with almond butter.
- After the game – protein shake
- Dinner – chicken parm
This can work for him but there’s no guarantee that it’ll work on you as well.
Healthy ingredients and tips to your everyday meals
As mentioned before there’s isn’t just one perfect diet for every kind of event in the field of sports. But there are definitely some pointers that you can use to become a healthier athlete.
The first tip is to never start your training when you’re hungry or dehydrated. If you do start your day without any food or water you’ll block your body’s ability to perform at a high level.
“Breakfast is the most important meal of the day,” that saying has been going around for centuries, don’t let it pass you.
It’s very important to start your day with a breakfast that consists of proteins, whole grain, and fruits.
Also, don’t forget to drink water! If you’re dehydrated you’ll be more likely to have muscle cramps that can lead to serious injuries.
The next thing to keep in mind is to eat iron-rich foods, such as eggs, salmon, chicken, cheese, dairy. Women especially need to eat more iron-rich foods.
You can find iron in all of these foods mentioned before and in red meats and in oatmeal. If you don’t think you’re consuming enough iron with your diet you can always take iron supplements, but don’t go overboard with it.
Don’t count out carbs, if you are a long-distance runner or you do any type of endurance event you need carbs to give you fuel.
And the last thing is to eat to recover. Having a protein shake or even chocolate milk (it has both carbs and protein in it) after a workout can help you recover faster and it’ll reduce muscle soreness and fatigue.
But this drink has to be consumed within 20 minutes after your workout, otherwise, it won’t be as efficient.
What to avoid eating?
As I mentioned before we’re all different. I think the best idea before changing your diet, is to have a conversation with your coach, health care professional and a dietitian.
Keep in mind that your body needs certain vitamins to cope with. The first thing is to avoid fast food and processed foods.
Cook your meals yourself. That way you’ll know exactly what’s in it. If you are a sweet-tooth then don’t cut off all the sweets straight away. Start slowly and keep decreasing the number of sweets you take.
For example, let’s take volleyball players. They need to jump a lot during practices and games. Gaining weight puts your body under pressure and can lead, for example, to the knee problems.
If a player is eating unhealthy, it can have a huge impact on their performance. The same thing goes to high jumpers, long-distance runners, etc. because they need their body weight to be as low as possible.
Can bad nutrition lower your performance?
The answer to this is: YES!
Coming back to my example in the last paragraph, gaining a few pounds is not the only way you can affect your performance. So can starving yourself to get your ideal weight.
This is actually a huge problem in sports, and it has been for years. More and more athletes suffer under different kinds of eating disorders.
There is a healthy way to get to your ideal weight or how to prep for your competition where you need to weigh an exact number.
The most common eating disorders are anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge- eating disorder.
I know it’s not something an athlete chooses to do it’s something they do without knowing. It’s not a healthy way to treat your body that way.
Your body is under a lot of stress anyway and by having unhealthy eating habits you’re not helping either.
A lot of people don’t acknowledge binge-eating as a disorder and think it’s normal.
Lots of athletes suffer that kind of eating during their career, it’s caused by stress and even by overtraining.
Stress can also cause you to lose your appetite which can lead to anorexia or bulimia. Here my only advice is to pay attention to what you’re eating and seek help when you need it.
A basic example of athletes nutrition plan
- Breakfast – Porridge with almond milk. Add protein powder, honey, cinnamon, berries, and some nuts
- Lunch – Salmon, steak or chicken with vegetables. For carbs have rice or potatoes alongside
- Dinner – Similar to lunch, but try to avoid pasta or bread. Eat more veggies with meat
- Snacks – Fruits, yogurt, protein bars, rice cakes. Be careful with snacks – don’t overeat!
- Drinks – Drink water and keep yourself hydrated
- Supplements – Vitamins are essential. For example take a daily dose of vitamin C, omega fish oil, glutamine, magnesium
It’s very important to not make your nutrition plan yourself, ask for help and guidance.
If you have a feeling you might be getting on the wrong track don’t be afraid to make some changes. After all, it’s still your body, not anyone else’s.