Sports Nutrition Diet You Can Do

Eat for the Body You Want

 It doesn’t matter what sport or fitness program you are doing, using sports nutrition to eat for the body you want is possible.  

Sports Nutrition is for Everyone

Sports Nutrition
Sports Nutrition Can Help Achieve Your Best Body. Paul Aresu/Getty Images

Sports nutrition is not limited to competitive athletes, and in my opinion anyone involved in physical activity regularly qualifies as an athlete. You will also discover sports nutrition is really an overlap of healthy eating strategies already shared in books and online. The important thing is to apply the nutrition methods consistently to achieve your goals. There will be tweaks in diets for bodybuilders compared to long distance runners, but the food selections will be fairly similar overall. We tend to make eating healthy over-complicated and stressful when we should be enjoying simple and effective nutrition. Let’s take a look at ways to apply simple sports nutrition and eat for the body we want.

Keep a Food Journal

Food Journal
Food Journals Help Us Stay On Track. BreatheFitness/Getty Images

One of the best accountability tools to stay on sports nutrition track is keeping a food journal. Studies show people who maintain a fitness journal faithfully have the greatest success. It may be a pain in the rear to write down every morsel and drink consumed, but over time it will become your friend. Even during weeks when food gets off track, having to take responsibility and learn from the documentation is the point of the journal. Writing down what you eat is just like a personal trainer being with you all the time asking, “Do you really want to eat that?” According to the National Academy of Sports Medicine, everyone should keep one, even fitness professionals. “Food logs increase awareness, increase accountability, provide a prospective tool for dietary planning, and help provide data” useful to make necessary adjustments. Food journals can be simplistic where you only record each healthy meal several times per day or as complex as counting calories, grams, and separating macronutrient food groups. Whatever promotes eating right and fits your lifestyle is the best food journal choice.  

Plan and Prep Healthy Meals

Plan and Prep Healthy Meals
Plan and Prep Healthy Meals for the Week. Edward Pond/Getty Images

Planning and prepping meals is another sports nutrition accountability method and promotes eating right during the week. When life is busy, cooking at home can become a rare occurrence which leads to the quick and easy unhealthy food choices. According to the American Council on Exercise, “the key to successful meal prepping is having a PLAN.” Set aside one day during the week to cook in bulk, use your crockpot, prep veggies and divide out meals as a great way to stay on track. When you are in control of what you eat, you are in control of your fitness. To get you started, read this article on “How to Prep Healthy Meals for the Week in Under an Hour”:

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Eat Several Times Daily

Nutrient Timing
Sports Nutrition Includes Nutrient Timing. PeopleImages/Getty Images

Eating several times per day is also called nutrient timing. Several studies have indicated eating several small meals per day boosts metabolism, increases muscle protein synthesis (muscle growth), and stimulates fat loss. It also helps our blood glucose (sugar) levels remain balanced, stimulates feelings of satiety, well-being and improved energy. Many athletes, including natural bodybuilders, utilize nutrient timing for optimal fitness during their sport and to create a lean, athletic look. According to the International Society of Sports Nutrition, your athletic performance improves when carbs and proteins are consumed at the right times before and after workouts. Read this very informative article on contest-prep nutrient timing and apply the principles to your personal program: 

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Eat Like an Athlete

Eat Like an Athlete
Sports Nutrition Means Eating Like an Athlete. Drazen Lovric/Getty Images

Many of us think improving our fitness and achieving an athletic look means going on a diet. This is more a marketing scheme and food myth that has been debunked. Going on a diet and restricting too many calories may cause more harm than good. The body is an efficient machine and needs energy for optimal health and fitness. Depriving the body of important nutrients has been shown to decrease our ability to lose fat, maintain muscle, and linked to lowered metabolism. Eating like an athlete means tossing the junk food and eating right for your body. So, the focus isn’t on diet but simply eating a wide variety of nutrient dense food to support a physically active lifestyle. According to the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, in order to preserve muscle, lose fat and maintain athletic performance, small caloric deficits work best. Learn more about why more calories can improve your muscle and fitness:

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Eat for Muscle Development

Sports Nutrition and Muscle
Sports Nutrition Includes Eating for Muscle Development. microgen/Getty Images

How you eat plays a large role in muscle development.  Both men and women often make diet mistakes following fad food plans or wrong nutrition information from a gym buddy.  Creating and maintaining muscle is hard work and sports nutrition strategies will help the process.  It’s also important to realize everyone is different and there is no such thing as one-size-fits all food plans.  The Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition position stand for natural bodybuilders emphasizes “bodybuilders, like others athletes, most likely operate best on balanced macronutrient intakes tailored to the energy demands of their sport.” The following article on “Eating for Muscle” will get you on the right track to proper nutrition and results!

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Drink Lots of Water

Sports Nutrition and Water
Sports Nutrition Includes Staying Hydrated. mapodile/Getty Images

If you are exercising regularly, you've probably heard or read how important water intake is to health and fitness. At the top of sports nutrition is the importance of drinking plenty of water for optimal athletic performance. Water makes up over half of the human body, regulates our temperature, maintains digestion and protects our organs. It also plays a large role in muscle function, transporting nutrients and removing toxins from our body. We simply couldn’t survive without water and physical activity demands we drink even more. According to the American Council on Exercise, “in one hour of exercise the body can lose more than a quart of water, depending on exercise intensity and air temperature.” Read more about the health benefits of water and why your body requires more! 

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Supplements Can Help

Sports Nutrition and Supplements
Sports Nutrition Can Include Taking Supplements. PeopleImages/Getty Images

Many athletes and everyday exercisers are using supplements to help with muscle growth and recovery, increasing athletic performance and even stimulating fat loss. They are always a personal choice and may provide an edge up on your sports nutrition program. Supplements are unregulated, which is a downside, but science is doing a great job researching the pros and cons. The following article on popular bodybuilding supplements will be valuable information to help decide if they are right for you!

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