The best nutrition for athletes

The best training ensures the maximum physical output without using all the body's resources; therefore it’s important for the body to get enough of the right nourishment.

Which foods are best?

Diet is an essential factor to achieve the best performance in whatever exercise or sport you do. In other words, your engine needs the proper fuel. But everyone’s needs are different. The ideal diet for an athlete is the one that is satisfying and ensures a complete variety of nutrients and an adequate quantity of liquids.

A balanced diet for an athlete should consist of 60 per cent carbohydrates, preferably complex (the main source of energy for the muscles comes from carbohydrates, and is released gradually). Grains are excellent, better if whole, and also starches and legumes.

Proteins are important, especially those from white meat, fish, eggs and milk. These are necessary to prevent the body from consuming the substances that make up the muscle tissues.

Even fats are fundamental (especially vegetable-based) because they produce the energy necessary in prolonged efforts that require strength: Peanuts, almonds, walnuts, olive oil and soya are ideal.

Isotonic drinks are recommended because they rehydrate the body tissue and supply minerals and vitamins.

Fruit and vegetables are natural sources of vitamins, mineral salts and fibre especially when eaten fresh and raw because none of the goodness is lost.

The athlete's diet should always be light, easy to digest and easily absorbed by the body.

What should be limited?

These should be limited or avoided altogether:

  • preserved and canned foods
  • alcohol
  • processed foods
  • rich and processed sauces
  • sugar-loaded, carbonated drinks
  • sweets rich in fats and sugar
  • excessive quantities of tea and coffee
  • sugar and fructose

What to eat and how often

Ideally, an athlete should consume five small meals a day including two snacks, based on the duration and intensity of the physical activity, in order to achieve the best performance.

The diet can be adjusted gradually to new nutritional needs. The amounts will depend on the amount of energy consumed every day based on:

  • activity levels
  • basal metabolism
  • daily routine
  • the person’s sex
  • stress level

It’s ideal to wait an hour after breakfast and at least two to three hours after the main meals before training. At the end of the training session, it is advisable to wait one hour before eating.

If you follow these guidelines you can; improve physical strength and technical ability whilst learning more about your body and what it needs to ensure better general health.

The athlete's diet should always be light, easy to digest and easily absorbed by the body.”