Athletes are usually viewed as superhumans by some of us, but we are all capable of being athletes in our ways if we can commit to a workout program. It is never too late; make some time and go outside and engage your body in an activity to love.
As an athlete who plans to always be in your best shape, Dr. Summit Shah recommends that you consider going to a whole food plant based diet to increase the quality of your life. This is a great lifestyle if you want to have optimal health and overall wellness which can help you avoid any major diseases.
Let’s dive into the healthy tips for athletes.
Eat quality foods
When we talk about eating quality, we are talking about eating nutrient-dense foods. Whole foods like vegetables, fruits, whole grain carbs like wild rice, oatmeal, amaranth, buckwheat, quinoa, teff, sweet potatoes, popcorn, millet, tuber vegetables, peas, beans, chickpeas, lentils, nuts, chia seeds, hemp seeds, sesame seeds, and pumpkin are foods that have high quality nutrients that are good for athletes.
The benefits of these foods are endless. For starters, your body receives natural energy, your immune system is improved, and your body recovers faster.
Most athletes who get on the whole foods diet plan tend to fail because they fail to take the right quantity of total calories. Nuts, seeds, coconut, and avocados have high calories, and this is where you need to get your calories so that you can engage in your sporting activities with more vigor.
It is recommended that you eat after every 3 to 4 hours to maintain your blood sugar and keep your metabolism high. This kind of setting will also help you to curve food cravings and help you to eat just right for dinner. In the morning eat heavier meals to give your body fuel. Ensure that you eat different kinds of vegetables and fruits to provide you with enough antioxidants and phytonutrients to boost your immune system. Additionally, do not forget to use spices and fresh herbs when you are cooking.
Follow the 50-70% and the 80/20 rule
Eating whole foods is a lifestyle rather than a diet. If you start doing it, your body will crave for more because your taste buds change, and you crave for more dense nutrient foods. You won’t be eager to eat cookies.
When you transition to a whole foods diet, start by eating whole plant foods 80% of the time and the remaining percentage on what you love. But once you take up more whole foods, you will focus more on eating nutritious meals than the junk food you used to eat.
You can also source between 50-70% of calories from whole plant foods. For instance, when you have dinner, ensure you have an avocado and salad together with some steamed broccoli. For the main meal, take sweet potato and quinoa. For the remaining percentage, you can choose any source of meat.
Have a backup plan and some extra food
As an athlete, stuff happens and you need to be prepared. When you go for hikes, carry lunch and some snacks to keep you energized the whole day. When we go on a nature walk or a fun activity, we often tend to spend more time than we anticipated; be prepared and plan on the type of stacks you can carry.
Shop what is in season
To keep things fun, purchase the tastiest and freshest foods you can find. Look for colorful vegetables and fruits. As you also shop, purchase in bulk for all the nuts, seeds, dried fruits, and grains.
Consistency is a principle that works in almost everything in life. For you to succeed in the whole foods diet, you should stay consistent with your eating habits. Always ensure that you can quickly fix a meal. Quinoa, oats, brown rice, and sweet potatoes are easy to fix meals that should be in your pantry.
Hydrate as much as possible
Proper hydration is a key component in performing well in any athletic activity to reduce early fatigue and optimize the performance of your body. To check your hydration, Dr. Summit Shah recommends that you check the color of your urine. In case you have dark colored urine, you might either be missing some nutrients, or you may be dehydrated.
Take time to recover
Most of the whole foods are anti-inflammatory, while some foods are more potent than others. Ginger, turmeric, cherries, berries, ground flax seeds, dark leafy greens, and beats help to reduce inflammation and post-exercise pain, enabling your body to recover faster. It is essential to have a quality sleep so that the body can repair muscles. Additionally, ensure that you reduce your stress levels, sleep, stretch and get a massage regularly.
Take breaks between meals
You need to take breaks between meals. For instance, if you finish eating at 6 pm, don’t eat anything else until the next morning at 6am. If you can push your breakfast even further, you will be doing justice to your body. If you rest your digestive system, you will boost your immune system, trigger stem cells regeneration, and encourage weight loss.