Updated: Apr 26
In order for professional athletes to maintain their incredibly rigorous training programs, they need to fuel their bodies the right way. And, their lean bodies definitely reflect how great their nutrition is. If you want to know the secret to a great diet that will keep you healthy and lean, then check out these do’s and don’ts of a champion-inspired diet:
1. Don’t Run on Empty
Don’t begin working out on an empty stomach or when you’re dehydrated. If you do, then you’ll hinder your body’s ability to perform at a top-notch level. Many athletes overdo their calorie intake and forget to load up on water and other fluids. Both will help you maintain a performance level that will increase, not decrease, as you near the end of your training session.
2. Don’t Skip Breakfast
You’ve heard it before: eating breakfast is important and gets you ready for the day. People who don’t eat breakfast tend to eat more during the day to compensate. Avoid that with a light breakfast that consists of protein, whole grains, and fruit.
If you’re not a heavy eater int the morning, don’t fret! You don’t have to sit down to a full meal of pancakes, eggs, toast, bacon and coffee. You can begin getting your body used to eating breakfast by starting with orange juice (without added sugars) then move up to orange juice and toast or a hard-boiled egg. By adding some substance to your morning routine, you’re breaking your fast, stabilizing your blood sugar and starting your day off right.
3. Eat Iron-Rich Foods
Women especially tend to be deficient in iron. Eating dark, leafy green foods can help with iron deficiency, as well as eating red meat, oatmeal, and fortified cereals.
4. Don’t restrict yourself
If you think the ticket to getting slim is to slash calories, think again. A common mistake that many make is to limit calorie intake in a way that is counterproductive.
It’s true that to lose weight you want less calories coming in than going out, but severely limiting your calories can backfire. Your body will struggle to hold onto every calorie because you’re eating schedule is so sparse. That starvation mode will mean more energy in, less out, and all our hard work exercising will be in vain. Be sure to eat on a regular schedule.
5. Don’t Count on Carbs
If you’re participating in a long-distance race or any type of endurance event, then carbs are the fuel you need for peak performance. Replenish your carb intake the night before, instead of immediately before a big run.
The best way to get the proper amount of carbs without overdoing it is to replace a small protein or vegetable at dinner with some sort of carb-rich food.
6. Eat to Recover
What you eat after a workout is just as important as what you eat before. A great source of both protein and carbs is chocolate milk. Drinking chocolate milk after a workout will help reduce muscle soreness and fatigue and speed recovery as well. If you can’t consume chocolate milk right away, be sure to do so within 20 minutes after a workout.
7. Eat Right
Eating right for an athlete means eating whole foods. They have a balanced diet loaded with fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains, protein and more. Stock up on single ingredient foods the next time you are at the grocery store, and work on cutting out anything artificial from your pantry.