As an athlete, your ultimate goal is top performance. To achieve this, you have to understand the impact the food you eat will have on your body. Each meal you consume counts and foods containing high nutritional value will boost your energy levels, promote muscle growth, and help to repair your muscles. Before buying any food from the store, check the label for its nutritional value to determine whether or not the food is a healthy option. Natural foods should be your first choice instead of processed foods. This post discusses nine foods an athlete should never eat.
1. White Flour Food Products
White rice, pasta, and bread are highly processed foods and are not ideal for an athlete. These types of food lack fiber which negatively affects your energy levels and contributes to weight gain. White flour products have very little nutritional value and apart from raising your blood sugar levels, it increases the risks of type-2 diabetes. Carbs enhance performance and to reap maximum benefits, opt for whole grain bread, pasta or rice and include leafy greens in your diet.
As surprising as this might be, alcohol slows down the recovery of your muscles after a tough training. Beer may contain a few carbs but it’s also a diuretic. This means taking alcohol after a performance will lead to dehydration. If you’re preparing for a huge event, avoid alcohol until the event is over. Any type of alcohol is a depressant and if you must drink, only do so in moderation and remember to take lots of water.
3. Diet Soda
It’s common to see many people accompanying their meals with soda or diet soda. As an athlete, taking soda is detrimental to your health. It contains artificial sweeteners responsible for heart-related conditions, weight gain, headaches, diabetes, and digestive problems. Drink plain water instead, or add some lemon, lime or orange slices.
4. Sugary Sports Drinks and Energy Drinks
Sugar in the sports drinks doesn’t replace burned calories, instead, it increases the production of insulin by your body. Insulin is a fat storage hormone and you wouldn’t want to have insulin spikes in your body. Ditch this habit if your aim is to have a six pack and good looking muscles. The more insulin you take, the more your body stores fat. Doing this over a long period will lead to obesity, making it hard to achieve that athletic look. Energy drinks contain caffeine and other additives. They are not healthy for your heart, and since you’re engaging in rigorous activities, you’ll be putting your heart under a lot of pressure.
5. Sugary Cereal
Again, artificial sugar does more harm to your body. Starting your day off with a bowl of cereals is not ideal for an athlete due to the high sugar content. Plus, most cereals lack real nutritional value. Too much sugar will negatively affect your performance. Take healthy alternatives like oatmeal, eggs, and smoothies instead.
Caffeine has its benefits to the body, but athletes opt for green tea instead of coffee. Indulging in excessive coffee increases the release of cortisol, epinephrine, and norepinephrine, which are stress hormones. These substances are harmful to your body and they increase ‘bad’ cholesterol levels, blood pressure, and heart rate. These are not the effects you’d want your body to feel if you’re a serious athlete.
7. Flavored Yogurt
Despite its protein content, flavored yogurt contains high sugar content which is not recommended for any athlete or even an ordinary person. Choose plain yogurt, and add healthy toppings such as nuts, honey, or fresh berries.
8. Fried Foods
Fried foods fall in the big NO group for any athlete. Avoid them at all costs, especially before your training sessions or competition. First, they take too long to digest, putting stress on your digestive system. This could make your workout really uncomfortable and you’ll end-up underperforming. Secondly, fried foods are full of unhealthy fats which can clog your veins and arteries, a red flag for heart diseases and strokes.
9. Foods with High Salt Intake
Hydration is a very important aspect for every athlete and should be your primary focus during training or competition. Foods high in salt cause imbalances in your body fluids, which can affect your overall performance. Avoid packaged and processed foods which carry high sodium content. When eating at a restaurant, always be conscious of the food you order, and stick to healthier options.
Food for Thought
A balanced meal is critical in supplying your body with the necessary nutrient levels to enhance your performance as an athlete. Make sure you understand the nutritional value of each meal you take. Take good care of your body and the results will surprise you.
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