Healthy Diet for Athletes

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A healthy diet for athletes is vital because they use up a lot of calories and need more nutrition. Everyone needs to be healthy, but an athlete has special nutritional and caloric needs.

healthy diet for athletes

A healthy diet for athletes is a necessary requirement to provide adequate nutrition and calories. If they don’t eat healthy and have the proper athletes nutrition, they will not be able to perform well and will also suffer physically.

Athletes diet and Different nutritional needs

Athletes diet will depend on what kind of sports they take part in and for how long. A weekend athlete will have different needs from a professional Olympic athlete who trains everyday. A body builder or weight lifter’s dietary requirements will vary from that of a swimmer. 

Some athletes need nutrition for short bursts of activity; others need for activity along with endurance. There are sports that require building of muscle mass, while other sports require the athlete to be lean and agile. Women athletes have specific requirements as do vegetarians. 

Carbohydrate loading

Between 50-70 percent of the caloric requirements of a healthy diet for athletes ought to come from carbohydrates. The body digests carbs easily and stores them as glycogen. Athletes can then burn the glycogen. Learn more about carbohydrates for athletes.

Fats and proteins are also important

It is essential that sufficient fats are also eaten as essential fatty acids are important. They provide energy reserves and omega 3 fatty acids have antioxidant properties. 

Proteins are necessary for bodybuilding and muscle repair. Athletes nutrition guidelines- fats and proteins.


Special requirements of women athletes

Women athletes have somewhat different nutritional requirements. They need more iron, calcium, Vitamin B and zinc.

Iron deficiency can lead to anemia and cause fatigue in women, not allowing them to function to full capacity.

Calcium is particularly important for bone repair and to avoid osteoporosis. 

Females athletes need to add these nutrients to prevent amenorrhea, eating problems and bone loss. 

Can vegetarian athletes get all the nutrients?

Judicious diet planning is vital for vegetarian and vegan athletes, otherwise their performance and health can suffer. A healthy diet for athletes who are vegetarian should comprise all the foods except the meat and eggs, unless they are not fully vegetarian and do eat eggs.

Protein sources for vegetarians include legumes, nuts, all dairy products, seeds and soy products like soy meal, soy flour, soy granules or chunks, tofu. Sprouting increases the protein and vitamin content of whole dry beans (like kidney beans, black eyed beans, butter beans, etc.), whole legumes and seeds. 

However, vegetarians and even strict vegans can face some dietary problems.

  • Female vegetarian athletes have to be careful to take in enough iron so that they do not suffer from iron deficiency anemia that can limit endurance. 
  • Vegans may suffer from a deficiency in sulfur containing amino acids that can compromise their protein intake. 
  • Then again, Vitamin B12 is difficult to get from vegetarian foods. If the athlete does not take supplements then he or she can become anemic. 
  • To ensure a healthy diet for athletes, vegetarians should make sure that they are getting omega 3 fatty acids supplements, which are from vegetarian sources.
  • Alternatively, they should take sufficient quantities of nuts like Brazil nuts, walnuts, hazelnuts, pecans, flax, sesame and hemp seeds or their cold pressed oils, spirulina and/or chlorella (algae).

Athletes nutrition  before, during and after sports events.

Eating more, eating right: fuel for athletes

Often  fitness nutrition information is contradictory. How would you know what is right for your needs?

What are energy drinks? How do you differentiate and find out which is the best? 

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