The training regimen of a high-performance athlete can be grueling. The diet of a top athlete is carefully calibrated to maximize her performance and speed her recovery. Not everyone can compete in the top-tier, but a healthy diet matters to athletes at every level, whether you’re aiming for the Olympics or just trying to stay in shape. Try these five tips for foods to power your workouts and keep you going strong.
1. Replace Lost Electrolytes
Staying hydrated isn’t just about drinking enough water. When you work out hard, especially in hot, humid weather, vital minerals such as sodium, potassium, and magnesium are lost in your sweat. Make sure you replenish those nutrients when you rehydrate, to keep your body in balance. Since many commercial sports drinks are loaded with chemicals, artificial colors, and high-fructose corn syrup, stick to natural electrolyte drinks---or make your own by mixing 1/8 tsp sea salt into lemonade, dilute orange juice, or honey-sweetened coconut water.
2. Protein Power
Protein is the key to building muscle---and to feeding the muscles you have. A great source you can incorporate into any meal is whey. Try a smoothie made from almond milk, berries, and whey powder for a quick protein boost. Another good option is legumes, such as lentils or beans. They are loaded with vitamins, fiber, and antioxidants in addition to being a great low-fat protein source. And for those who eat eggs, they are a nearly ideal source of protein, with a perfect balance of amino acids.
3. Load Up On Greens
Don’t forget your veggies! Leafy greens and vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower are packed with vitamin A and vital phytochemicals, which boost your immune system and may be responsible for reducing your risk of disease. These veggies help replenish the minerals which you sweat out during intense exercise.
4. Choose the Right Carbs
Carbohydrates are crucial for keeping a high-performance athlete operating at top
capacity. But it’s important to select varieties with the most nutritional power. Highly processed refined grains have been stripped of most of their fiber and nutrients. Make sure you choose whole grains such as whole wheat, steel-cut oats, and quinoa, and avoid “white” carbs like white rice and white bread.
5. Secret Sports Superfood
Here’s a tip for the performance athlete—avocados! With more potassium than a banana, an avocado is loaded with fiber, vitamins, and heart-healthy fatty acids which help reduce cholesterol levels. Try enjoying half an avocado with a sprinkle of sea salt after an intense workout to help speed your recovery.