An Athlete’s Diet

by Louise | July 15th, 2009 | Eating Tips

picWhen people talk about what athletes should eat and drink, some of the popular words that come up are protein, carbohydrates, potassium, iron, and calcium. They talk about taking extra supplements to get faster, stronger, and overall better performance. In reality, there should only be one difference between the diet of an athlete and non-athlete. Can you guess what it is? Amount. That’s it.

“So taking vitamin and mineral supplements won’t do anything for me?” Well, that depends. Currently, there is no evidence that taking extra vitamins will improve performance. However, many athletes and non-athletes alike simple do not get enough nutrients in the first place. Thus, taking a supplement will help you but to the same extent that the vitamins and minerals obtained by eating a variety of normal foods would do. The only case in which supplements will help you is if you already have a deficiency from a certain time. Similarly, when looking to build muscle, it is not necessary that you consume high amount of protein. However, it is necessary to obtain enough protein through a balanced diet.

If you increase the amount you exercise, you should increase the amount you eat in general. Certainly, in the situation where you are trying to lose weight, you will not look to eat more, however, supplements should still not be necessary. In normal circumstances, deficiencies really only arise if your diet becomes unbalanced. You can achieve peak performance by training well and eating a variety of foods in order to be sure that you get all the nutrients you need.

If you know that your diet currently has a deficiency in a nutrient, your best course of action is simply to eat more foods that are naturally high in that respective nutrient. Bananas are excellent sources of potassium, skim milk is a low calorie source of calcium, and red meats are very high in iron. With a little bit of research it is easy to find foods that will balance your diet quickly.

Remember, if you already have a balanced diet, the only extra supplement your body needs for increased exercise is food, plain ol’ food.

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All health and fitness information is provided for educational purposes. Please consult with your physician before beginning any exercise regimen.