1. Don’t Skip Meals
Eating at regular time intervals ensures the body is receiving a consistent stream of energy. Small frequent, well-
balanced meals provide the nutrients needed to sustain athletic performance. It is suggested that an athlete try to eating
every 2-4 hours.
2. Eat Carbohydrate Rich Foods for Energy
Carbohydrates are found in breads, cereals, pasta, fruit, vegetables and dairy foods. A diet rich in carbohydrates help
the body maintain muscle glycogen, one of the most important fuels for athletes. Glycogen, the body’s stored form of
carbohydrate is the most efficient energy source that can delay fatigue during intense or prolonged training.
3.Include Protein for Repair and Recovery
Protein is found in meat, beans, dairy, grains and vegetables. Dietary protein is needed to build and repair muscle
tissue. Protein can also help restore energy reserves. Following an intense workout, protein combined with
carbohydrate, can improve the body’s ability to replenish its glycogen stores.
4. Cut the Fat
A high fat diet is usually high in calories and artery clogging saturated fats. Athletes are advised to cut back on fried
foods, cream sauces and remove visible fat from meats. Added fats such as butter, margarine and salad dressings
should be used sparingly. Some fat in the diet is essential for health and performance. Fat occurs naturally in chicken,
turkey, fish, lean meats and lowfat dairy products. Good fats include almonds, walnuts, peanuts, sunflower seeds,
peanut butter and olive oil.
5. Eat a Wide Variety of Foods
The body needs over 40 nutrients every day to stay healthy. No one food or food group can supply all of these
nutrients. Athletes should avoid eating the same foods day after day. To meet nutritional needs for optimal
performance, athletes should try different foods from all food groups.
6. Balance Your Diet
Balance refers to how much carbohydrate, protein and fat is in a meal or snack. An athlete’s meal should have a lean
protein source (meat, beans, dairy), 2-3 servings of a carbohydrate source (whole wheat bread, pasta, rice), 2 or more
servings of vegetables or fruit. A small amount of added fat such as nuts mixed in a salad or olive oil for cooking will
balance the meal.
7. Ditch the “Junk”
Fast food, snack chips, cookies, candies and regular sodas are convenient and taste great but they are also a source of
“bad” fats and excess sugar. The “empty” calories these foods provide may give an athlete quick energy but they do
not supply the body with the nutrients it needs for top performance. Fruit, low fat cheese, fig bars, low fat yogurt, trail
mix can be an easy, great tasting substitute for many junk foods.
8. Keep Your Weight in Check
A stable weight is essential to top performance. Athletes generally carry more muscle than their nonathletic peers so
their weight may not “fit” into standard weight charts. Athletes should avoid excess body fat gain. Excess body fat is
“dead weight” which can slow an athlete down. To minimize fat weight gain, athletes should avoid junk foods and
fried foods. Consulting a doctor is recommended before starting any weight management program.
9. Stay Hydrated
Water is the most critical performance nutrient. Mild dehydration can decrease athletic success and interfere with
recovery. Athletes should not rely on thirst to decide when they need to drink. Athletes should start drinking fluids
before, during and after practice and competitions. If training in the heat or for a prolonged period of time, a sports
drink should be used instead of water.
10. Use Food First
Wholesome foods are the best source of performance nutrients. Too many athletes rely on nutritional supplements to
get them to the top of their game. Taking a supplement does not make up for poor nutritional choices.
Supplementation should be used only when athletes cannot meet their nutritional needs through routine food intake.
Athletes, who are taking or are considering taking a supplement, should consult with a sports medicine doctor and a
Registered Dietitian to establish if supplementation is needed.