Food is something that drives us as humans and helps us to achieve our mental and physical tasks or goals.
Without food and water, we wouldn’t have the energy to run the longest marathons nor take part in the most exhausting training sessions nor competitions.
Food fuels our body and mind with the required energy, to get things done, and to be the best while doing it.
Let’s dive in!
- Everybody’s different, so does nutrition needs
- Some of the most common myths in sports nutrition
- What are the best nutritional options for athletes?
Everybody’s different, so does nutrition needs
Nowadays, with great advancements made in science and medicine, food and supplements have gained more and more attention from athletes and their coaches.
Trying to find the best diet plans, vitamins, or supplements for professional athletes is as important as having the right training plan.
Many professional or amateur athletes speak about their daily meal preps, essential vitamins, or even most important food supplements on social media to spread awareness among other enthusiasts.
Sometimes, this may have the opposite effect, causing false myths or rumors to spread around and encourage other athletes to develop wrong eating habits.
Some of the most common myths in sports nutrition
“Drinking pure water is the way to go”
Yes, water is the easiest and the best way to replenish thirst.
But sometimes pure water just doesn’t do the trick.
During intense exercises, athletes sweat out fluids and electrolytes that they will not gain back from drinking just water.
Athletes body requires a drink which provides enough sodium and other electrolytes close to counter that they lose in sweat.
“Carbo-Loading – best way to prep yourself”
Eating a carbo-loaded dinner the night before a competition is a quite common practice for many athletes.
Especially for those in endurance sports.
In reality, if the event lasts less than 90 minutes, the athlete’s body doesn’t need the extra energy.
Many types of research have shown that in reality, carbo-loading won’t provide many benefits.
“Sugar is bad for athletes”
No, sugar is actually very important for athletes!
During an intense workout, the body craves energy, and sugar is the most important source of it.
When combined with sodium, sugar helps to draw water from the intestine into the bloodstream, keeping you hydrated for a longer period of time.
“Somewhere exists a magic diet, that will maximize an athlete’s performance”
The answer is no!
There is no magic diet with the right ratio of nutrients that would be perfect for every single athlete – whether he’s a professional or an amateur.
No scientist has yet proven, that there is a perfect ratio of macronutrients for athletes.
In reality, the diet will always depend only on the athlete individually and the amount of training he does.
What are the best nutritional options for athletes?
Eating the right things at the right time and in the right amount is as important as planning out your whole workout plan.
Your nutritional habits will have an essential influence on your whole season!
As an athlete, it is important to be extra smart about it!
Don’t forget about your greens and berries
For professional athletes, the main focus always remains on the balance between carbs and protein.
One provides the fuel, and the other provides the power to heal the muscles and keep them training at a high level.
It is relatively easy to forget about your greens and berries when you only focus on the latter.
In reality, many people forget or don’t know that our organisms need micronutrients – like vitamins and minerals that are found in veggies – to properly use proteins and carbohydrates in the first place.
Also, berries have an essential role in helping the body to reduce soreness and accelerate its recovery.
Research has shown how by consuming berries before and after a workout, athletes have better inflammation and immune responses.
Pro Tip: Next time you are shopping for some food, don’t forget to add some green veggies and blueberries to your basket!
Creatine – the real source of energy
Creatine has been one of the most effective and safest food supplements on the market for years.
Studies have also backed up its essential role as a training aid to augment intense resistance training workouts.
Creatine is found naturally in the human body and is important for the transport of energy within cells.
Pro Tip: Next time you decide to stock up on your food supplements, don’t forget your creatine! Don’t forget to do some research regarding the best brands out there.
Low Carb Diet – avoid the hype
As a professional athlete, you need to understand that you eat for strength, power, and energy – not for weight loss.
To be successful in sports, avoid the low carb, high-fat diets that are gaining more and more popularity.
Training sessions or competitions are high in intensity or require maximal effort? Carbohydrates will most definitely help with the performance!
Pro Tip: After a hard training session, don’t forget to throw in some carbs in your meal! It will help boost your immune system and speed your recovery so you’ll be prepared for your next session!
Pay attention to your blood sugar levels
Keeping track of your food and its combinations will help you to maximize your performance and better your sleeping habits.
Sports Dietitian Bob Seebohar has proved, that combining sources of protein, fat, and fiber at almost every feeding will optimize blood sugar.
This allows the body to use fat as energy and preserve valuable carbohydrate stores.
It also has some great benefits on your sleeping quality.
In addition, this helps with the body’s recovery process during the night time.
Pro Tip: Next time you prep your meal, always think of the simple equation: protein + fat + fiber. Always try to aim for the best sources of protein, fat, and fiber.
- Chicken Breast
- Cottage Cheese
- Greek Yogurt
- Dark Chocolate
- Chia Seeds
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Full Fat Yogurt
- Whole Eggs
- Fatty fish
Don’t be afraid of salt
For years, we have been thought by our parents and doctors to avoid salt or salty foods.
In reality, professional athletes need to understand the importance of minerals and salts after hard sweating sessions. Especially those one’s training in warmer climates.
In simple terms, we need to be mindful of sodium and electrolyte intake to avoid cramps and decreases in performance.
Pro Tip: Add a pinch of Himalayan salt into your water before a heavy workout or competition!
If you don’t feel like drinking some salty water, add some seasoning to your every meal!
As an athlete, it is important to keep track of your diet, plan your meals, and think carefully about your vitamin and supplement intakes.
While you’re busy thinking of the above, don’t forget to eat for success. An athlete’s job is not to look good, but rather to be successful and have enough energy to accomplish great things.
With today’s social media presence, it is easy to get lost in different diets and supplements, believing that there is a magic diet out there.
In those cases, don’t be afraid in having a quick chat with a professional sports nutritionist who will help you on the right track!