Good nutrition is fundamental for good health and high performance among athletes. Their level of physical exertion means that they need to approach their diets tactfully. Similarly, athletes of different ages have varied energy requirements. For example, active teen athletes will require more calories to help them sustain their high performance while supporting their growth needs. The first step is maintaining a balanced diet comprising a proper ratio of macronutrients, carbohydrates, healthy fats and proteins, and micronutrients such as minerals and vitamins. In more advanced settings, these options are balanced according to the individual’s needs. Knowing what foods to eat can help save time by letting athletes choose what to eat with ease. The following five foods are necessary for these athletes.
Vegetables are vital and should be well represented on an athlete’s plate. These foods are high in fiber, vitamins like A, C, E, K, and B6, and minerals like zinc, calcium, magnesium, manganese, and iron. Some of these nutrients are essential for protecting the body against inflammation, and others like iron are essential for blood production and thus oxygen circulation. Some vegetables that should be commonplace on an athlete’s plate include spinach, kale, broccoli, cauliflower, sweet potatoes, beetroots, artichokes, red cabbage, and eggplant.
An athlete should ensure that fruits are a staple on their grocery list. Different fruits contain different macronutrients and micronutrients. For example, oranges and strawberries contain vitamin C, essential for boosting the immune system, reducing the stress from performing exercises, and holding bones and muscles together. Other fruits like bananas contain easily digestible carbohydrates and potassium that are highly beneficial, especially for pre-workouts. Low potassium levels in the body could lead to weak muscles, cramps, muscle paralysis, and fatigue. Another fruit essential for athletes is raisins, which provide a natural alternative to glucose gel and sport gel supplements. They are an excellent natural source of potassium, iron, and fiber. Other fruits to consider include avocados, grapes, and plums.
Eggs are one of the best sources of protein for athletes. Eggs contain vitamins like A, B2, B6, D, B12, D, E, K, selenium, and lecithin minerals such as zinc, iron, and copper. Eggs also have betaine and choline that can help an athlete maintain a healthy heart. Popular eggs include chicken eggs, quail eggs, and duck eggs. Free-range or organically raised chickens provide more enriched and quality eggs that would be beneficial to athletes.
Fiber-rich whole grains are compulsory in the diet of an athlete. This type of food can help significantly improve cholesterol levels while reducing risks associated with obesity, stroke, and diabetes. In addition, some whole grains contain essential amino acids and other minerals like calcium, potassium, and iron. Examples of grains that fall in this category include amaranth, teff, oats, brown rice, barley, whole wheat, sorghum, corn, and rye.
5. Healthy Fats
Not all fats are unhealthy. For example, unsaturated fats help lower harmful cholesterol levels, reducing their adverse health effects. In addition, these healthy fats are necessary for optimal body function. Therefore, athletes should eat foods that contain this essential element. Some of these healthy fats include Avocado oil, Salmon fish oil, olive oil, and oil from nuts.
An athlete’s nutrition significantly affects their performance. However, rarely do people have the time to investigate and organize diets that meet their dietary needs. Fit Five offers athletes an opportunity to save time when planning their nutritional needs. In addition, the different meal packs and delivery services mean that athletes can access healthy diets conveniently. To find out more about our meal plans, get in touch with the Fit Five team today.