Best Nutrition For Athletes
Having an optimized diet is important for everyone. However, it becomes even more important when you are talking about an athlete. After all, an athlete burns many more calories throughout the intense physical performance. Thus, having a diet that is balanced and optimized for increased activity is key. Below, we will be going over why nutrition is so important for athletes, how an athlete should eat, what nutritional needs an athlete has and whether or not they must eat differently.
Why Is Nutrition For Athletes Important?
Nutrition is so important for athletes due to the fact that they generally burn many more calories than the average person throughout each day. Therefore, they require more caloric intake to maintain a healthy diet. While an average person typically needs anywhere from 1,500 to 2,000 calories per day, that number can rise significantly for someone that is an athlete. Typically, an athlete will require anywhere from 500 to 1,000 more calories per day depending on several factors. Without sufficient caloric intake, the body will be forced to turn to other means for energy production which can result in muscle loss in athletes. This is generally why long-distance endurance runners are not extremely muscular or bulky.
An Ideal Athlete Nutrition Plan – Nutrition For Athletes:
- Proper Caloric Intake.
Perhaps most important, an athlete should focus on getting in the right number of calories on a daily basis. It is important to take in the right number of calories to ensure that you are supplying your body with enough nutrients to provide energy for your athletic performance. However, the quality of the calories that you consume is also important. Ideally, you want the calories that you consume to come from nutrient-dense foods.
As an athlete, it is very important to get a high amount of protein in your daily diet. Protein is the building blocks of muscle. Because of this, you want to ensure that you are getting a sufficient intake of bioavailable protein that your body will be able to use to repair itself and to build muscle at a high rate. An athlete should get anywhere from 1 to 1.5 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight to ensure optimal muscle repair and growth.
- Healthy Fat.
While fat might sound like a bad word to athletes, it is actually something that athletes need in relatively large quantities. Fat is a very important source of calories for athletes because it can prove to be one of the best and most sustainable energy sources within the body. Ideally, you want the majority of your fat intake to come from healthy sources that provide healthy fat. For instance, you want to take in various foods that contain a lot of healthy fat including but not limited to fatty fish, olive oil, coconut oil, avocados, and more.
- Complex Carbohydrates.
Another important fuel source that an athlete should be looking to get in their diet would be complex carbohydrates. Complex carbohydrates are broken down much slower than simple carbohydrates which ensure that they do not cause significant insulin spikes. Controlling insulin spikes is key to minimizing inflammation throughout the body which can be a big factor in keeping an athlete as healthy as possible. Thus, athletes should be looking to intake primarily complex carbohydrates in order to provide the body with a good and easy to utilize energy source without spiking insulin. Top examples of complex carbohydrates would include whole grain products and even oatmeal.
What Is The Best Diet For Athletic Performance?
While it would be great to have an on-sized-fits-all diet that you can point to in order to give the best athletic performance, there is not a single diet that is going to be labeled as the best for everyone. The fact is, everyone is different. Because of this, there is no single diet that is going to be considered the optimal diet. Instead, you need to see what diet works best for your body. However, the diet should be balanced. An athlete requires all kinds of nutrients to keep their body in the best possible shape. Therefore, the diet should consist of nutrient-dense foods providing a range of nutrients such as protein, healthy fats, and complex carbohydrates.
Do Athletes Need To Eat Differently – Nutrition For Athletes?
As mentioned previously, an athlete is going to require many more calories simply because they are going to burn more calories throughout the day. Therefore, to ensure that they are not operating with a caloric deficit, they will need to consume more calories than they are burning throughout the day. This is typically going to be anywhere from 500 to 1,000 calories more than the average person but it could change depending on the type of athletic performance and the duration of the activity. More so than eating differently, athletes will need to hydrate differently. Staying hydrated is one of the hardest and most important things that an athlete can do. During any sort of physical activity, you are going to lose a lot of water through perspiration. Because of this, an athlete needs to consume more water prior to and even during intense physical activity.
How Does Nutrition For Athletes Affect Physical Performance?
Essentially, having an optimized diet can dictate how much you are able to get out of your genetics. While some might be ‘blessed’ with a physical gift of being an elite athlete, without the right kind of diet and nutrition plan in place, you will limit the ceiling. With an optimized diet, an athlete is able to achieve the highest of their genetic potential. However, everyone is different and finding the right diet that works best for your body is key when you are looking to maximize physical performance. This is why you will notice a lot of Olympic athletes diet plan differing with one another. With poor nutrition, it can negatively impact physical performance in many ways. For one, it can cause fat gain. Another, it can result in slow recovery times. It can even result in reduced energy which can have a dramatic impact on overall performance.
In the end, having an optimized diet and nutrition plan as an athlete is crucial to getting the most out of your body. Without having proper nutrition, you will be unable to reach your genetic potential and to maximize your physical ability. With sufficient caloric intake and by focusing on eating the best foods for athletic performance and avoiding the wrong foods, you should be able to become a much better athlete overall.