The Best Healthy Eating Tips for Athletes in Before, During, and After Training
Whether you are training for a marathon or an arm wrestling competition, the importance of a proper diet cannot be overstated. You need the most healthy diet to prevent injury and give your body the nutrients to push through the next training session. The best way to ensure you get the proper nutrition is to learn the basics and understand what you should and should not be eating.
1. Best nutrition tip for an athlete: Eat a balanced diet each day
If you are an athlete, you need to eat a balanced diet. Obviously, you need to fuel your body with the right nutrients. Your body is constantly changing, and you are more susceptible to injury if you don’t eat well enough.
To perform your best, you need to be in a good mood. So, what is the best way to eat well and stay in a good mood? Eat a balanced diet. A balanced diet consists of various foods, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and healthy fats.
Protein and fat should have a place in your diet and should be consumed daily. Each meal should contain various carbohydrates, protein, and fat combinations. Note that the protein and carbohydrates needed for weight training will differ from endurance training, with more carbohydrates needed for endurance and protein needed more for weight training.
It would help if you also experimented with new food to find what you like best.
Another important factor is getting enough sleep. A good way for an athlete to get enough sleep is to ensure they sleep in a cool and dark room. They should also ensure they are close enough to their TV or computer. It is important to remember that an athlete’s diet and sleep patterns are just as important as their training.
2. What should athletes eat before a workout?
2.1 Several Hours Before your workout
Your pre-workout meal depends on your workout style. Athletes should plan pre-workout meals 4-6 hours before their training. If you exercise in the evening, your lunch should include easy-to-digest foods high in complex carbohydrates, such as whole-grain pasta, whole-grain bread, fruits, and vegetables.
If you exercise first thing in the morning, a light breakfast of fruit and nut butter or toast with jelly and peanut butter will make you feel good.
Regardless of what you eat, drinking plenty of water before and during your morning workout would be best.
2.2 30–60 Minutes Before your workout
Depending on the type and duration of the training, you should have a snack and water 30 minutes before starting. You should target 50 grams of carbs and 5-10 grams of protein before a workout.
If you’re working for 30 minutes, you will probably need a large banana, a cookie, a fig bar, or a pretzel. For shorter workouts, you may not want to eat at all. However, you can get a small number of calories from the foods mentioned above.
To remain hydrated, you should also aim to consume about 1.5 to 2.5 cups of water about 30–60 minutes before exercise.
2.3 What to eat during the training section?
Proper hydration during exercise will vary based on your exercise intensity and duration, and even the weather. Drinking about 1.5 to 2 cups of water every 5 to 15 minutes per hour is recommended.
If exercising longer than 90 minutes, drink 1.5 to 2 cups of water that includes 6-8% carbohydrate solution every 5 to 15 minutes. It should be about 60 grams per hour. Also, you should replenish electrolytes with 300-600 mg of sodium, potassium, and magnesium.
If your workout is less than an hour, you do not need to consume anything extra.
3. What to eat after a workout
After a workout, your body needs to be replenished. It is important to take in the right amount of nutrients to build a new muscle and repair your existing muscle.
It is best to consume your post-workout meal closest to the time when you are done exercising. It should be within two hours after a long or intense workout in order to replenish glycogen stores. Research shows that ingesting 0.6 – 1.0 grams of carbohydrate per kilogram of body weight within 30 minutes. Then again every 2 hours for 4 – 6 hours after endurance exercise optimized glycogen stores. Similarly, adding 1.2g/kg of body weight of carbohydrates every 30 minutes for 3.5 hours had a same benefit.
Combining carbohydrates and protein may enhance recovery and glycogen stores versus carbohydrate intake alone. Studies have found that a 4:1 ratio of carbohydrate to protein is the ideal combination of nutrition.
Hydration after workout
When you are exercising, you should drink water because your body needs water. You do not have to drink the amount that you sweat or pee. But you should drink the amount you can comfortably consume without getting sick.
When you finish your workout, you can drink a sports drink that contains electrolytes. Electrolytes are minerals such as sodium, chloride, potassium, and magnesium that your body needs to function. These minerals take up space in your body, help your muscles contract, and help your brain function.
4. What athlete should eat on a gaming day?
Research shows that when planning game day meals, an athlete should consider certain factors such as age, activity levels, and daily diet. Breaking a meal plan down into an hourly or meal-based schedule based on the speed at which the food digests will avoid an upset stomach and maximize the absorption of nutrients.
It is important to focus on eating balanced meals and getting your required amounts of all five food groups: proteins, grains, vegetables, fruit, and dairy. Some carbohydrates are included in this diet. But it would help if you got them from a variety of foods. An unbalanced diet not only leads to poor performance but can also lead to avoidable injuries.
While game day preparation is an important aspect of success in competition, waiting until the pregame meal to consume vital nutrients or fulfill dietary needs does not work. Including these meals within a balanced diet will have the most effective results.
5. What should athletes avoid eating?
Avoid eating processed food that has too much sugar or fat. Many foods are unhealthy for athletes. These include fast food, soda, candy, and white bread. These foods can cause athletes to gain weight and fatigue quickly.
The best way to ensure a healthy diet for an athlete is to have a well-balanced diet rich in proteins, grains, vegetables, fruit, and dairy. It is also important to ensure you are taking in enough calories and water. Finally, make sure you get enough sleep.