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Sports Nutrition & Health – 5 Foods All Athletes Should Eat

Sports Nutrition & Health – 5 Foods All Athletes Should Eat

  • June 2, 2022
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There are several foods that all athletes should eat in the days leading up to a competition in order to achieve peak performance. They include:

1. Whole Grains – Whole grains like cereal, bagels, pasta, and bread provide good, long-lasting energy for the whole body. As the most important food group, athletes should consume plenty of whole grain carbohydrates before a competition.

2. Peanut Butter A good source of protein and essential fats, peanut butter is easy to carry and eat on the go. Other protein sources work as well, such as lean meat or dairy; The most important thing is to consume enough protein before and after training. Protein helps the body maintain aerobic metabolism instead of anaerobic metabolism, which prevents the body from absorbing protein from lean tissue. Adequate protein speeds recovery and aids in actual performance situations.

3. Fresh Fruits and Vegetables – Fresh produce is a great way to get the vitamins and minerals that help the body function normally. They’re usually fat-free and contain lots of energy for the body to use during exercise. Some fruits, like bananas, contain potassium, a mineral that helps regulate water balance in the body and stabilize muscle contraction. Low potassium levels can lead to muscle cramps and fatigue, so eating potassium-rich foods is a good idea. However, it is important to regulate potassium intake because too much too quickly can lead to a heart attack. Athletes should consume 435 milligrams of potassium for each hour of training. While potassium doesn’t support actual performance, it does speed up recovery and should be considered one of the most important additions to an exercise program.

Another benefit of fruits and vegetables is iron. Chickpeas, spinach, asparagus, broccoli, apricots, and figs are all good sources of iron, a nutrient that helps prevent fatigue, headaches and lack of stamina, and boosts the immune system. Athletes are generally at risk for anemia due to low levels of iron in their blood due to the amount of iron used during exercise. The recommended daily dose is 6-11 milligrams, a number that is easily reached by consuming green leafy vegetables or foods rich in vitamin C.

4. Calcium-Rich Foods – Foods like cheese, yogurt, and milk contain the necessary calcium, which keeps bones strong and protects athletes from injury. These dairy products are also a good source of protein but should be consumed well before an event as they take time to process. If the body does not tolerate dairy well, supplements should be taken to ensure athletes are getting the recommended daily allowance of 1000 milligrams. For example, a cup of skim milk provides about 300 milligrams of calcium.

5. High-fiber foods – Fiber is the dietary component that keeps athletes full and regulates the digestive tract. Many of the foods mentioned above contain fiber, but it is important for coaches to know which foods help athletes regulate fiber levels. Examples of high-fiber foods include whole grains, apples, berries, almonds, and legumes. A simple way to determine the required amount of fiber is to increase the age of the athlete by 5. For example, a 10-year-old athlete needs about 15 grams of fiber per day. After the age of 15, athletes need 20-25 grams of fiber per day.

Thanks to Kenny Buford

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