Whether you're gunning for an Olympic medal or just want to win your over-40 softball league championship, the right foods can make or break your results. Athletes need more protein, carbohydrates, B vitamins, and minerals such as potassium and iron, Colorado State University Extension says. When it comes to nutrition for athletes, you can't beat fresh produce. Full of nutrients that active body's demand, fruits and vegetables should be part of every athlete's diet.
Blueberries are an ideal fruit for athletes because, along with being rich in carbohydrates, contain extremely high levels of antioxidants such as vitamin C. World's Healthiest Foods reports that blueberries contain more antioxidants than most other commonly eaten foods.
Metabolism, especially fat oxidation, bumps up during exercise. The byproduct of this process, free radicals, destroy healthy cells. The antioxidants found in blueberries can effectively combat free radicals.
Blueberries can be eaten on their own as part of yogurt, a sugar-free jam, or over a bowl of whole grain cereal. They tend, however, to be high in pesticide residue, so be sure to thoroughly wash blueberries before you eat them.
The Center for the Science in The Public Interest ranks sweet potatoes as one of the 10 top healthiest foods in the world. Although the minerals and vitamins in sweet potatoes are beneficial to overall health, it's the low glycemic index carbs that are a boon to athletes.
The rate of absorption of a carbohydrate source is known as the food's GI. Foods that are absorbed quickly have a high GI and those that are absorbed slowly are low GI. Sweet potatoes, unlike their white cousins, have a very low GI. Because a sweet potato's carbs are absorbed gradually, they can give you sustained energy throughout your training session or competition.
Baked sweet potatoes are a great substitute for high glycemic side dishes such as white rice and pasta.
Yogurt's protein, calcium and riboflavin are crucial for athletic performance. Protein helps repair overworked muscles, calcium is important for muscle contraction and riboflavin helps enzymes work.
Yogurt is rich in high quality protein, containing nearly 13 g per cup, according to World's Healthiest Foods. A single serving takes care of nearly half of your day's calcium requirement as well. Riboflavin, a vitamin that is required for enzymatic activity, is often low in female athletes, according to Colorado State University Extension.
Yogurt is a convenient and portable high-protein snack for athletes that can be eaten before or after training.