As an athlete, you know you need to eat food that will give your body the energy it needs to keep going and keep you strong. While you’re probably doing everything you think you should be doing when it comes to putting the right kind of foods in your body, there are some things you might be eating that don’t seem that bad for you. Sports bars, anyone?
If you’re serious about your game, no matter what it might be, knowing the foods to avoid is vital to keep you going strong, maintain your ideal weight, and keep you healthy. The next time you reach for something to eat, be sure none of the following foods are what you choose.
6 Foods Athletes Should Avoid
You’re not really eating sugar before a workout are you? Didn’t think so, but just in case you sometimes give into temptation, sugar definitely shouldn’t be what you give into. We all know refined sugar is awful for us, but did you know it can also increase the pain of injuries? Not only that, but it can also give you a sugar crash during your workout, which is never fun working out or not.
If you’re craving something sweet, skip the Snickers bar, and opt for an apple or some blueberries instead. Trust me, your body will thank you for it.
The average American consumes forty percent more salt than they need to. Most of it comes from processed and fast foods, but salt is literally in everything and is really something everyone should avoid. Not only does excess salt in the diet eventually lead to hypertension, osteoporosis, dehydration, and kidney problems, but it can also lead to changes in our metabolism that makes us more susceptible to injuries. Healing time is also greatly reduced when there’s too much salt in the diet.
Think 1500 milligrams a day, not 3500. Salt is in everything so watching what your intake is would be wise.
Not that you ever would grab something from the drive-through on the way to a workout (or anywhere else for that matter), but sometimes when we’re really, really hungry and in a hurry, it’s hard to make the best of choices when it comes to food.
Fast food contains almost no nutritional value and is high in salt, sugar, and calories. Eating fast food can actually lead to cramping and muscle pulls, not to mention extra weight. If you’re really hungry and it can’t wait until you can eat a healthy meal, stop by a convenience store and stock up on some nuts or dried fruit.
While yogurt is actually really good for athletes and before working out, non-fat yogurt actually is definitely not. The way non-fat yogurt breaks down in the body can make blood sugar levels in the body super unstable. Stable blood sugar levels are vital to good health, and while yogurt really beneficial to your health, non-fat should always be avoided.
Greek yogurt, on the other hand, is actually very beneficial to athletes and is actually encouraged to eat before a workout. Full fat yogurts like these will give you the energy you need while making you feel full longer. The macronutrient balance found in Greek yogurt helps keep the body’s biological hunger patterns super well balanced.
Whey (and Other Animal Based) Protein Powders
Protein powders have been wildly popular amongst athletes for years, but those that are animal based (whey is a dairy derivative) can greatly harm your body as they tend to be highly acid forming. Too much acid in the body causes inflammation and suppressed immunity, while also stripping the bones from the alkaline calcium they need.
Plant based proteins however, is great before a workout and can give you more nutrients per calorie you can find in any other supplement. Unlike whey and other animal based proteins, plant based protein powders won’t cause inflammation and will improve the function of your muscles when working out.
Some experts say that drinking a little caffeine is essentially good before a workout to give you an energy boost by stimulating the adrenal glands, getting it from coffee is not the source you should be looking for. The caffeine in coffee gives you a quick burst, but also makes you crash very quickly, which is the last thing you need when exercising.
Think about switching to green tea. Not only is it wildly amazing for your health, but it contains caffeine without the crazy crash and coffee jitters. Green tea contains theophylline, a crystalline compound found in some tea leaves that cause a slow and steady release of caffeine over several hours, while also opening air passages in the lungs making it easier to breathe.
Sports Bars and Energy Drinks
Sports bars and energy drinks are not all they’re cracked up to be. Most of they claim to be awesome for workouts, or at least this is what we’re meant to believe, but they’re really just full of sugar and empty calories. We think they’re good for us, which makes us tend to eat more of them then we really should in the first place.
While they’re okay on occasion if nothing else is around, you should really make it a habit to start getting your energy and nutrition sources from somewhere else. Try nuts and seeds for energy. This is what nature intended them for, and munching on some nuts is all you really need. Trail mixes are also great before a workout, just make sure to look out for added sugars or preservatives.