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The Essential Nutrition Tips for Athletes

The Essential Nutrition Tips for Athletes

There are some essential nutrition tips for athletes that can truly make a difference in a sports star’s life. These tips are not easy; they ask athletes to give up certain delicious foods, like bread and cake, and also adopt some difficult habits, like drinking large amounts of water and consuming lots of fruit and vegetables. Not everyone can handle this kind of diet so consistently. But, at the same time, not everyone can be an athlete.

Whether you are an aspiring athlete or a seasoned pro, you could benefit from a lesson on which foods will lead to victory, and which ones will lead to defeat.

Load Up on Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are the fuel that power athletes through their difficult commitments and regiments. When you eat carbohydrates, your body changes them into glucose, a type of sugar. Glycogen gets stored in your body. Exercise then changes glycogen into energy, allowing you to power through your workout or game.

There are many sources of carbohydrates available. The healthiest options for athletes include sweet potatoes, brown rice, quinoa, bananas, oats, dried fruit, and whole-grain pasta. Athletes should fill up on carbs for three to four days leading up to the game.

Fruits and Vegetables

Fruits and vegetables deliver energy and nutrients to an athlete’s body. They also offer antioxidants, which can help fight off illnesses like the flu or a cold. Athletes preparing for high-energy sporting events will want to maintain a steady consumption of fruits and vegetables.

To that end, you should build routines that reinforce your diet. Plan out how many fruits and vegetables you will eat daily. Your goal should be to eat at least five servings a day, with a variety of colors. It is important to note, by the way, that a serving is about the size of a baseball.


Athletes need protein in their diet so they can maintain their muscles. However, too much protein can put a strain on an athlete’s kidneys. It is very important, therefore, that you understand your body and how much protein it requires. The average person needs just under two grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. For a 200 pound athlete, that is about 150 grams of protein per day.

Avoid protein supplements that put a strain on your kidneys. Instead, eat high-quality protein, like fish, nuts, poultry, lean meats, beans, eggs, or milk. Milk is especially to good drink after a game, as it provides both carbohydrates and protein.

Stay Hydrated

Even just a small drop in hydration levels can detrimentally impact athletic performance. As a rule, athletes should drink about two cups of fluid prior to training, and then four to six ounces of fluid every 15 minutes of exercise.

You can drink water, milk, sports, and 100 percent fruit juice to maintain your hydration. But you should be aware that 100 percent fruit juice and sports drinks tend to be high in sugar content. Sugar can give you a quick jolt of energy, but it quickly leaves your body in a “sugar crash.” Juices also typically lack the health benefits that come from eating fruits plain. You should only drink sports drinks when you are playing the game and need a fast hydration and electrolyte replacement.

Avoid Processed Foods

Of all the essential nutrition tips for athletes, it is perhaps most important that they heed this one: athletes should avoid processed foods at all costs, especially if they are coming close to a competition. Processed foods can make you feel drowsy and cause a loss of concentration. To that end, athletes should stay far away from sugary breakfast cereals, tinned vegetables, bread, microwave or ready-made meals, and cakes.

This may look like a plea to give up truly pleasurable parts of your life. But an athlete’s life is so rigorous and physically draining that you will feel much, much better in the long run if you stick to a healthier diet.

Tips for Game Day

There are several rules for game day nutrition that all athletes should know:

  • Nutritional preparation for the “big game day” does not happen on the day alone. If you want to play successfully, you need to prep your body in the months leading up to the competition.
  • Do not experiment with new dietary protocols on the day of the game. Dietary changes are for training or practice. That way, you can see if you can tolerate them.
  • Your meals should get smaller and smaller as you approach the big game. Furthermore, you want to limit fat, dairy, and fibrous carbohydrates on the day of the event, as these could cause gastrointestinal problems.

By following those tips, athletes can feel more confident and comfortable with their abilities on game day.

Tips for On-The-Go Eating

Athletes are constantly on the go, both on and off the field. This means that you are eating in cars, on planes, or even while walking down the street. You need fuel to power you through those hours between meals. Athletes should pack foods for on-the-go purposes. Some options to consider include:

  • Hard-boiled eggs
  • Small boxes of non-sugary cereal
  • Fruits, salads, vegetables
  • Nuts, seeds, peanut butter, trail mix

Jerky meat can also be an excellent snack for an on-the-go athlete. High in protein and easy to carry, jerky meat comes in a variety of flavors. If you want a delicious big game option, you can buy venison jerky online at Lee’s Market Jerky.


An athlete’s life, though it may seem like just an opportunity to play a fun game, is far from comfortable. Aside from the constant back-breaking workouts and training, athletes must also sustain a high degree of self-control. They must follow strict dietary guidelines. Everything about an athlete’s diet—what they eat, when they eat, how much they eat—should be regimented and crafted to create the greatest potential for athletic achievement.

In this article, athletes should find some ideas for how to manage their diets. Of course, everybody’s diet is different. As such, what applies to one athlete does not necessarily apply to another. That is why, more than anything, it is important that you pay attention to how your body responds to different foods. Use those observations to guide your diet moving forward.

The Essential Nutrition Tips for Athletes Infographic

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