What Foods You Should Be Eating As An Athlete
When you are an athlete, it is important that your body is in the best shape possible. Though there are many ways to improve the health of your body, one of the most important and effective ways to do this is by focusing on the foods that you are eating. Following a healthy diet and incorporating all three of the macronutrients into your diet can help athletes reach the top of their game. In this article, we will discuss the reasons that it is important to eat healthy as an athlete, identify the three macronutrients, and list seven foods that are rich in macronutrients.
Importance of Dieting for Athletes
Athletes put a great deal of stress on their bodies in order to train for the sports that they play. To improve their skills, athletes must regularly participate in cardiovascular activities, strength training, and more. These exercises are not easy, and, as such, athletes must ensure that their bodies have the proper fuel that will power them through their training, and this fuel comes as a result of following a proper diet. Additionally, just as important as the workout itself, is the recovery. This is because athletes are not able to perform at their best if they have not properly recovered from their previous workouts. Eating correctly can help athletes to recover more effectively and efficiently, which ensures that they are always ready to go the next time that they work out. Understanding how to maintain a healthy diet gives athletes the ability to elevate their athletic performances.
Macronutrients are the nutrients that humans utilize, and therefore must consume, in the largest quantities. There are three macronutrients: carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. Though you should look to consume all of these macronutrients in different ratios, it is important to make sure that you are including all three of them into your diet. According to Wellness Dietitian, Lindsey Wohlford, who works with the University of Texas, macronutrients provide the body with the energy that it needs in order to function and they help to maintain the structures and systems that make up the body. All three of the macronutrients have different functions, and we will go into greater detail about those functions below.
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020-2025 recommends that 45-65 percent of the calories that adults consume should be in the form of carbohydrates. Carbohydrates serve as the primary source of fuel for the body, which is extremely important for athletes, as they need this energy in order to participate in athletic activities. Due to the fact that carbohydrates are able to provide fuel for the body with so much efficiency, they are especially important for athletes who play sports that require long periods of physical activity. Even though carbohydrates are particularly important for athletes who play these types of sports, all athletes, regardless of what sport they play, should look to incorporate healthy carbohydrates into their diets.
Proteins are essential for athletes because they provide the body with the amino acids that are necessary to complete a variety of vital functions. Some of the functions that amino acids complete include the building, maintenance, and repairing of muscles and tissues within the body. Though consuming protein is important for everyone, athletes who participate in heavy lifting and training should be especially sure to include this macronutrient in their diets. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020-2025 recommends that adults should take in 10-35% of their daily calories in the form of protein.
Fats allow the body to complete necessary processes, and, as such, they are vital for athletes to include in their diets. Some of the primary functions of fats include helping the body to metabolize hormones and to provide a concentrated source of energy. Though carbohydrates act as the body’s primary source of energy, athletes who play sports that require particularly high amounts of energy should be sure to include fats in their diets to give themselves an extra boost. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020-2025 recommends that adults should seek to take in 20-23% of their daily calories in the form of fats.
Foods That Athletes Should Consume
Now that we have discussed the three macronutrients that all athletes should be consuming and the ratios at which they should be incorporated into the diet, we are sure that you are interested in learning about some of the foods that contain these macronutrients. Below, we have discussed seven foods that are rich in these macronutrients.
Sweet potatoes are high in healthy carbohydrates, and, as such, they are a great source of energy for athletes. One sweet potato contains approximately twenty-four grams of carbohydrates. However, sweet potatoes do not just contain healthy carbohydrates - they are rich in potassium, Vitamin A, and Vitamin C, as well. One of the best things about sweet potatoes is that they are an extremely versatile food that can be served as a part of a variety of different dishes.
Quinoa is another versatile food that can be served in a wide variety of ways. Though the primary macronutrient in quinoa is carbohydrates, this dish contains protein, as well. One cup of quinoa contains almost forty grams of carbohydrates and approximately eight grams of protein. Quinoa also contains a variety of other nutrients, such as fiber, magnesium, potassium, and phosphorus. Because it contains both protein and fiber, quinoa can help individuals who are looking to lose weight. Finally, quinoa is known as a complete protein source, which means that it contains all nine of the essential amino acids.
Eggs are a great source of protein, and they provide a variety of other health benefits, as well. The US Department of Agriculture has reported that one medium egg, that has been boiled or poached, contains 5.5 grams of protein. Additionally, eggs contain other healthy nutrients, including:
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin E
- Vitamin K
Because of all of the nutrients that are present in eggs, this food provides a variety of health benefits that are especially important for athletes. One of the most important benefits of eggs is that they help build and maintain muscles. Additionally, eggs can assist in weight loss, as they help people to feel full for long periods of time.
In addition to being extremely refreshing and versatile snacks, fruits are also a great source of healthy carbohydrates. Some of the best fruits to consume if you are looking to add healthy carbohydrates to your diet include: bananas, mangoes, and apples. These three fruits all also contain abundant amounts of Vitamin A and Vitamin C. Because of all of the healthy carbohydrates that are in fruits, they are a perfect snack for athletes to enjoy before a practice or game.
Avocados can serve as a great source of healthy fats for athletes. One avocado contains 29 grams of fat. One of the fats that is most abundant in avocados is oleic acid, which can act as an anti-inflammatory. Additionally, avocados contain high amounts of potassium and fiber. Because avocados are such a versatile food, they can be included in a variety of meals and can be consumed for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
Much like avocados, flax seeds are also rich in healthy fats. These seeds are great sources of omega-3 fatty acids and fiber. A two-tablespoon serving of flaxseeds includes almost nine grams of fat and almost six grams of fiber. Because of this, flax seeds help people to stay full for longer, which can be beneficial for athletes who are looking to lose weight for their sport. Additionally, flax seeds have been shown to lower cholesterol levels. Flax seeds can be enjoyed in a variety of ways, such as blended into a smoothie, on top of yogurt, or cooked into baked goods.
Garbanzo beans, also known as chickpeas, can provide the body with essential carbohydrates and proteins. One cup of these healthy legumes contains over 19 grams of carbohydrates and 5 grams of protein. Garbanzo beans also contain fiber and calcium. Because they contain these nutrients, garbanzo beans are extremely beneficial for both heart and digestive health. Garbanzo beans can be consumed in a variety of ways. They can be incorporated into a meal or turned into hummus for a delicious and nutritious snack.
Due to the intense physical demands of being an athlete, it is vital that these individuals are properly taking care of their bodies. One of the most important aspects of self-care on which athletes should be focusing is their diet. Athletes must take special care to ensure that the three macronutrients - carbohydrates, proteins, and fats - are all being incorporated into their diets in the proper ratios. Luckily, there are many foods that include these nutrients. These foods can be prepared in a variety of ways that are both delicious and nutritious. We hope that this article was helpful if you are looking to refine your diet in order to improve your athletic performances.