The food you eat regularly impacts your athletic performance. Regardless of how hard and often you train, if you consume unhealthy foods all the time, your dream of becoming the world’s best athlete will remain just that — a dream.
Fortunately, creating a diet for athletes is easy, as the right foods are accessible and cheap. As long as you add them to your diet ASAP and consume them regularly, it won’t be long before you can attain the same success as Mason Greenwood, Michael Jordan, and Tiger Woods.
We’ve listed five food types that can enhance your athletic performance naturally:
Vegetables are a must in everyone’s diet, but did you know that athletes require them more? Vegetables are packed with essential vitamins and minerals that can keep the mind and body strong — crucial to an athlete’s performance.
- Sweet potatoes: Sweet potatoes are a great source of carbohydrates needed for exercise. It also contains phytochemicals and anthocyanins that reduce post-workout inflammation and speeds up the body’s recovery from exercise.
- Beets: According to a study published in 2012, the consumption of whole beetroots regularly improves running performance because it can increase the dilation of the blood vessels. This allows greater blood flow, improving nutrient and oxygen delivery to the working muscles.
- Spinach: Green leafy vegetables, such as spinach, contain calcium, iron, magnesium, and vitamin C — all important for athletic performance. Due to its vitamin K content, spinach also helps athletes maintain strong and healthy bones.
Grains are one of the best sources of fiber, making you feel full for longer periods. This is the reason why grains are a must if you want to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight.
- Quinoa: Eating quinoa is essential for athletes as it’s a plant-based complete protein and provides magnesium and iron — two minerals that play key roles in endurance performance. Quinoa also cooks faster than other types of grains, perfect for time-crunched athletes.
- Oats: Oats provide energy for athletes to survive a tough workout and enough fiber to keep them full for a longer period. One serving of oats contains 10% of the body’s iron needs. This is crucial because iron is the center of hemoglobin, which carries oxygen to the cells and helps athletes jump, run, and perform at their best.
- Buckwheat: Buckwheat contains rutin, an antioxidant that fights off inflammation produced during training. It also helps stimulate collagen, a protein that facilities the repair of connective tissues, bones, and the skin.
Aside from being highly nutritious, fruits are cheap. Aldi, Morrisons, Costco, and other grocery stores regularly offer promos and discounts for fruits. Check their online deals often, so you’ll know when is the best time to buy your favorite fruits without breaking the bank!
- Blueberries: According to blueberry exercise research, results showed that female athletes who engaged in a sample exercise consuming blueberries a few hours before did have a reduction in muscle damage after. Foods rich in antioxidants are known to decrease muscle soreness after intense physical activities and reduce inflammation.
- Oranges: Oranges are one of the best sources of vitamin C, which strengthens the immune system and reduces exercise-induced oxidative stress. Vitamin C also makes it easier for the body to absorb iron from plant-based foods.
- Bananas: Bananas contain low-glycemic, easily digestible carbohydrates, which provide energy to the body before practices or games. Bananas are also an excellent source of potassium, an electrolyte that is often lost during strenuous physical activities.
Every athlete’s eating plan should include protein-rich foods. Protein helps strengthen and repair muscle tissues. It also helps athletes achieve a more defined, leaner physique.
- Eggs: Eggs are a powerhouse of nutrients and protein. It contains riboflavin, thiamine, folic acid, and vitamins B12, D, and E. One large egg has 250 mg of choline, an essential nutrient that delays fatigue in endurance sports.
- Chicken: Besides protein, chicken is also one of the best sources of amino acids for athletes, which are essential in building muscle tissue. Chicken also maintains muscle health, promotes muscle development, and improves the body’s recovery time.
- Wild fish: Fish offers a ton of protein in a nutritious, low-calorie package. For instance, three ounces of wild salmon contains 19 grams of protein but 175 calories. Fish also has omega-3s that protect brain health and function, manage inflammation, and enhance muscle recovery.
Dairy products contain electrolytes that replenish what is lost in sweat and rehydrate the body. The potassium found in dairy products also prevents muscle cramping.
- Milk: Milk is a great post-exercise drink because it increases muscle protein metabolism. This results in a better net muscle protein balance and faster muscle repair after an intense workout.
- Yogurt: Its high protein content helps with muscle recovery. It also contains probiotics for better gut health and calcium to improve bone health.
Include the food items mentioned here in your next grocery list. The sooner you add them to your diet, the easier it’ll be for you to think and move like one of the world’s best athletes!