Athlete Diet Basics

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 10,636
    Registered Dietitian Roxanne Moore of Sodexo provides an overview of what a sports diet is and how to adhere to it on a daily basis for optimal performance.

    Roxanne E Moore: Hi! I am Roxanne Moore, Registered Dietitian and Director of Wellness for Sodexo Schools. One important part of athletic performance is nutrition conditioning and more specifically what you eat and drink as well as when you consume the food or beverage.

    How much and what types of food an athlete should eat depends upon the type of sport, length of activity, the intensity of the activity and the athlete's food preferences as well as what the athlete's gut can tolerate.

    Because there are many factors that need to be considered before telling an athlete what to eat, it's important to recognize that there is no one nutrition conditioning plan that works for all athletes. The needs of a distance runner differ significantly from a linebacker to a shot-put thrower.

    Some athletes function on three meals a day and one or two snacks, other athletes need to eat six or eight times a day. The frequency of eating is based upon their appetite, what their gut can tolerate and the athlete's training schedule.

    While athletes may have different food needs, all athletes need to eat a variety of foods from all food groups. This helps ensure they're consuming all the nutrients they need for peak performance.

    The basic Choose MyPlate Tool is a simple guide to get an athlete started when planning meals. About 50% of a meal should consist of fruits and vegetables, 25% lean protein, and 25% wholesome grains.

    Eating meals like this helps to produce a daily meal plan consisting of about 50-65% carbohydrates, 15-30% fat and 12-15% protein depending upon the types of food selected for each food group. Some food choices are obviously fattier than others. For example, beef ribs contain more fat than a nice fillet of white fish.

    For some athletes the ratio of protein may need to be increased. This can easily be accomplished by consuming healthy snacks between meals that consist of a protein or a protein-carbohydrate combination. An accredited and licensed sports nutritionist can help an athlete determine the unique mix of food that can help them achieve peak performance.

    To find the sports nutritionist in your area, go to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics website at eatright.

    org. Make sure your nutritionist is licensed. While some people may have experienced personal success with their diet and exercise plan, this does not make them a nutrition expert, and in many cases they are practicing medical nutrition therapy without a license.

    A nutrition expert takes into consideration your medical history, medications, supplement use or like thereof and potential risks and more. So play it safe, seek expert help.