High intensity sports require a lot of physical effort and your body has to be prepared! A healthy diet for athletes needs to have balanced meals to ensure the consumption of all the nutrients that give resistance, strength and energy.

A good amount of fruits and vegetables, as well as good quality fibers, proteins and fats will guarantee an efficient performance in training and especially in competitions, in addition to providing a shorter recovery time after intense wear.

Some harms of an inadequate diet – such as unscheduled weight change, nutritional deficiencies, tiredness and increased risk of injuries – can reduce your evolution and performance, so be aware!

The amount that should be consumed from each food group is guided individually, since even the type of sport practiced influences the need for consumption.

Anaerobic activities, that is, those of high intensity and short duration such as bodybuilding and speed racing, need a greater amount of carbohydrates to provide energy to the muscle quickly.

As for the practice of aerobic activities, the recommendation is that the diet be rich in lipids, as sports such as football, swimming and cycling require the muscle to provide energy for longer.

Diet is directly linked to how the body responds to physical stimuli, so you need to know the best way to consume nutrients and get their benefits.

What can’t be missing from a diet for athletes?

Professional athletes need to ingest a lot of calories due to the intense training routine and the composition of the diet can change when competitions approach, with the aim of further improving performance.

General recommendations include a balanced consumption of proteins, cereals, fruits, vegetables and fats. Ideally, meals should be high in calories and well divided to compensate for the energy expenditure of training and avoid loss of lean body mass.

Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory foods can also be helpful for muscle recovery, as they play an important role in reducing the normal inflammation caused by exercise.

How about some more tips that will help you understand how to eat better and ensure more benefits for practicing sports?

1. Proteins

The amount of protein recommended per day is higher for high-performance athletes, reaching up to 2 g per kg of the athlete’s weight, but care must be taken with excessive consumption that can cause the opposite effect to that expected.

Increased risk of dehydration, difficulty recovering muscle energy stores and accelerated loss of calcium – an important nutrient in muscle contraction – are just some of the harms to health that excess protein in the diet can cause.

Still, this nutrient is one of the most important when it comes to muscle development and strengthening. A diet for practitioners of physical activity needs to be rich in building foods , which help in the formation of lean mass.

That’s why it’s so important to have a balanced diet and be careful with the use of supplements without indication! It is possible to consume an adequate amount of protein only through foods such as:

  • Meat
  • Fish
  • Eggs
  • Yogurt
  • Milk
  • lean cheeses
  • Chickpea
  • Soy
  • Lentil

Plant-based proteins, such as beans, when combined with carbohydrate sources, such as rice, provide an adequate amount of this nutrient. And this combination favors greater performance in activities and less muscle damage.

But, to get a good result in a competition, in addition to working the muscles, it is necessary that they have energy. So while proteins are important, they don’t act alone!

2. Carbohydrates

Many people believe that proteins should be the focus of the diet, but carbohydrates are the main sources of energy for muscles during physical activity. For this reason, they should be consumed both before and after any sports practice.

In addition, the muscle is able to form a stock with the energy provided by carbohydrates – called glycogen – and use it during short-term physical exercises.

In this way, it is easy to understand why long periods of fasting and low carb diets are not indicated for athletes. A restricted diet of this nutrient can cause fatigue and a longer muscle recovery process.

Choosing the type of carbohydrate well is essential to obtain its benefits, so avoid foods such as sweets and sugary drinks. The priority should be natural foods and the least industrialized possible, such as:

  • whole grain breads
  • brown rice
  • Oat
  • fruits
  • vegetables

In general, nutritionists recommend that carbohydrate consumption should be approximately 45% of the total calories in the diet, but in weeks of sporting events and competitions, the ideal is to increase the amount of this nutrient.

Now that you understand that athletes should have a diet rich in proteins and carbohydrates, you can’t go wrong! But it doesn’t stop there, because a healthy and balanced diet needs to have more than that.

3. Good quality fats

In a proper diet, this important food group cannot be left out! And we’re not talking about coconut oil or fried foods, but foods like:

  • Avocado
  • Nuts
  • chestnuts
  • Salmon
  • squeaky
  • flaxseed

These foods are rich in fat and should not be feared, as they offer numerous benefits, are necessary for the normal functioning of the organism and provide plenty of energy and satiety.

For athletes, the nutritional recommendation for good fats may vary between 20% and 30% of the total caloric value consumed in the normal diet and may change according to the competition calendar.

Its high caloric value is essential to offset the energy expenditure of exercising. In addition, lipids play an important hormonal role and in the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins such as vitamins A, D, E and K.

Another benefit of this nutrient is its high caloric value, which promotes satiety and energy, in addition to adding flavor to various preparations! Foods in this group are also sources of Omega 3 , a compound with benefits not only for the body, but for the mind as well.

4. Water

Controlling fluid intake is as important as nutrition for athletes, as during exercise the body eliminates water in order to regulate body temperature.

To avoid dehydration and its consequences, it is recommended to drink water before, during and after training, as this substance is essential for all the chemical processes that occur in the human body.

Athletes’ water replacement does not necessarily have to be just water. Isotonic drinks and foods rich in this mineral can be part of the post-workout diet with the intention of hydrating and recovering muscle energy stores.

But you need to be aware, especially during competitions, as dehydration can affect overall performance, cause increased heart rate and problems regulating body temperature.

That is, when in doubt, already have a glass of water to guarantee!

5. Varied diet

Escape the monotonous diet: a healthy diet needs different foods to provide all the vitamins and minerals that the human body needs for its normal functioning and for the practice of physical exercises.

B vitamins – such as folic acid and cobalamin – are essential for muscle regeneration. Micronutrients such as vitamin C, E, selenium and zinc have a very important antioxidant function for those who practice sports.

Dark leafy greens might not be everyone’s favorite dish, but they’re worth including in your diet as they’re great sources of calcium, iron, and vitamin A.

In short: that nutritionist talk that the more colorful the dish, the better, it’s worth it!

There’s no secret to following a balanced diet and it doesn’t have to be difficult, just give priority to healthy, varied foods and in the right amount and you’ll be able to achieve your goals!

The best way to guarantee an adequate nutritional intake for you is through a sports nutritionist. Monitoring with this professional is essential, as a diet for high-performance athletes needs to be individualized and supervised.

But, now that you’ve understood the importance of nutrition for high-performance athletes, it’s worth starting to follow our tips to improve results in training and competitions, as well as muscle response and recovery!