A great body, defined muscles, and peak athletic performance aren’t created by workouts alone. Of course the gym can offer plenty of what you need to stay in top shape, from weights to motivation to professional instruction. But a tight body doesn’t just come from cardio and resistance training— it also comes from a healthy lifestyle. To function at your best, you’ll need plenty of water and at least six hours of sleep every night. You’ll also need to pay attention to what you eat.
A nutritionist or trainer can help you put together a complete diet plan that supports your workout goals, but in the meantime, you’ll gain plenty of ground by keeping these simple diet tips in mind.
Nutrition Tips for Athletes
- Eat breakfast! No matter what the day brings, start your morning with food. If you can, choose whole grains, fruit, and a lean protein like peanut butter. Yogurt also works well, and so does a serving of eggs or some whole grain toast with honey. Just eat. And drink coffee. A simple glass of juice isn’t enough, but it helps. Skip anything with corn syrup on the ingredient list.
- Don’t be afraid to snack throughout the day, but don’t snack mindlessly. It’s actually better to eat several small meals throughout the day then three big heaping plates with nothing in between.
- Don’t drink soda. Reach for water instead. Or milk. Or juice. Or a sports drink. Or anything at all really. Just leave the soft drinks alone.
- Protein is important, but make sure you’re choosing the right proteins. Go lean and opt for turkey, chicken, and fish. Try to eat at least three servings of fish per week, like wild caught salmon. And load up on almonds and other healthy nuts and legumes. Skip the beef and pork.
- If you’re about to head into a strenuous activity that will last more than two hours, load up on carbs and pasta beforehand to build your glycogen reserves. If not, moderate carbs are fine, just make sure you select whole grains when you can.