Nutrition plays a crucial role for athletes in achieving an edge among their competitors. You may work out as hard as you want, practice every day, and get 8-9 hours of sleep, but if your diet is off, you will never achieve that six-pack or gain much stamina.
The old phrase that muscles are built in the kitchen still holds, and this is true no matter your goal: your success is determined by what you put onto your plate.
An athlete should not limit their diet to calories in and calories out. It is also about fuel. The right and quality foods can increase your energy, stimulate muscle growth, and help repair muscles. Foods low in calories may not always be right for you.
It is important to choose nutrient-dense foods, which means focusing on foods rich in vitamins and minerals that will aid in keeping your body in the best shape. Make sure you are not eating the wrong foods.
While cheat days may be helpful to your health, this does not mean you should indulge regularly. We have preached cheat days and continue to believe in them for many years. However, you must pay attention to your eating habits whether you intend to compete in a pickup basketball game or a men's physique competition.
When it comes to eating, a committed athlete will avoid specific foods. Unfortunately, it is far simpler for these athletes to identify the incorrect foods in grocery shops than find the proper ones. Before highlighting what, an athlete should not eat, let us look at what an athlete's diet should be like.
What Pro Athletes Eat?
The essential nutrition is the same regardless of whether you're a marathon runner, weekend warrior, or just a regular person who likes to be active throughout the week. Elite athletes can still use the three principles: eating to fuel their bodies, heal the body, and eat healthily.
Do professional athletes require a different diet from all others? Surprisingly, no. Unless you consume nutritionally rich food, pro athletes do not require a special diet. Here are some guidelines to help you prepare for a fitness event.
- Consume lots of fruits, vegetables, and legumes.
- Consume lots of whole-grain cereals, including bread, rice, and pasta.
- Lunch and dinner should include lean meats, fish, poultry, or vegetarian options such as tofu, legumes, or chicken.
- You can also add milk, yogurt, cheeses, or other dairy products such as soy milk.
- Get in plenty of water.
Although athletes may need to consume more calories to fuel long runs or build muscle, they are usually satisfied by eating more food. They eat mindfully to understand the importance of fueling for performance and recovery.
However, eating like an elite athlete does not necessarily mean that you eat the same food as them. There is no one 'athlete diet.' Athletes choose what they eat depending on their sport, size, and training goals. This is the same as what everyone else should do.
But what athletes should not eat applies to all. So, with no further ado, let us cross out the list of foods that you would not be picking in your next grocery shopping.
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Foods an Athlete Would Never Eat
1. Diet Soda
Athletes view each meal as an opportunity for refuelling. How much protein can I include in this meal? What can I do to increase good fats? It's what drives them to perform.
Artificial sweeteners, which are nutritionally empty, should not be included in their diet. They are not only harmful to your health, but they can also increase your risk of weight gain and health problems.
According to a study, artificial sweeteners fool the body into believing it is eating real food. Because they are over 100 times sweeter than the real stuff. So instead of gulping the whole soda can in a go, it's better to eat the real thing in moderation.
2. Canned Soup
Although canned soup can be convenient, they aren't necessarily healthier than other highly processed snacks. Some soups are so processed and rich in salts that they overshadow the health benefits. Their long shelf life can be enough for the heads-up.
It would rather be better to consume low-sodium or homemade soups. The body requires sodium, especially when sweating it out during your training session to function appropriately. Too much sodium, on the other hand, can lead to high blood pressure.
3. Rice Cakes
Rice cakes have been a staple diet snack for many years, and they've held that "healthy" reputation. They have a low-calorie count, but athletes still require calories to maintain their energy levels.
You'll also feel the crunch of these little snacks, which will cause your blood sugar to soar. Rice cakes can have a glycemic score of up to 91, comparable to pure glucose's index of 100. You can opt for an English muffin or some fruit for better carbs.
4. Sugary Cereal
While artificial sugar is not a good idea, overeating natural sugar is equally bad. Active men can eat more calories than the average male, but that doesn't mean they should eat more sugary foods every day.
An excellent way to start your day is with oat cereal and honey. Sugar can also cause an insulin spike, which will lead your body to store more calories resulting in more stored fat.
5. White Bread
White pasta, rice, and bread are acceptable but not a great option. These refined foods are devoid of nutrients and fiber.
Refined white flour is made by removing fiber, wheat germ, and essential vitamins from the wheat kernel. What's left is a processed food product that raises insulin and contributes to energy drops and weight gain.
For better options, use whole-grain products only; white flour will not give you the long-lasting energy you need during your sessions.
6. Microwave Popcorn
This movie staple is not recommended for a person who wants to eat healthily. Popcorn, which is rich in unhealthy fats, high levels of sodium, and sometimes laced by chemicals, does not fuel an athlete's training or recovery from a hard workout.
Also, microwave popcorn bags are lined with perfluorooctanoic acids (PFOA), which is also used in Teflon pots.
The flip side is that if you either air pop or heat the corn with some coconut oil, the corn becomes a superfood. This superfood boasts high levels of antioxidants and plenty of satiating fibre.
Granola is a healthy pick 'n' mix snack made with fibrous oatmeal as its base. However, according to research, most cereals are loaded with sugar, excessive fat, and many calories.
Do you ever stop at 1/4 cup, the recommended serving? Granola can be a good option for high-activity men, but the disadvantages outweigh the benefits. A bowl of oats and a large scoop of nut-butter is a better choice.
Consuming anything in moderation, especially alcohol is the key to maintaining a high level of fitness. How many serious athletes you know regularly shoots beers or toss off alcohol?
Alcohol has a lot of adverse effects on your physical health. Too much alcohol inhibits muscle recovery, impairs motor abilities, and reduces strength and sprint speed. It also dehydrates you since it is a diuretic.
According to research, alcohol also suppresses the immune system. It reduces the body's capacity to recover, thus increasing your risk of disease and injury.
9. A Meal Without Protein
An athlete must have his protein. Protein is essential for the repair and strengthening of muscle tissue. It is crucial for maintaining adequacy, balance, and variety. It also helps reduce blood sugar levels and increases satiety.
Oatmeal may be the breakfast of champions, but not without egg whites and a large scoop of nut butter.
10. Sports Drinks
A sports drink is not required unless you do a long and intense workout. These electrolyte-enhanced drinks can contain as much as 34 grams of sugar. Athletes should drink water and replenish their energy with other beverages.
Tart cherry juice and coconut water have been called miracle-workout elixirs. It is also supported by research.
A study published on Obesity showed that people who drink one or more sports drinks per day gain more weight over three years than those who do not.
11. Nutrition Bars
The leading cause of an issue with the nutrition bars is all the sugars and fats in most bars, whether a snack, protein, or energy. Protein bars are high in calories to aid muscle growth, but they can quickly add weight if you eat them after a workout or if you don't exercise.
Snacking bars and nutrition bars are often high in saturated fats and sugar bombs, with added-ins such as nuts, dried fruits, and chocolate. You should choose homemade bars with simple, understandable ingredients.
12. Flavoured Yogurt
Flavoured yogurt cups can be portable and delicious, but they are loaded with sugar.
This will make it challenging to achieve a lean and shredded body and increase your chances of having a sugar crash. Greek yogurt is a better choice for serious fitness and health-conscious individuals because it is protein-packed and low in sugar.
Although carbs are not always bad, you should stock up on the best sources of carbs, such as quinoa, black rice, and whole-wheat pasta. White pasta is devoid of fiber and bran. Unrefined foods are better for you, as they preserve more nutrients. For athletes, calories should come from foods with the most nutritional value.
14. Fruit Juice
Fruit juice is deceiving. You see it as a substitute for fruit that has essential vitamins and minerals. However, it is also loaded with sugar. It lacks the fruit's most crucial component: the skin and fibrous flesh.
This prevents it from absorbing most of its nutrients. Most of which is fructose; the sugar is quickly sent to your liver. This triggers insulin production and can be stored as fat.
However, grape juice or unsweetened cherry juice can help you recover from a hard workout. It keeps your blood flowing well, boosts your cardiovascular health, and provides antioxidants.
15. Bottled Salad Dressing
While you wouldn't put cream, fat, or sugar on important vegetables, that's exactly what you do when you use salad dressings. You don't have to harm your health by using chemicals, preservatives, and processed oils.
Instead, choose olive oil or vinegar-based dressings. You can customize these dressings with your favourite spices for a unique flavour. Avocado or tahini are great options if you want creaminess in your dressing.
Every athlete will have different nutritional needs, depending on their activity and body requirements. You should be aware that your body needs to have a proper athlete meal plan comprised of the right amount of calories and macros. Keep this list in mind to always be cautious of what you eat.
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