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Athlete Diet

The importance of diet in all sports types, such as endurance, athletic, team, aerobic, and anaerobic sports, is apparent and clear. It is evident that the longer and more intense the physical activity is, needs more calories and energy to be burnt. Therefore, the athlete's diet should be organized as correctly as the athletic persons need. Food provides the energy, and the proper diet is essential for an athlete to develop the best performance. The lack of diet can lead to the reduction of an athlete's efficiency. There is a direct correlation between the athlete's diet and a fit body that brings joy for a person to have an athletic body. Follow the principles of a healthy diet designed dedicatedly for the athlete.
60 % of success in sports is related to the diet, and the foods a participant is getting through their life.
Diet and nutrition have an important role in the time and energy an athlete is expending at a professional level.

Sport Nutrition | Athletes Diet

What is an athlete's diet?

The composition of a diet for an athlete is somewhat different from the diet of an ordinary client. Although the food pyramid is a great guide in this regard, the amount of food consumed by each group in the athlete's diet varies depending on the type of exercise and the amount of training and the time of their process. Besides, the calories required to depend on the size, age, sex, the amount of exercise and movement, and therefore, the number of meals varies from person to person.
If you want to know the best diet for athletes, you have to look at what our nutritionists present to you here.

Intensity of sports

Short–term intensive activity will need energy production through anaerobic ways because the exercise is as fast as the body can't access enough oxygen. Anaerobic activities use more glucose and glycogen.
The usage of glycogen in sport such as Soccer, Basketball, and swimming is higher than in other sports.
Sport and activities such as jogging, dancing, gymnastics, and cycling are medium intensity activities that half of the fuel is from muscle glycogen. Another half is from blood sugar and fatty acids.
Low intensive activities like walking are based on produced energy from aerobic pathways. They burn more fat than other workouts, which is why walking can be useful and hopeful for weight loss.

Duration of sports

The longer you exercise, the greater the share of fat in energy production.
For long-term endurance activities like Orienteering, Triathlon, Rowing, Water polo, Ultimate Frisbee, and Ultimate Marathon, the fat will produce 60 – 70 % energy. However, carbohydrates' availability for making energy pathways is an important factor for the burn of fats and fat metabolism. Therefore, blood sugar and muscle glycogen are limiting factors for any kind of sport and exercise.

If the BMI range:

Is In normal range, the current weight can be used to plan a diet for that person based on that.
Is under the normal range, we use the weight of BMI in 22.
Is more than 25, we should examine if they are working out for how much of time. If athletes have started exercising for a long time, we should test the body composition and focus on their body fat and ask them if they want to lose weight or not. Pro athletes' BMI may be more than the normal range due to their muscle mass.

Sport nutrition and Nutritional needs of exercises

There are two types of athletes:
Endurance athletes
Strength athletes

The number of macronutrients and energy intake and their expenditure is different from sport to sport, so the dietitians should consider the athletes' adequate ones.
Carbohydrates, Proteins, and fats are the probable fuels needed for muscle contraction and their shrinkage.
The term and intensity of sport and workouts define the ratio of each fuel's consumption to be burnt during exercise. Level of physical fitness, athlete's gender, and the food intake are other factors of describing the fuel of exercise.

An athlete diet should consist of

Energy: The amount of energy depends on the type of sport and exercise they are taking. It will be calculated based on protein intake.
A typical athlete who works out about 30 – 40 min per day three times a week needs about 25-35 kcal/kg body weight or 1800-2400 calories.
A professional athlete may need 150- 200 kcal/kg body weight based on their activity's term and intensity. You can contact your nutritionist to know how many calories you need due to your workout.

: Drinking fluids regularly can help the maintenance of body temperature at the right level. Athletes who work out in hot places can lose a lot of water. The imbalance between loss and intake of fluids can impact the body functions due to dehydration. Dehydration can result from heatstroke. Men sweat more than women; therefore, they need more water. Dehydration of more than 3-4% typically impairs endurance exercise function. Drinking cold water is better than warm because it can reduce body temperature, blood flow to peripheral tissues.

Endurance athletes


Low intensity - medium-term workouts: 5 – 7 g per kilogram bodyweight
Medium intensity: 7- 12 g per kilogram bodyweight
High intensity: 10 – 12 g per kilogram bodyweight
Glucose and glucose stored, called glycogen, are two types of carbohydrates that produce major energy. During endurance sports that last more than 90 minutes, like Marathon, glycogen stores of muscle gradually will be emptied. Therefore, continuing the exercise with high intensity cannot be possible. This situation is named "hitting the wall" that athletes are exhausted, and they have to stop or lower their speed. There are diets carb-loading diets to prevent fatigue.
Train low strategy is a high-fat diet with low cholesterol for about two weeks along with regular exercises. Immediately after that, there is a high carb diet with lower exercises for 1-3 days before the event to increase endogenous muscle glycogen.


1.2 – 1.7 gram per kilogram body weight, maximum: 2 g per kilogram bodyweight
Studies have shown that using food-based proteins is better than protein supplements.

Strength Athletes and Team Sport Athletes


Low and medium intensity: 6g and more per kilogram bodyweight
High intensity: 8 – 10 g per kilogram bodyweight


1.4 – 1.7 gram per kilogram body weight, maximum: 2 g per kilogram bodyweight
Protein for Bulking: athletes interested in gaining muscle and in the duration of bulking intake of protein is recommended 1.2 – 2 grams per kilogram body weight. Studies have shown that at least 30-gram high biological value protein in every meal can make protein production to the maximum level.


The nutritionists and dietitians calculate the calories equal to the amount of protein and carbohydrates. After that, they will figure out how many grams an athlete needs to get from fats. It is about 20-35 % of total calories. Due to the increase in the intensity of the sport, the fat burning will decrease. The fat burning in the running is higher than in cycling.

Stress and pressure on muscles can lead to inflammation, bruises, and tissue destruction. A diet high in omega-3, MUFA, etc., have anti-inflammatory effects and can delay muscle pains. Fruits and vegetables, e.g. broccoli, Spinach, tomatoes, chia seed, linseed, walnut, cow meat, and green peas, are good sources of omega-3 fats. Monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA) like olive oil, peanut, canola oil, avocado can inhibit and reduce inflammation through particular pathways.

Athlete Diet

What is the best time for meals and workouts for athletes?

Athletes should eat meals 3 and a half or 4 hours before each workout to prevent the gastrointestinal consequences and side effects such as vomiting, indigestion, and nausea.
It also helps balance the insulin level in the blood and prevent hypoglycemia and drop in blood sugar. This meal should be low-fat and low-fibre. It is suitable to have a reasonable amount of salad and vegetables.
Athletic people can have a small high carbohydrate, low fat, moderate protein, and low fibre snack, especially from a group of whole grains. This snack helps to regulate the glucose of blood and preventing hypoglycemia in the first hour of exercise. You have to avoid consuming carbonated and sugar-added drinks.
If exercise lasts more than 1 hour, 0.7-gram carbohydrate per kilogram body weight is required for each hour of workout. The sports drinks containing 6-8 percent carbohydrate can be used during workouts.
If the exercise duration exceeds three hours, the athletic person may need 90-ram carbs per hour among the exercises.

The benefits of consuming carbohydrates during exercise:
♦ Maintenance of normal range of glucose
♦ Supplying adequate fuel for sport activity
♦ Increasing the performance during exercise

Athletes should avoid consuming high glycemic index foods, foods high in protein, fibre, fat, and drinks with more than 8 % glucose.

At the end of the workout, athletes should make up and replace the depleted of glycogen and stored carbs in their muscles.
Dietitians have recommended that 20 – 30 minutes after the physical activity, the athletes should intake 1-1.5 gram per kilogram body weight of high glycemic carbohydrates and 15-25 g high biological value protein. This protein can help to revive and regenerate the muscle proteins.
Athletes should drink adequate water, fluids, and sports drinks that the colour of urine turns to pale yellow.
The athletic diet should contain an adequate amount of sodium to make up for sodium loss during sweating.
The athletes should use sufficient portions of vegetables and fruits to maintain the required potassium.
Athletes should not eliminate any meals because it can reduce the energy needed for their bodies.
Athletes should absolutely avoid drinking alcohol before physical activities and workout, during meals, and after the exercises.

Standard sport drinks

Standard and common sports drinks supply water, carbohydrate, sodium, and potassium. It should be considered that the density of carbohydrates in natural juice drinks is higher than sports drinks, and due to the density of carbs, the natural juice drinks should be diluted in half.
The grape juice should be diluted more than half.
The synthetic drinks, sodas, energy drinks, and other drinks should be diluted based on their carbohydrate density contents shown on their labels.

Athlete diet to gain muscle

One of the best aims for an athlete's diet is to gain muscles and weight management.
The weight gain process should be steady and continues and prevent excess fat deposition. A weight gain of more than 2 pounds per week can lead to an increase in body fat.
Men athletes can have a moderate increase in weight, about 0.5 – 1 pound lean mass in a week, and the range for women is 0.25 - 0.75 pound of body mass.
The increase in energy expenditure should be besides strength training that is needed for muscle growth.
High-calorie foods like nuts, nut butter, avocado are good sources for meals and snacks. Bens, lentils, lean meats, and dairy products can provide about 250-500 more calories each day.
The amount of weight gain depends on genetic, the number of sessions and recoveries, and the type of exercise.
One of the disadvantages of weight gain is the ratio of water and glycogen that can be an obstacle for sports performance.

Athletes related diseases

Anorexia Athletica (AA) is a kind of eating disorder that is especially for athletes. The athletic persons who participate in sports such as swimming, long distances running, yoga, and gymnastics are more susceptible to Anorexia Athletica.

FAT or female athlete triad is a syndrome for athletic women who follow a long-term diet with low energy intake, Amenorrhea or the absence of menstruation, and osteoporosis.

AED athletic energy deficit is also known as Relative energy deficiency in sport. It is a syndrome related to increased risk of bone fractures, decreased concentration, irritability, depression. Low energy expenditure is connected to Amenorrhea and ovarian suppression that is related to sports inefficiency.

MD or muscle dysmorphia, also known as bigorexia, is a condition that you may notice something wrong with the body shape. This is an eating disorder that athletes who feel their muscles are not big enough. So they turn to strict diets, high protein supplements, overdose supplements, and steroid hormones.

Hard and intense endurance exercises can lead to a temporary reduction of serum ferritin and hemoglobin. This condition is called Sports anemia. This situation is due to the increased plasma volume.

Nutrients deficiency in Athletes

Athletes who follow diets without some nutrients groups like paleo, keto, and vegan diets are more likely to have deficiencies like Calcium, Zinc, Iron, Vitamin B12.
Athletes on a strict vegan diet can suffer from B12 deficiency, and they have to take some supplements.
Studies in 2013 have shown deficiencies in athlete men such as vitamin A 44%, Vitamin C 80%, vitamin D 92%, Folate 84%, Calcium 52%, Magnesium 60%.
The deficiencies in professional athlete women based on studies conducted in 2010 are like folate 48%, Calcium 24%, Magnesium 19%, Iron 4% that can lead to increased risk of injury.
Increasing the edible iron and iron supplementation is the only way to cure deficiency and recovery iron status.

Nutrients deficiency in Athlete

Athlete diet to lose weight

The ideal weight loss is about 1 pound (0.5 kg) per week. The best body fat percentage for men and women is 5% and 12 %, respectively. Sports dietitians can help athletes to find out the best level of fat based on the specifications. The weight loss should be appropriately organized because of crash diets. Cutting calories can have harmful effects on body functions.
An athlete's diet for fat loss is something low carb, sugar-free, and high in fibre that can be very helpful. The dietitians and nutritionists design the protein distribution during the day to prevent calorie collection and high intake, leading to an abnormal energy-producing way.
Other tips for weight loss are alcohol withdrawal, eating slowly, getting enough sleep and fluids.

Athlete diet and LCHF diet

The LCHF diet is a low carb (under 25%) and high at (more than 60 % of total daily energy) that leads to using muscle fats during exercises and can increase the sport performance by less dependence on glycogen and LCHF can strengthen muscle capacity for fat burning for 5 days.

Vegan Athlete Diet

Positive benefits of consumption of athlete plant-based foods after exercises or having an athlete vegan diet is anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects, especially in purple and red fruits or vegetables. Tart cherry juice and its antioxidant components can reduce inflammation, muscle injuries, and oxidative stress after Marathon running.

Athlete Ketogenic Diet

A diet based on the metabolism of fats instead of nutrients can be a successful way for fat burning and losing weight, but how an athlete can follow a keto diet? Can an endurance athlete use a keto diet? Keto diet and ketosis do not have a significant effect on improving and enhancement of endurance sports. Elimination of carbohydrates results in less fuel. Starting a keto diet needs much more time to adapt to the body's metabolism pathways to choose the nutrients as a fuel to produce energy.

Let us know if you have any questions or comments.