To follow the perfect athlete diet, you need to avoid foods with no nutritional value. Keep reading to make healthier food choices to enhance your athletic performance.
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The Most Unhealthy Foods That Can Ruin an Athlete Diet
Healthy Eating for Athletes
Be the best athlete you can be by eating the best foods and avoiding the worst!
Being an athlete can put a great deal of stress and exertion on the body. In order to be an athlete and maintain optimal health and wellness, your body needs the right nutrients, vitamins, and minerals to push through the intense physical activity. Young athletes, in particular, can have a hard time eating optimally for sport.
Between not being in control of what’s purchased at the grocery store, lack of understanding of how critical proper nutrition is and an environment of junk foods, eating nutritiously can be hard.
Unfortunately for the young athlete, nutrient requirements are greater for them. Not only due to the increased demands from sports but also to meet continual growth and developmental needs.
If they maintain a lifestyle of eating the worst foods for athletes, they won’t be able to get the nutrients they need to perform properly.
How can they win tournaments if they don’t have enough nutrients in their body
While it’s not realistic to eat perfectly all of the time, there are particular foods and drinks to avoid.
These foods increase the burden and stress on the body and can ultimately cause an athlete to experience decreased performance and an increased chance of illness, aches, pain, stiffness, and even injury.
Foods Athletes Should Not Eat
To reach maximum athletic performance, you need to keep your body healthy and active. That won’t happen if you continue to consume unhealthy foods.
These foods, in particular, should be avoided in the diet of an athlete, no matter the age or sport!
1. Sports Drinks
Traditional, conventional sports drinks are not good for the body. They contain synthetic nutrients, dyes, and other highly processed ingredients.
They promise to provide hydration and replenish electrolytes, but they’re filled with synthetic substances that may be damaging to your health. They also are high in sugar and don’t contain any true nourishment.
Instead, if there is a true need for liquids beyond water while playing a sport, there are naturally occurring electrolyte beverages that don’t contain the damaging ingredients, such as raw coconut water.
2. Energy Drinks
These highly toxic drinks cause a great deal of internal damage, stress, and stimulation.
These drinks cause inflammation, hormone imbalance, and organ stress and damage. These drinks also contain added ingredients such as preservatives and unnatural sweeteners that can cause internal damage.
Drinking energy drinks especially when engaging in sports can not only cause deficiencies but can cause some serious organ and cardiovascular damage.
3. Soda Pop
Soda pop contains absolutely no nutritional value but detracts a great deal from real health, damaging bones, organs, and optimal functioning.
They’re filled with artificial sweeteners that may cause you to gain weight and even develop problems with your blood sugar levels.
Alcohol damages the liver and doesn’t contain any nourishment to support healthy functions of the body.
Besides, getting a hangover the next day will badly affect your performance during your workout or compete.
5. White Breads and Foods
White breads and foods are highly processed, unnatural and contain no true nutrients to support and replenish the body.
Foods like this lead to deficiencies, inflammation, digestive issues, hormone imbalances, blood sugar issues, and much more.
Especially after exercise, these foods do even more damage because they’re not meeting the nutritional demands of an active body.
6. White Sugar or Non-Nutritive Sweeteners
Like white breads and foods, not only are you not getting any real nutrients, but sugar and non-nutritive sweeteners can leach minerals from the bones, cause inflammation, and cause a lot of internal toxicity that can not only influence performance outcomes but also health.
Non-nutritive sweeteners (aspartame) do a lot of damage to the nervous system.
7. Baked Goods and Desserts
This includes the common desserts such as ice cream, cookies, pastries, and other similar items that contain no real nutrients, are highly processed, and contain high amounts of refined flour and sugar and other unhealthy ingredients.
Good thing there are alternative recipes for baked goods using organic ingredients, like chickpea muffins or zucchini brownies.
Any candy or food containing dyes, preservatives, refined sugar, corn syrup, and other common ingredients found in candy not only provide no nutrients but cause inflammation, insulin spikes, hormone imbalance, and many other internal problems.
9. Fried Foods
Any fried foods, including French fries and fried meats, are very inflammatory, contain no real nutrients, and have toxic fats that cause internal damage.
10. Conventional Protein Powders
Conventional proteins are highly processed, isolated, and typically contain toxic ingredients such as preservatives, dyes, non-nutritive sweeteners, and other harmful elements that detract from health and ultimate performance.
It is best to go with a plant-based protein that’s also organic.
This high-performance protein powder by Sun Warrior made from organic protein sources can boost an athlete’s energy without all the synthetic components.
11. Any Foods Containing Trans Fat
Also known as hydrogenated oil, these oils are very toxic, very inflammatory, and disrupt cellular functioning.
Consuming too much trans fat in an extended period may cause damage to your internal organs in the long run.
Foods That Athletes Should Limit
Not all foods should be avoided. There are other consumables that can be eaten but with restrictions.
These are the foods an athlete should minimize eating:
12. Conventional Meats and Animal Products
Conventional meats contain toxic preservatives, antibiotics, hormones, and other such contaminants that wreak havoc internally that over time will weaken the body.
13. Diet or Energy Bars
Most bars contain high amounts of sugar (added and natural), refined carbohydrates, preservatives, and highly-refined ingredients and are very low in true nutrition.
If you can make your own protein bar or find one that uses organic ingredients, then eating them won’t be a problem.
Most cereals also are highly processed or refined, are primarily sugar, processed carbs, dyes, preservatives, and other unhealthy ingredients that don’t support true health or performance.
No athlete should start his or her day with sugar. This will spike insulin and your blood sugar levels.
15. Conventional Coffee Drinks
Conventionally processed coffee drinks containing added sugars, conventional dairy, and other harmful ingredients cause inflammation, hormone imbalance, sugar spikes. If you desperately need caffeine to start your day, try cold brewed coffee or matcha tea. They both have caffeine, but without the harmful ingredients as conventional coffee drinks.
While some are better than others, most juices are processed and pasteurized. Sugary juice can spike your sugar levels while providing a relatively limited amount of nutrition to off-balance those spikes.
Juicing your own fruits and vegetables is one of the healthiest ways to replenish vitamins and minerals after an exercise.
17. Vegetable Oils
Some vegetable oils like canola oil are inflammatory. Replace these with olive oil, avocado oil, or coconut oil.
18. Sodium Chloride (White Salt)
White salt is highly processed and causes internal stress, water retention, and other unpleasant symptoms.
Replace white salt with sea salt like the Pink Himalayan salt to avoid the side effects of processed table salt.
Now you know what food to avoid, here’s something you should add to your diet as explained by Croix Sather in this video from Sunwarrior:
Every athlete will have different nutritional needs, which is why it is ideal to talk to a sports dietitian and have a customized athlete meal plan that’s comprised of the right amount of calories, carbohydrates, and protein. Keep this list in mind so you can always be cautious of what you eat.
Get healthy with our free fitness challenge where we give you a free meal plan and a free exercise regimen and nutrition tips to follow so you can feel your best!
Are you currently following an athlete diet? What foods did you avoid to grow muscle mass more effectively? Share your meal plan in the comments section below!
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Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on March 1, 2018, and has been updated for quality and relevancy.