What and when you should eat: use these diet tips for top performance
Athletes require adequate calories to fuel their energy and health. The mix of nutrients and timing of eating meals and snacks are both important.
However, not all calories are created equal for athletes. While calories from nutrient-dense foods can help provide energy for sports, eating the wrong calories from junk food can worsen performance.
Diet Tips for Athletes: The Building Blocks
Healthy carbohydrates are important to replace the muscle sugar (glycogen) used during sports. If replenished regularly throughout the day, athletes will have a good storage of glycogen to improve performance during games.
Lean proteins also are important, because they help repair the muscle tissue used during intense activity. This results in improved strength, which can lead to better performance.
In addition to carbohydrates and protein, healthy fats are important. But be careful — meals with fats can weigh you down if eaten just prior to a game.
Diet Tips for Athletes: When to Fuel
For planning when to eat, focus on fueling throughout the day. In addition to regular mealtimes, aim to eat 1.5 hours before a workout or game, as well as within 30 minutes of completing activity.
If preparing food is the last thing you feel like doing after exerting energy, prepare healthy and convenient options ahead of time that you can use to grab-and-go later.
Diet Tips for Athletes: Meal Ideas
Try these five snacks or “mini meals” for recovery:
- Dried fruit, nuts, and dry cereal
- Greek yogurt with fruit and granola
- Glass of skim milk and fresh fruit
- Whole grain toast and a scrambled egg
- Whole grain crackers with hummus and veggies
For a full meal, try these options:
- Whole grain toast, eggs and fruit
- Oatmeal with added nut butter, apples, raisins and a glass of milk
- Stir fry with rice, chicken and vegetables
- Bran muffin and a smoothie made with banana, berries and powdered milk
- Wrap with black beans, grated cheese, peppers, corn, salsa and avocado
To start incorporating nutrient-rich foods in your diet, try our recipes for tandoori chicken, kale chips or easy baked fish. Whether you’re the team all-star or just in the game for fun, these eating tips for athletes will help give you the winning edge. If you have any questions about making a change in your diet, reach out to our team at 513-952-5000 to make an appointment with a doctor or visit mercy.com today.