Healthy Eating as an Athlete

Someone using a journal while eating a healthy meal

If you’re an athlete, you may focus on working out to get stronger, faster and tougher. However, eating right is just as important for your health and your sport. Eating healthy for an athlete looks different than for other people.

Your nutrition requirements will vary based on the type of sport and skills you need:

  • For strength training, you need to eat more protein to help your muscles grow. Eat plenty of vegetables and dairy to build strong bones as well to support your training.
  • If you’re a runner or participate in another sport that requires endurance, you need carbs and healthy fats to give you energy. These should be complex carbs like vegetables and fruits rather than sugary carbs.
  • For the sport that requires both endurance and strength, you need carbs and fat to keep you going and protein to help your body recover faster.
  • Top carb resources include natural fruits and vegetables, grains, and pasta. Stay away from candy bars, donuts and other sugary sources of carbs. You will burn out quickly and these foods can cause dehydration.

It’s recommended that you fuel your body for a big sporting event several days ahead. Eat small amounts of food the day of the event to prevent stomach cramps and other issues. Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated. If you will sweat a lot for a long time, you may need more than water. Drink something that contains electrolytes to help you stay strong.

After the event or a long workout, refuel with a combination of carbs and protein. The carbs will help you continue to have enough energy while the protein helps your muscles to recover. Healthy eating is important for everyone, but it looks a little different for athletes.