Healthy Meals for Athletes
To maintain tip-top conditioning, athletes must eat healthy foods and a balanced diet 1. Whether you are a weekend warrior or world-class athlete, there are a variety of food choices that will keep you at your best. The following foods will provide healthy meals for athletes 1.
Physical activity causes the body to use a lot of energy. To maintain proper fuel levels, athletes must eat foods that are high in fiber, protein, calcium, vitamins, minerals, iron and complex carbohydrates to maintain peak physical conditioning 1.
A breakfast that includes a glass of orange juice, along with single servings of oatmeal and blueberries, will provide a balanced amount of nutrients necessary to maintain energy levels. An 8 oz glass of orange juice provides an excellent source of potassium and vitamin C. A single serving of oatmeal contains whole grains that are rich in fiber and heart healthy. Oatmeal provides extended energy by removing fat and cholesterol from the bloodstream. Blueberries contain antioxidants that reduce the oxidation damage free radicals cause to cells during periods of physical activity. Blueberries support healthy blood pressure and are rich in vitamin C and fiber.
Blackberries, strawberries and blackberries can be substituted for blueberries.
Lunch time options are numerous, but a lunch that consists of peanut butter, fresh fruit and yogurt will positively affect an athlete’s overall health 2. A serving of peanut butter spread across two slices of bread will prove very beneficial 2. Peanut butter is a great source of protein, vitamins and minerals 2. It’s also a great way to reduce the risk of heart disease. A cup of yogurt can provide a delicious, calcium rich snack that is rich in vitamin B12, which aids in muscle metabolism. Fresh fruit is a great way to round up the lunch hour; suggested fruits include single servings of apples, strawberries, oranges or bananas.
Healthy fuel choices for dinner can be found in lean cuts of red meat and protein-rich poultry. However, fish is arguably the best choice for an athlete. Fish contains essential omega -3 fatty acids that promote healthy hearts and support circulation. Vegetables and carbohydrates are also an essential part of the dinner menu. Dark green leafy vegetables provide essential vitamins and minerals to muscles. Sweet potatoes round out the dinner by providing beta carotene, vitamins C and E and iron.
A meal consisting of a serving of grilled or baked salmon, baked sweet potatoes and steamed cabbage will provide athletes with the necessary vitamins and minerals needed to keep them competitive.
Water should be the beverage of choice for every meal. Water is as important as food to ensuring an athlete's overall ability to compete and stay healthy. Water intake should vary depending on your height and weight. However, it is recommended that everyone drink at least eight 8 oz glasses of water per day.
Nuts are also an excellent source of grain and they also aid in improving circulation.
Avoid overloading on carbohydrates and caffeine.
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