Is an Athlete’s Diet Different from a Non-Athlete’s Diet?
Essentially, an athlete’s diet is not that different compared to a non-athlete’s diet. Just like anyone who’s working to become healthy, athletes need nutrients from various food groups. Furthermore, athletes require the same vitamins and minerals like everyone else.
However, we can say that athletes need to be more meticulous when it comes to what they eat. This is because they might need to eat more or less of specific foods depending on:
- The type of sports they engage in
- How intense their training is
- The amount of time they spend training
Normally, sports nutrition should consist of more calories than normal. Thus, it’s not surprising to find an athlete consuming more than 2,200 to 2,700 calories. Some even go over the 2.400 to 3,000 kcal range.
To put that into perspective, health institutions agree that in general, a woman’s daily calorie intake requirement is 2,000 while men’s is 2,500. So an athlete’s diet should consist of what kind of nutrients?
An Athlete’s Diet Should Consist of What Foods?
To better understand sports nutrition, here are what athletes need to remember for each of their macros.
An athlete’s diet should consist of CARBOHYDRATES
Since athletes and non-athletes alike primarily get their energy from carbs, this macro remains to be the biggest source of calories (about 55% to 60% of their diets).
There are two types of carbohydrates: Simple and complex or starch. Simple sugars are those that our body can break down easily, hence they give us a “burst” of energy. On the other hand, we need more time to digest complex sugars.
While you can find these two types naturally in foods, they can also be added to processed or refined products. The ultimate suggestion is for athletes to get their carbs from foods that naturally contain them. Natural carbs can be found in healthy foods like fruits and veggies, whole grain products, and milk.
An athlete’s diet should consist of FATS
The second biggest source of calories for athletes is fats (no more than 30%). Fats, like carbs, are an important source of energy and they also support other vital functions like nutrient absorption.
Experts strictly advise athletes to monitor their fat intake. This is because too much of this macro can result in weight gain and heighten the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
As a general rule, athletes should refrain from eating saturated and trans fats (from animal products) because they tend to increase low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or what we know as “bad cholesterol.”
The best sources, according to experts, are foods like avocados, oily fish, nuts, and olive oil.