Foods for athletes: Best natural foods for athletic performance

Foods for athletes
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As we all say, we need food for fuel our body. But, athletes needs the best food for better performance. Athletes trains all day and night to look best, perform at their peak without getting tired and injured. But, only training can not give the best performance result if it is not backed up great food and nutrition. All the elite athletes in the world spend more time eating good foods than training at the gym or at the ground. That is why they perform at their peak with consistency for longer period of time. We will cover every parts of foods for athletes for better athletic performances.

Difference between body-building nutrition and foods for athletes

This is where we all get confused. Body-building nutrition and foods for athletes. Yes, in many aspect they both might look same and some of the ingredients might be same, but they both are totally different things. In body-building we look for a high-protein food system where you have less amount of food and carbohydrates as source of food nutrients. Perhaps the quotient of protein portion in a body-building diet is nearly 50%. So, you are having only protein enrich food to build those big muscles or lose weights, whatever your goal is.

But, in performance base sports, where an athlete needs to go out there and perform at their peak, even reach their peak, you need to have a different plans, rather a different fuel system. Perhaps, it is still a protein based high-caloric diet, but with more carbohydrates and fats. Actually, to perform at their best one athlete would need energy throughout his game period, which is nearly 1.5 hours for a soccer game or 7 hours for a cricket game. So, they all need to have a high-caloric nutritious food with more carbohydrates and fats in their daily routine with a great amount of lean protein.

So, in conclusion, as you need a different kind of fuel for an different types of cars or vehicles to run at their top speed for longer, you need different kinds of foods for athletes to enhance their performance.

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The 5-5-3-2 rule for an athlete

Now, as a Ferrari would need some extra fuel than an ordinary car, an athletes body need food all throughout the day to have more energy, more focus, and less fatigue. The 5-5-3-2 rule suggests that an athlete needs to have meal 5 times a day where his/her foods will have 50% of carbohydrates, 30% of protein and 20% of fats. This rule will make sure that the athlete consumes enough calorie to have more energy and it will also make sure that the athlete will have less chance of muscle fatigue and muscle loss with 30% of lean protein in his/her diet. Though, we all need to make sure what the athlete is having and when he/she is having the food respective of the types of sports and needs. Otherwise, a digestive issues also can restrict an athlete from performing at their best.

Food Energy

As, we have already mentioned, athletes needs to have food as their energy system. However, they also need to look for what are the nutrients that will provide them the energy in the game time. It’s not uncommon for male and female athletes, especially those still growing, to have caloric needs exceeding 2,400-3,000 kcal and 2,200-2,700 kcal per day, respectively. The amount of energy found within a given food is dependent on the macronutrient (carbohydrate, protein and fat) content of the item.

Carbohydrates4 kcal/gm
Proteins4 kcal/gm
Fats9 kcal/gm

Foods for athletes for performance enhancements:

Carbohydrates for energy

Carbohydrates: Foods for athletes
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Carbohydrates are the most important part of daily nutrition of an athlete. To produce energy throughout the day and have less fatigue an athlete need more and more carbohydrates in his/her diet. To be precise according to 5-5-3-2 rule an athlete must consume 50% carbohydrates from his food and diet. Here are some best natural source of carbohydrates that helps in enhancing athlete’s performance-

  1. Whole Grains
  2. Potatoes
  3. Brown or Wild Rice
  4. Fresh fruits
  5. Vegetables

Proteins for Muscle/Bones

Proteins in foods for athletes
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Proteins are the most effective and must needed micro nutrients to maintain muscle mass and recover muscle loss. So, proteins are the integral part in the foods for athletes for performance enhancement. Here are the best protein sources for an athlete

  1. Lean meats
  2. Poultry
  3. Fish
  4. Eggs
  5. Milk
  6. Yogurt
  7. Soy
  8. Tofu
  9. Quinoa

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Fats for energy in foods for athletes

healthy fats to enhance athletic performance

As carbohydrates are needed for energy in high-intensity trainings or exercises, fats are needed for low to moderate intensity exercises and endurance sports. Healthy fats provides the bridge between energy storage and food system. Fats helps in accessing the stored carbohydrates when the main fuel source is already burned. That is why fats are very important in endurance sports like marathons, lawn tennis, cricket etc. However, choosing which fat to consume can be very tricky sometimes. So, here are the some natural healthy source of fats for athletic performance-

  1. Avocado
  2. Peanut butter
  3. Nuts and seeds
  4. Olive/ Canola Oil
  5. Coconut oil
  6. Flax seeds

OMEGA-3 for Heart/ Brain

All the sports have their mental and physical aspects. To create an environment in an athlete’s body to have a great physical and mental health it needs to OMEGA-3. It helps in to stay focused, breath well, have healthy heart in the most demanding situations. The sources of OMEGA-3 are-

  1. Cold Water fish
  2. Krill Oil

Nitrates for more endurance and intensity

Nitrates are one of the best natural performance enhancer that one athlete can have. Nitrates helps in endurance sports and it also helps in high-intensity, intermittent, short-duration efforts. All-in nitrates should be a must for any athlete who is looking to take his game to peak level. The best news is that we can have the amount of nitrates need for athletic performance, from the vegetables itself and it is very much available. Here are some great nitrates rich foods-

  1. Beetroot Juice (better than supplements)
  2. Spinach
  3. Celery
  4. Lettuce
  5. Parsley
  6. Cabbage


The most neglected part of foods for athletes is the hydration. It is proven that only 2 percentage of drop in hydration level can impact athletic performance. So, staying hydrated throughout the day is very much important.

 A general rule for training is to consume a minimum:

  • Two cups of fluid prior to training
  • Four to six ounces of fluid every 15 minutes of exercise

Drinking nearly 3-4 liters water while having a training day is essential for an athlete. The hydration option includes-

  1. Water
  2. Milk
  3. Sports drinks
  4. Fruit Juices


So, to be able to perform at your best an athlete have to fuel his body for that purpose. If one has to enhance his athletic performance. he will have to look after his intake, his foods and lifestyle. Proper planning, foods with necessary micro-nutrients and hydration can lead into an excel of athletic performance.

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