12 Foods Every Athlete Should Eat

Who do you think is going to last longer on the field: the guy who sucked down a bag of Cheetos 15 minutes before the game, or the athlete who had sweet potatoes and tuna for lunch? We’ll give you a hint: powdery sticks of fried cornmeal are not what fuel most top athletes. So what does? That’s what we asked nutrition experts who work with pro athletes in several sports. Here were their 12 most common recommendations.

Link to original article in Stack.com by Sam DeHority.

Sweet Potatoes

AFI - 12 foods - sweet potato

These orange tubers are relatively easy to prepare and incredibly potent fueling options for athletes.

“[Sweet potatoes] are an excellent source of vitamin A and a good source of vitamin C and some of the B vitamins,” says Kelly Pritchett, assistant professor at Central Washington University. “Athletes can eat it for lunch and dinner topped with a protein source like cottage cheese or black beans.”

Oatmeal

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This breakfast staple can also be tossed into protein shakes to kick up the carb and calorie count if you’re looking to pack on weight. Just make sure to opt for steel-cut—instant oats have a glycemic index of 83, compared to 55 for the “average” oat. This means that the instant option is more likely to cause an insulin spike, which will cause you to store all those carbs as flab.

“Oatmeal is a great source of carbohydrate energy for athletes, plus it’s high in fiber, which keeps you full longer and helps maintain glucose levels,” says Pritchett. “[Plus it’s] 100 percent whole grain, which may reduce the risk of heart disease.”

Bananas

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Bananas are extremely convenient for busy athletes—portable and encased in biodegradable wrappers. They also deliver a potent dose of good nutrition.

“Bananas are an excellent source of potassium, an electrolyte that gets lost in sweat and helps maintain low blood pressure,” says Nancy Clark, MS, RD and author of Nancy Clark’s Sports Nutrition Guidebook. “Bananas are also a good source of carbs to fuel the muscles, and they taste great with chocolate milk and/or peanut butter, [which are] other good sports foods.”

Oranges

AFI - 12 foods - oranges

Another athlete-friendly food that comes pre-wrapped.

“Oranges are rich in vitamin C to help with healing and boost the immune system,” Clark says. “[They’re] also juicy and refreshing, which makes them a great snack at halftime.”

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