Five Performance-Boosting Foods | STACK

Become a Better Athlete. Sign Up for our FREE Newsletter.

Five Performance-Boosting Foods

February 22, 2011

Must See Nutrition Videos

“[Fueling] is just as much a part of training as lifting, running and learning plays,” says Pittsburgh Steelers nutrition consultant Leslie Bonci. Take your training to the next level by adding these five foods to your daily menu. Each provides specific performance-related benefits—from reducing muscle soreness to improving mental focus. [Learn more about basic fueling for athletic performance.]

A quarter-cup of walnuts [about a handful] serves up a healthy dose of Omega-3s, healthy fats that have an anti-inflammatory effect [i.e., reducing swelling and muscle soreness]. They also provide sodium, a key electrolyte needed for maintaining proper fluid balance and lessening the risk of dehydration. Bonci recommends eating just a handful, because one ounce has about 16 grams of fat.

One cup of milk delivers approximately eight grams of protein. When combined with carbohydrates [e.g., cereal], the nutrients have “a really nice working relationship,” says sports nutritionist Susan Kleiner. "Carbohydrate enhances the absorption of protein into the cell, and protein enhances the absorption of carbohydrate across the intestinal membrane. Together, they elevate mood, keep you feeling good, help you better cope with stress, and enhance mental energy, focus and performance."

According to Amanda Carlson, sports nutritionist for Athletes' Performance, Tempe, Ariz., your body absorbs animal proteins, like those found in eggs, better than plant proteins. Animal proteins contain amino acids, important for muscle building. Carlson suggests including one lean protein source with every meal. Try adding a hard-boiled egg to your morning meal [one egg packs about six grams of protein].

Peanut Butter
Peanut butter is loaded with healthy fats and is high in calories. Just two tablespoons provide 190 calories, 16 grams of fat and eight grams of protein. Sports nutritionist Nancy Clark recommends a PB and jelly sandwich as a quick and convenient mid-day snack to provide needed energy before you hit the weight room or field. It also helps your body rebuild muscle post-practice.

Along with a full dose of vitamin C, oranges provide fluid to help keep you hydrated. University of Georgia sports nutritionist Ruth Taylor says, “The juicier the fruit, the more fluid it naturally has." Eating juicy fruits like oranges can help you meet about 20 percent of your daily fluid needs, according to sports nutritionist Tracy Siravo. [Learn more about other foods that keep you hydrated.]


Sarah Gearhart
Sarah Gearhart
Must See
Dashon Goldson: "You Just Gotta Have Heart"
Views: 2,276,651
How to Perform the Euro Step With Iman Shumpert
Views: 81,154
Jadeveon Clowney on Making Big Hits
Views: 3,155,784

Featured Videos

Quest for the Ring: Duke University Views: 217,694
Eastbay: It Begins Now Views: 70,986
Path to the Pros 2015: Training Days Views: 118,412
Load More


STACK Fitness

Everything you need to be fitter than ever

STACK Conditioning

Sport-specific conditioning programs

Coaches and Trainers

Tips and advice for coaches and trainers


Latest issues of STACK Magazine


Women's sports workout, nutrition and lifestyle advice


Gaming, entertainment and tech news

Basic Training

Military-style training for athletes


Find the latest news relevant to athletes

More Cool Stuff You'll Like

5 'Good Foods' That Might Be Bad for You

For years, we have been told that healthy foods are those low in fat and sodium and high in fiber and protein. Evil can lurk, though, among what we...

How to Eat Organic Without Breaking the Bank

5 Foods That Are Stunningly High in Sodium

3 Fruits and 3 Vegetables Athletes Must Eat

The 6 Worst Foods for Athletes

Are You Eating Too Much Protein?

The Case for Red Meat

5 Nutritional Power Combos for Athletes

Why You Need Dietary Fiber

10 Athlete-Approved, High-Protein Healthy Cereals

5 Protein-Packed Recovery Shakes

Healthy (and Unhealthy) BBQ Ideas For Athletes

6 Healthy Foods You're Overeating

Living Near Fast Food Could Increase Your Odds of Obesity

5 Delicious Ways to Make Junk Food Less Junky

Terrible Toppings: The 5 Worst Things We Put on Food

Load Up on These Foods at Your Backyard Barbecue

7 Foods That Are Ruining Your Workouts

Brown Rice vs. White Rice: Does It Really Matter?

Fuel Up Fast With 4 Smoothies From the New York Giants

A Sneaky Food Additive Athletes Should Avoid

12 Foods Every Athlete Should Eat

9 Athlete-Approved Peanut Butter Sandwiches

5 Ways to Fuel Your Early Morning Workout

The Boston Cannons'

STUDY: Eat More Fruits and Veggies, Live (Almost) Forever

The Cheat Meal Day: Why It's Not So Smart

The Best Foods for Digestive Health

The Healthiest (And Unhealthiest) Ways to Eat Chicken

How Friends and Family Affect Your Food Choices

Vegetarian Athlete Tips: Olympic Swimmer Kate Ziegler

How to Deal With Your Sugar Cravings

10 Easy Ways to Eat Real Food

The Grain Guide: How and Why to Use 8 Healthy Whole Grains

Where the Paleo Diet Falls Short

Healthy Makeovers for 3 Classic Meals

5 'Healthy' Side Dishes That Are Worse Than French Fries

Healthy Eating at Restaurants: Decoding a Diner Menu

You Should Eat the Peel of These 12 Fruits and Vegetables

4 'Bad Foods' That Might be Good for You

6 Eating Mistakes That Undo Your Workouts

Salad Showdown: Which Greens Are the Healthiest?

Spice Up Your Healthy Cooking With These Lively Combos

5 Ways Junk Food Can Mess With Your Head

How Undereating Can Make You Gain Weight

Small Change, Big Difference: 5 Foods You Should Buy Organic

5 Non-Boring Ways To Eat Chicken

5 Healthy Foods That Got a Bad Rap

11 Food Services That Deliver Ready-Made Nutritious Meals