Athletes want to be able to perform their best during competition. Not only must they work out to become their best, they also have to eat right. STACK talked with sports dietician Leslie Bonci to learn how athletes should eat to improve their sports performance. Bonci laid out five basic nutritional rules all athletes should follow.
1. Hydrate Throughout The Day
Staying hydrated is one of the most important factors for athletic performance. The best way to stay hydrated during a game is to drink in the days and hours prior to the contest. Athletes should always carry a water bottle so they can drink at intervals throughout the day.
2. Evenly Divide Food Throughout The Day
Many athletes eat small meals and snacks throughout the day leading up to a giant dinner, but that won’t help them perform their best. It’s better to eat evenly sized meals throughout the day. For example, in the morning have some chocolate milk and a small breakfast sandwich. Follow that with a chicken wrap and some fruit for lunch. Finish with a dinner that includes meat for protein, some grains and fruits and veggies.
3. Don’t Play Catch-Up
Make sure to eat healthy consistently and drink plenty of water to stay hydrated. If your eating habits are inconsistent, it could affect your sports performance for a day or two, or even a week. You can’t eat bad for three days and try to fix it with two good days of healthy eating.
4. Have Food Available
Athletes get hungry between meals or before practice, so it’s good to have food available. If you keep food in your backpack or locker, make sure it won’t go bad quickly. Examples include bananas, beef jerky and trail mix.
5. Have a Sports Performance Plate
This relates to what should be on your dinner plate, so you won’t eat too much or too little of a food type. An athlete’s dinner plate should contain a hand-sized amount of protein, at least a fist size of grain and two fists of fruits and veggies.