Elite athletes know that their nutrition is key to their performance and gaining an edge over their competition. An athlete’s diet is more than just calories, it has a direct impact on their success- it is fuel for the body. Some foods can increase an athlete’s energy, promote muscle growth and help in muscle repair. Other foods can set an athlete back. There are certain foods that an athlete should avoid at all costs.
1. Anything with high-fructose corn syrup. Sweets and candies may provide a quick energy burst, however these foods are filled with sugar and empty calories. Eating sugary foods offer no nutritional value and can also lead to an athlete “crashing” during a workout. High-fructose corn syrup or artificial sweeteners can also promote fat buildup around important organs. Cereals are a very popular breakfast choice but they contain mostly sugar and calories. Sodas and energy drinks also contain artificial sweeteners and should have no place in an athlete’s diet.
Instead, athletes should focus on consuming fruits, vegetables and other foods from nature. These foods contain simple carbohydrates which are easier for the body to break down and provide a rapid burst of energy before competition. Instead of sodas, an athlete can try fruit infused water (lemon, lime, strawberry) to add taste without any stimulants.
2. Foods cooked with oil or containing trans fats. There are two types of trans fats found in foods: naturally-occurring and artificial trans fats. Naturally-occurring trans fats are found in the gut of some animals and foods made from these animals (ex: milk and meat products). Artificial trans fats are commonly found in processed foods. Both of these types of foods take a long time to digest and are known to increase the level of bad cholesterol in the body and increase the risk of heart diseases. Dairy and fried foods should be avoided prior to competition because they can make an athlete feel drowsy and lead to a loss of concentration.
Instead, athletes should choose healthy fats such as nuts, seeds, avocados, seafood, and olive oil. These foods contain monounsaturated fats and are digested easier and are recommended before any rigorous activity. Doughnuts, potato chips, Cheetos, cookies, crackers, muffins, pies and cakes are examples of foods that may contain trans fat. Athletes should limit how frequently they eat them.
3. Avoid protein and energy bars. Protein and energy bars are quick and convenient source of calories, however most are highly processed and contain little nutritional benefits. Most energy bar products on the market are high in sugars and saturated fats, which can contribute to diabetes and heart disease. Many athletes don’t know how to properly modify their overall nutrition plan to incorporate these products in a healthy way. They eat too many of these products and it leads to unnecessary weight gain. It is also important to note that these bars contain some allergens that can affect an athlete.
Instead, an athlete can get the same energy boost from whole food sources such as a piece of fruit or a handful of nuts and seeds. Nutritional bars that are low on sugars and saturated fats include Luna, Cliff, Kashi, Kind, and Quest bars. At Champion’s QUEST, athletes can purchase Quest bars to supplement their training sessions.
September is nutrition month at Champion’s QUEST and all academy athletes will be going through a nutrition session with their counseling coach. For more information on foods youth athletes should avoid, email Coach Kyle by clicking the picture below.
Tagged: athlete nutrition, Cal South Soccer, Champion's QUEST, energy bars, foods to avoid, high fructose corn syrup, Long Beach, Los Alamitos, Nutrition, Soccer Academy, Soccer Tips, trans fats, US Youth Soccer, Youth Soccer Players, Youth Soccer Training