Nutrition for Athletes: 5 Ways to Boost your Health & Performance
You only get out what you put in.
What you put into your body considerably effects what you get out of it. When you eat high quality foods, you get high quality performance. Food is fuel, it’s how our body gets energy for all the processes that go on inside us 24/7. That’s why the right nutrition for athletes is so important. Athletes expect a lot from their bodies, so they need to be extra conscious of what they put in. When it comes to nutrition for athletes, these are the top five categories that have been gaining a lot of attention lately.
The Top 5 Trends in Athlete Nutrition
1. Plant Based Diet
Plant based diets have been a hot topic of discussion lately. More and more athletes are adhering to a plant-based lifestyle, and if you saw the Netflix documentary, The Game Changers, you already know that some athletes and scientists believe this is the optimal diet for health and athletic performance. With the availability of plant-based protein powders such as pea protein, hemp protein, and pumpkin seed protein powder, staying away from meat as an athlete is not as hard as you may think. Plant-based means that a majority of your food comes from plant sources. While some people may choose to go fully plant-based, you don’t have to. It’s more about consciously making the decision to incorporate more plant-based foods such as vegetables, fruits, seeds, legumes, nuts, and whole grains.
Choosing plant-based foods has been linked to a reduced risk for chronic health issues and diseases such as cancer, obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and hypertension. Furthermore, since plant-based foods are easier for your body to digest, you get a natural energy boost. Your body has more energy to expend on other functions instead of trying to digest food. For athletes, this can create a valuable increase in performance.
Another great way to improve your digestive system is by adding in probiotics. Probiotics introduce good bacteria into your gut, which helps restore the balance of gut bacteria. Additionally, probiotics help increase the absorption of protein, antioxidants, and other essential nutrients. After exercise, there are a ton of free radicals throughout your body. Antioxidants help fight off these free radicals, so the more antioxidants you can get into your system, the better. As most of us know, it’s also important to consume protein post-workout if we want to effectively recover muscles and increase muscle mass. The more protein you can absorb into your body, the more benefit you can get.
Probiotics have also been shown to improve your immune system and can reduce bloating, nausea, and intestinal inflammation. Keep in mind that there are many different kinds of probiotics available, so make sure you choose a strain that fits with your personal needs. Some common ways to add more probiotics into your diet include a probiotic supplement, kimchi, kombucha, and sauerkraut.
3. Recovery Foods
Recovery continues to be a popular topic of discussion. It used to be more of an afterthought, but these days it’s become an integral part of athletes’ training programs. With people pushing themselves harder each day, recovery has become a necessity. Eating the right foods plays a significant role in how quickly you’re able to recover. Tart cherry juice, turmeric, sweet potatoes, eggs, salmon, and spinach are some great examples of foods to eat to improve recovery. Techniques like stretching or active recovery with Marc Pro are also wonderful ways to enhance your recovery.
4. Alternative Flours
Many people are kicking refined flour to the curb. Refined flour has been linked to diabetes, digestive issues, slowed metabolism, and can lead to weight gain, stress, and headaches. Not only has refined flour been stripped of its nutrition, on top of that, artificial ingredients and additives are used to give its distinct white color. White refined flour creates a spike in insulin levels followed by a crash, which isn’t good for your body or mind. Health conscious people are now eliminating or limiting refined flour and using alternatives such as almond flour, coconut flour, quinoa flour, or chickpea flour. These alternative flours are nutrient dense and can provide many health benefits.
5. Low Sugar
High sugar diets have been linked to various health conditions such as heart disease, obesity, diabetes, and high blood pressure. People with high sugar diets also have a higher risk for cancer and depression. Not to mention, blood sugar swings cause big fluctuations in your energy levels, which leaves your body drained. Sugar can also interfere with the absorption of protein.
Eliminating sugars altogether isn’t necessarily the best option for athletes. After all, sugar is the quickest way to replenish depleted glycogen stores after a workout. Just be aware that refined and natural sugars are processed differently within the body, which is why many athletes choose natural, unprocessed sweeteners such as honey, pure maple syrup, or whole food sources such as fruit. Either way, lowering your overall sugar intake can have big benefits for your health.
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