Why A Balanced Diet Is Important for Athletes

Why A Balanced Diet Is Important for Athletes

📅June 9th, 2015, 07:13

Ever feel confused as the foods that were “healthy” for you to eat one day suddenly weren’t the next day? New fad diets seem to pop up every other week or so. One week carbs are bad. The next week, carbs are good and protein is bad. Two weeks later we’re being told that if we drink water with lemon juice, maple syrup, and cayenne pepper all the secrets of life will suddenly be unlocked and we’ll live without disease forever.

We could keep going for a while given the number of fad diets that pop up, but you get the point. The reality? In all this confusion, the most important aspect of nutrition to remember is that our bodies need all nutrients. As athletes, we tend to experience depletion more quickly, which means any diet that tells us that something is “bad” and/or to eliminate a food group or nutrient completely is usually not the right path to take. Lacking nutrients over time can leave the body unable to properly recover from workouts, which leads to overtraining symptoms and leaves you at a higher risk for injury. Eating a balanced diet is even more important for athletes as it help ensures that we absorb the benefits of all the training we are putting in.

Our nutritionist Stephanie Howe shares via her recent article on “How to Not Become a Crazy Person Around Food” for The North Face:

“As an athlete, the fuel I put in my body is extremely important. Nutrition plays a big role in my ability to train, recover, and race at a high level. I ask a lot out of my body, so I want to make sure the nutrients I consume will support all of my endeavors.

With so much contradictory nutrition information out there, how is one able to sort through all the bulls*#t to determine what a healthy diet looks like?

Well, it’s actually quite simple. Despite the claims of the (fill in the blank) diet craze of the week, most of these statements or opinion-based articles are not based on sound science. If you review the current literature on nutrition, the basics have not changed over the years. Sure there are new findings and more in depth studies on given nutrients and how they impact performance, but the core of nutrition is still very similar. Why? The truth of the matter is that our bodies need all nutrients: carbohydrates, fats, and protein to be healthy. I repeat, our bodies need all three nutrients: carbohydrates, fats, and protein. We also need vitamins and minerals, which are best absorbed from foods (not supplements) to perform at our optimal level.

So, what does optimal nutrition look like? The recommendations for an athlete (or healthy individual, for that matter) are as follows:”

Want to read the rest? Check it out on The North Face blog! #youbetter