Improving Athletic Performance Through Healthy Eating

When people talk about athletic performance, it almost always references healthy eating at some point in the conversation. Many people think that healthy eating means you have to give up everything you love. This could not be farther from the truth. I have found that you can eat healthy, and still enjoy those foods you love so much.  

Ever since I was in high school, I was passionate about finding ways to improve my athletic, and mental performance. One of my coaches had knowledge about the health and fitness industry, I learned the basics from him, and the rest is history. 

Since then I’ve spent countless hours learning, and educating myself all practical ways to eat healthy, and increase your athletic performance.

When it comes to athletic performance, healthy eating is one of the core ways to improve yourself. Not only will you find better athletic performance, you’ll start to lose weight as a result.

Some of the points well highlight real quick throughout this article will be:

  • Healthy Foods For Increased Athletic Performance
  • Athletic Performance’s Secret Weapon
  • The Benefits of Healthy Eating
  • Making your Food Tasty
  • Tracking Your Food and Athletic Performance
  • How to Stick With It

Healthy Foods For Increased Athletic Performance

While there are many foods around the world that people claim are healthy, the simplest approach is to think about the foods which are advertised on TV. I that over 90% of these foods are not healthy.

 While granola bars, and ”healthy cereal” our view to be high quality foods, the facts are;

  • They are high in sugar 
  • Loaded with non-essential calories
  • The artificial ingredients make it a less than attractive option for athletes.

I still eat my fair share of granola bars and cereal, but in moderation. 

Just make sure you watch out for foods which are advertised on TV. 

That brings up to next question, what are the good foods I can eat? 

Well I’m glad you asked.

Athlete Nutrition improving athletic performance

Fruits and Berries

These require little to no preparation and are packed with flavor! These low calorie and nutrient dense foods are great for smoothies, athletic performance, snacking, and a lot more.

  • Apples
  • Avocados
  • Bananas
  • Blackberries
  • Blueberries
  • Cherries
  • Grapes
  • Jackfruit
  • Oranges
  • Strawaberries 
  • And Hundreds more!

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Eggs 

These small but versatile foods can be used in many ways. Omelettes, Quiche, Frittatas, Sunny Side Up, In Healthy Cakes. Eggs have so many uses, all of which can be healthy if used properly 

If you are going for a low calorie, or lower fat option, take out the egg yolk, or simply buy egg whites in a container. This is a great alternative. 

I’ve found that the egg whites don’t have much of a taste but go great in a smoothie.

Unprocessed Meats/Chicken

As tasty as red meat is, the high fat content has been shown to lead to heart problems.

Therefore, a healthier approach would be through unprocessed, lean meats. Not through store made small packages of deli meat. Those are high in sodium. Some examples of quality lean meat would be:

  • A 90/10 Cut of Beef
  • Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast
  • Pork Loin
  • Lamb
  • 93/7 Ground Turkey

Nuts/Seeds

Nuts/seeds are packed with nutrition and healthy fats. Make sure you get the natural source, not candied pecans or chocolate covered almonds.

  • Almonds
  • Chia seeds
  • Flax seeds
  • Pecans walnuts
  • Hemp seeds

Vegetables

These Extremely low calorie foods, are some of the most nutrient-dense foods on this list. Incorporate these in your diet and use them for snacking without guilt.

  • Carrots
  • Asparagus
  • Zucchini
  • Onions
  • Cucumber
  • Garlic
  • Broccoli
  • Bell peppers
  • Cauliflower
  • Kale
  • Spinach 
  • Tomatoes

Fish/Seafood

These Foods, are very lean most of the time. But they have some very healthy fatty oils inside of them.

  • Salmon
  • Tuna
  • Crab
  • Anchovies
  • Lobster
  • Tilapia
  • Shrimp
  • Sardines 
Salmon on a beautiful dish

Grains

 In moderation, grains are great for providing your body with energy. 

If possible, try to stay away from the pre seasoned packages you find at the store. These are the ones you put in the seasoning packets. They just have a ton of sodium and deplete your body if it’s not a natural source.

  • White rice
  • Brown rice
  • Oats 
  • Quinoa 
  • Barley

Breads

These are a little harder to recommend because while it is somewhat still bread. The processed bread that last for 29 years (sarcasm) have some preservatives that take away from its natural nutrients. 

Try to focus on high quality breads. Healthline has provided some great examples for healthy bread:

  • Sprouted whole grain. Sprouted bread is made from whole grains that have started to sprout from exposure to heat and moisture
  • Sourdough
  • 100% whole wheat
  • Oat bread
  • Flax bread
  • 100% sprouted rye bread
  • Healthy gluten-free bread
  • Ezekial Bread

Legumes (Beans)

A great source of plant-based protein. They also have a good amount of carbs in them. Again, try to stay away from the ones that have a premade purpose. Such as bacon BBQ beans or maple syrup beans are not ones we recommend.

  •  Black beans
  •  Pinto beans
  • Green beans
  • Edamame 
  • Lentils 

Dairy 

As with all things, too much of anything is bad. Just drink and eat dairy in moderation as it does contain a decent amount of saturated fat. 

Some healthy examples would be:

  • Whole milk
  • Yogurt
  • Cheese 
  • Cottage cheese

Fats/Oils

These are probably the most calorie-dense foods on this list. Just be aware when using as you can quickly add 200 calories to your meal without even noticing. That’s why we recommend measuring your food as we will discuss later.

 Some examples might include:

  • Grass-fed butter
  • Coconut oil
  • Avocado oil
  • Extra virgin olive oil 

Potatoes

Natural potatoes are going to give you the type of long lasting energy needed for athletic performance. And if used right, they taste great!

Some examples:

  •  Red potatoes
  •  Russet potatoes
  •  Sweet potatoes

While there are many other healthy foods we did not include on this list, starting here would be more than enough for a foundation. 

Again, these are just a guideline to bring awareness on how you look at health and nutrition in terms of athletic performance. 

Athletic Performance Secret Weapon

As you can imagine, a good healthy diet will be your superpower in terms of performing at your highest level. 

Having good physical workouts, a great stretching routine when paired with a healthy nutrition plan, will lead to maximum athletic performance. 

Do the best you can to maintain a healthy mindset anytime you get tempted to indulge in that double chocolate cake. Remember, food is fuel, give it some of the good stuff!

Standing on a mountain in triumph - Kickersofearth.com

Some Of The Benefits of Healthy Eating:

Some of the biggest benefits in terms of a healthy eating plan are:

  • Better sleep
  • Faster recovery
  • Improved focus
  • Athletic lean muscle that will help you perform better

Make it tasty

Typically, when people think of healthy food, they may associate it with foods that taste bad. 

The only reason that food tastes bad, is you haven’t found a recipe that makes it taste good. For example, to some, kale tastes like old BBQ. But when mixed with a smoothie, you don’t even recognize the flavor of kale.

There are hundreds of recipes all over the world that use healthy food in a creative way. it just comes down to how creative you can be.

Track your food and athletic performance

Track your calories for athletic performance

I’ve made a post on this before, but tracking your food is one of the best ways you can manage the quality that goes in your body. 

Personally, I like to use a calorie counter app like MyFitnessPal to monitor every calorie that goes in my body so I know exactly the nutrients I’m getting. MyFitnessPal is great because it tracks the calorie intake, the macronutrients, your weight, and it has a supportive community which you can reach out to if you ever have questions. 

I’ve been using it for over six years and I’ve loved every second of it. 

There are other apps out there but I have found my fitness pal does everything that I would ever want out of a calorie counter app. 

In part with tracking your calories, tracking your athletic performance by journaling is an amazing way to measure your progress over a length of time. 

When I was playing football, after every practice, I would write down how I felt, my thoughts during my playing time, what worked, what didn’t work. 

Every single thing that I could think of after the day was done, I would put it down in my journal.

Therefore, a few weeks or months later when I want to relive that moment when I had a great practice, I would simply go back to the journal and review what was working for me at the time.

The old saying goes, “ What gets measured gets managed.”

 How did your workout go today? 

Where you at a level 7 intensity? 

Did you push for a level 9 or 10 intensity? 

Again, record any & everything you can so that you can continuously improve yourself and become the best version that you can be.

How to stick with it

Now that we have talked about some core principles and improving your athletic performance, sticking with it is an entirely new battle. 

In terms of consistency, the only way that he will be able to remember and develop these principles into a permanent habit, is by first becoming aware of a time to use them, and then having the discipline to act on it as a result. 

One example might be; the next time you feel like you want to eat that double chocolate cake, remember that we want to eat foods that are high in quality in nutrients, rather than the short-term happiness of eating cake. 

After that, you can write in your Journal about how you successfully resisted the temptation of cake, and how that influence your practice in a positive way. Also by resisting the temptation of the cake, you allow yourself to eat more of a healthier food as a result. 

Personally, I always like to eat three apples as opposed to one chocolate bar. If you’re not there now, it’s okay, baby steps will do it for you.

Conclusion

 By this point I hope to deliver the point that healthy eating affects your athletic performance and overall lifestyle. 

We hope to not only provide insight and education to this matter, but we expect you to apply it in every way you can so you can become the best version of yourself. Again some quick recap topics:

  • Choose quality foods over short-term happiness Foods.
  • Eating healthy foods not only impact your athletic performance, but your lifestyle choices as well. 
  • Enjoy your snacking Foods in moderation but let over 80% of your daily eating consist of high quality foods.

If you enjoyed reading this, please share with your friends and family so they can also improve their athletic performance through healthy eating.

Thank you so much and as always, stay amazing.

  • Eric 

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