Sports Coach Logo Sports Coach Training Principles Fitness Components



text Translator



site search facility





Nutrition for Optimum Athletic Efficiency

Robert Luis provides advice on how and in what ways nutrition helps an athlete.

Nutrition is critical for an athlete's overall health as well as their training requirements. A proper diet offers adequate energy and nutrients for an athlete to satisfy the requirements of training and activity. It aids in not only maximum performance but also recuperation.

Nutrition can help athletes perform better. The greatest approach to keep fit is to have an active way of life with an exercise regimen, as well as eat healthily. A healthy diet can help an athlete have the strength he/she needs to compete in a contest or simply enjoy a recreational sporting activity. When you are short on adequate rest, you are much more likely to feel weary and not perform well in sports. Also, if there is a deficiency in:

  • Carbohydrates
  • Protein
  • Iron
  • Calories
  • Vitamins
  • Fluids
  • Minerals


The optimum diet for any athlete is similar to the diet suggested for anybody in good health. However, they may need additional macronutrients and calories to sustain their power and energy levels to be at their competitive best.

Since athletes must consume appropriate calories and macros as well as additional vitamins, minerals, and micronutrients for optimal recovery and efficiency, they could also need more food overall. Additionally, they may be required to think about mealtime and hydration.

The following factors determine the quantity of each food category you require:

  • The sport's nature
  • How long you expend energy performing the activity or exercising
  • How much training you put in

Because athletes tend to misjudge how many calories they burn each workout, it is critical to avoid consuming more calories than you burn exercising. Avoid strenuous exercise on an empty stomach to improve your performance. Because everyone is different, you will need to know:

  • What is the proper quantity of food for you?
  • When is the ideal time to eat before exercising?


Carbs or carbohydrates are given a lot of emphasis in sports nutrition because of their importance in athletic performance. Several athletes, particularly those involved in intensified and long time exercise, prefer to feed themselves with carbohydrates. This is because they provide sufficient glycogen reserves and blood sugar to meet the demands of the activity.

Athletes will require various quantities of carbohydrates based on their workout intensity to sustain muscle and glycogen reserves. Whole-grain bread, bagels, pasta and rice, are examples of complex carbs. Fibre, vitamins, energy, and minerals are all found in them. These foods have a low-fat content.

The overall amount of carbs you consume each day is the most important factor. Carbohydrates should account for slightly more than 50% of your total calories. If you are going to be exercising for longer than an hour, you should consume carbs first. If you are going to perform longer than an hour of severe aerobic activity, you will also need carbs. If you have worked out hard, you will need to eat carbs afterwards to replenish your muscle's energy reserves.


Protein is also important in sports nutrition since it supplies the person with the amino acids it needs to create and restore muscle tissues. Carbohydrate reserves are utilised before the body using protein for energy. However, it is also a misconception that eating a high-protein intake would help you gain muscles. Athletes who engage in high-intensity exercise may profit from consuming more than double the RDA of protein in their daily diet.

An essential energy source while exercising is carbohydrates, not protein. Supplementing with amino acids and eating a high protein diet are not advised.

Protein sources that are good for you include:

  • Seafood and fish
  • Poultry and lean meat
  • Lentils and beans
  • Dairy products and eggs
  • Seeds and nuts


Fats are required in the diet to keep physiological functions such as neurotransmitter activity and hormone synthesis running smoothly. Incorporating healthy fats into one's diet can also aid contentment and act as a targeted source of fuel for athletes who require a lot of stamina and energy. Some athletes may opt for a keto diet that includes a greater fat intake. However, the International Sports Sciences Association assessment concludes that there is insufficient data to support the diet's efficacy. Olive oil, oily fishes, avocados, nuts, and seeds are all good sources of healthy fats.

Supplements and micronutrients

A diverse, well-balanced diet may generally provide enough amounts of vital vitamins and minerals. Players should make sure they get the essential minerals and vitamins they require to stay healthy and perform well on the field. Certain athletes may use vitamin and mineral supplementation, as well as ergogenic enhancers like creatine. It is worth noting that certain sporting organisations prohibit the use of specific dietary supplements.

Fluids and water

Water is the greatest and most vital nutrient for athletes yet is constantly ignored. One of the most important things to hydrate the system and maintain at the proper temperature is fluids and water. In an hour of hard activity, your body might shed several litres of perspiration. When you have completely rehydrated, your urine will be completely clear. Some suggestions for maintaining enough fluid levels in the body involve:

  • Whether or not you plan to exercise, be sure you consume enough water with each meal.
  • Two hours before an exercise, drink 480 ml of water. It is critical to begin exercising with a sufficient amount of water in your system.
  • Keep drinking water every Fifteen to Twenty minutes throughout and after your workout, roughly 1/2 to 1 cup (120 to 240 millilitres). When it comes to hydration, water is superior for the opening hour. You will want to make sure you get your daily dose of electrolytes. Therefore it is recommended that you switch to an energy beverage after the opening hour.
  • Even if you do not feel thirsty, drink.
  • If you dunk your head into a basin of water, it may feel wonderful, but you are not getting any liquids into your system.
  • During sporting activities, provide water to youngsters frequently. Adolescents do not respond as well to thirst as adults. Teens and adults should drink an equivalent quantity of fluids to restore any body mass shed during a workout.

Timing of meals

Meal and snack time can have a significant impact on athletic performance. Meal timing and composition can help you achieve your training objectives, minimise tiredness, and improve your body mass. Based on the style of athlete you are, the time and quantity of nourishment will differ. Many sports associations also emphasise the significance of ingesting protein before and after physical activity for athletes who participate in strength training.

On the other hand, stamina athletes would need to eat primarily carbs with a modest quantity of protein one to four hours before exercising. ACSM and ISSN point to the importance of meal timing in helping athletes recuperate and perform well, and they advise athletes to consume nutrients all through the day, each three to four hours. Some athletes may have stomach pain if they eat too soon to the start of their workout. As a result, it is critical to eat in moderation and avoid exercising too soon after meals.

Adapting nutrition to the style of sport

Athletes' dietary needs vary based on the sport they participate in. Although strenuous exercise might result in stomach discomfort, especially shortly before an essential exercise or race, those who do it at a high level can find it hard to eat adequate food to support their energy demands without experiencing GI distress.

For competitive swimmers, hydration and carb-loading are very important.

Simultaneously, it highlights the importance of eating readily digested carbs like bananas and spaghetti before events to minimise GI distress.

Hiring a sports nutritionist is as common and popular as sports betting nowadays. An athlete may require a sports nutritionist, and this person should be a certified dietitian. This will ensure that they follow a proper nutrition regime according to their sports requirement, consume adequate nutrients and chalk out a strategy as per their schedule and physical needs.

Achieving desired body weights through nutrition

You may change your current weight to increase your productivity, but you should do it carefully. Maintaining unhealthy body weight, reducing weight too rapidly, or avoiding weight growth in an artificial method can all have significant health consequences. Setting a reasonable target weight is critical. A licensed dietitian should be consulted by younger athletes who are attempting to shed weight. Developing bad eating habits by experimenting with your diets might lead to insufficient or excess consumption of essential nutrients.


Athletes must organise their food to achieve optimal productivity and fitness. They should think about their calories and macro as well as micronutrient requirements and consume a well-balanced diet rich in minerals and vitamins.

It is also important to stay hydrated and eat at the right times all through the day if you want to perform effectively. Certain athletes may use nutritional supplements. However, they must be aware of safety and effectiveness concerns and ensure that their athletic organisation permits use. You may speak with a sports nutritionist to get the guidance you need to have the best diet possible to support your objectives as an aspiring or pro athlete.

Page Reference

If you quote information from this page in your work, then the reference for this page is:

  • LUIS, R. (2021) Nutrition for optimum athletic efficiency [WWW] Available from: [Accessed

About the Author

Robert Luis is a Nutritional counsellor and writer. He writes about nutrition and its various facets. He contributes to news and research publications regarding health and nutrition. He is a firm believer in balanced diets as well as a holistic approach to wellness. He enjoys making nutritious meals and encourages others to explore a proper-rounded diet.