How to eat like an Athlete – words Alexa Wang
Sport is a serious business. The sheer amount of attention and money that goes onto sport at a local, national and international level means that you must take it super-seriously if you are to succeed. It’s no longer just a fun pastime.
There is a constant challenge for athletes to come up with legitimate ways to break new ground and push the performance boundaries to the limit. If you want do this – either to perform at a professional level or to simply be able to reach your maximum athletic potential – then you need to do two things. Practice a lot and get your diet right.
Without the right fuel from food and drink you will never reach your peak on the pitch (or wherever you compete!). Here’s our guide on how to eat like an Athlete…
Planning is crucial
The first thing to consider is that an athlete’s diet HAS to be properly planned. That means a properly prepared menu for every day and a well thought structure. Every meal has a purpose and every day needs to provide a balance of nutrients that delivers a healthy body. Every week, too, should be mapped out, possibly with the use of a simple calendar planner if that helps. That balance involves lots of things but the two key focuses for a beginner should be in carbohydrates and protein.
Carbs give you energy
That balance needs to include the right level of carbohydrates. These are broken down to provide your primary source of energy. Basically, this powers your workout. Athletes tends to have a high-carb diet to boost their energy reserves.
Better Health gives some handy advice on what that means in practice. It states:
*those carrying out ‘light intensity’ exercise of about half an hour a day need 3-5g per kg of body weight in their diet every day
*for those doing about double that amount, it rises to 5-7g
*an endurance exercise regime – of one to three hours a day – needs 6-10g
*finally, four or more hours of exercise should be powered by 8-12g per kg every day.
Protein helps your body to cope
Protein, meanwhile, is the key to helping your body to grow, recover and repair. It ensures that your body breaks down fat and not muscle.
Like the example above, the amount you need to consume depends on your activity levels. A person who does little exercise needs about 0.8-1g of protein per kg per day. For athletes this rises to 1-1.4g and for those with the most high-impact programmes it should be 1.5-1.7g.
Protein can be consumed with food, but many athletes also look to top up their intake with supplements. The website www.fysiqalnutrition.com has a series of suggestions of how to make protein powders an ingredient in shakes and snacks.
You can’t ignore water when considering the athlete diet basics. Dehydration should be guarded against at all costs. Don’t wait until you are thirsty – drink plenty, especially if you need to perform sport or exercise in high temperatures.
A beginner needs to get up to speed with all of this pretty quickly. Once you’re there, you’re ready to move onto the advice in this piece from Bodybuilding.com to move onto then slightly more complex things to consider when building an athlete’s diet.