We all know that eating healthy is important for the average person. However, it’s even more crucial for athletes. Good food provides athletes with plenty of energy to power through the day. In fact, athletes who don’t take in enough calories every day won’t be as fast and as strong as they could be.
Contrary to beliefs, eating to reach your full performance level doesn’t require a special diet or fancy supplements. We compiled some tips to start eating healthy. Follow these and you’re on your way to becoming the best athlete you can be!
Eat a variety of foods
When eating, go for the full spectrum of foods. Have grains, meat, fruits, vegetables…and many others. Just make sure you balance it out! It provides the essential vitamins, minerals, protein, water and fats for you to stay in shape.
Don’t skip breakfast!
If you skip breakfast, it’s possible that you could be going up to 12 hours or longer without any food. By this time, your muscles need more glycogen for energy. The longer you go without eating, the more glycogen your muscles use, and the less energy you will have. Skipping breakfast is a common factor among those who have sedentary lifestyles, according to MayoClinic.com. To keep your energy level high, eat a healthy breakfast each morning. Choose healthy foods such as eggs, grains and oatmeal.
Eat plenty of protein
Protein is a very important component of every cell in the body. Your body uses protein to build and repair tissues. You also use protein to make enzymes, hormones, and other body chemicals. Protein is an important building block of bones, muscles, cartilage, skin, and blood. Choose lean meats, beans, nuts, eggs, milk and cheese. To get a rundown of protein-rich foods, visit http://www.m.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/guide/good-protein-sources.
Oily fish, like salmon, mackerel, and trout, are excellent sources of lean protein and omega-3 fatty acids, which help reduce inflammation that can hamper athletic performance and cause chronic conditions like heart disease. Most experts agree that eating seafood twice a week will offer anti-inflammatory benefits. If you are not a seafood eater, you can opt to take a fish oil supplement.
Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the body. Not only is calcium essential for the health of your bones and teeth, but it also plays important roles in muscle contraction, nervous system function, stabilization of blood pressure, blood clotting, secretion of hormones and helps maintain a regular heartbeat. Some sources of calcium include cheese, yogurt, milk, dark leafy greens like spinach, kale, turnips, collard greens and fortified orange juice.
“Your ability to perform athletically can decline with a very small amount of dehydration,” says Carlson, director of performance nutrition for Athletes’ Performance, which trains many of the world’s top athletes. “Just losing 2% of your body weight in fluid can decrease performance by up to 25%.” It is suggested to drink water the following way during a workout or sport:
- One to two hours before your workout, drink 15 to 20 ounces of water
- 15 minutes before you begin, drink between 8 and 10 ounces of water
- During your workout, drink another 8 ounces every 15 minutes.