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Proper Nutrition for Athletes: 5 Simple Tips

Updated: Aug 27, 2023

Have you ever uttered the phrase “I am running on empty”? Basically, you are saying that you are worn out or lack motivation. If you are not fueling properly, it can be quite true. Knowing your needs is crucial to training and racing success.

Why is Nutrition Important for Athletes?

Several factors impact our bodies, especially weight loss. There is more to it than calories in and calories out. Eating as little as possible and restricting calories causes our bodies to go into survival mode.

In essence, the body will burn fewer calories and conserve as much energy as possible. The available calories will be used for the most basic functions. Your body will also react by creating cortisol, a stress hormone that could have additional negative effects on the body.

Am I Eating Enough?

So how do you know if you’re eating enough for your activity level? Here are a few things to look for that should give you a better idea that your caloric intake might need to be higher.

  1. You’re Constantly Tired

  2. You’ve Hit a Training Plateau

  3. You’re Tired but Unable to Sleep

  4. Brain Fog

  5. You Aren’t Pooping Regularly

How to Eat More Calories?

So What Steps Can You Take To Fuel Up The Tank?

There are plenty of dietary guidelines out there, but most don’t consider intense exercise. Many of the so-called bodyweight calculators can tell you what your ideal weight should be for your age, gender, and height but they don’t consider body size and overall muscle mass.

As a coach, I typically recommend that my athletes speak with a registered dietitian or nutritionist. They are certainly more qualified and can address an individual’s needs and develop a plan based on that athlete’s goals. They are also usually willing to work with me in developing an overall training plan that is best for each individual.

Some simple suggestions that you can implement right away.

  • Add more fiber to your diet

  • Consume more fruits and vegetables

  • Drink plenty of water

  • Consider a whole food multivitamin (consult your doctor or nutritionist first)

Most importantly, listen to your body. Take a daily inventory of how you are feeling before during and after training. Are you fatigued? Are you gaining or losing weight? Have you hit a wall in your training? Hunger pains? Don’t ignore these signs as your body will certainly give you clues to what it needs.

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