12 Foods Every Athlete Should Eat


AFI - 12 foods - nuts

“[They are] nutrient dense—dense in overall calories and good for athletes with high caloric needs, but also dense in good nutrients,” says Kate Patton, RD, who works with the Cleveland Indians. “[Nuts have] unsaturated fat to fight inflammation, protein to support recovery, fiber to help maintain energy levels, and vitamins and minerals to support all the physiological functions they play a role in.”

Some nuts high in monounsaturated fat include pecans, peanuts and walnuts. Munch on a handful between classes or sprinkle them into Greek yogurt for a quick, healthy breakfast.

Olive Oil

AFI - 12 foods - olive oil

“Olive oil [is a good choice] because its monounsaturated fat elicits anti-inflammatory benefits to athletes, who put a lot of stress on their bodies,” says Patton. You can add olive oil to your diet quite easily: Drizzle it over pasta with some salt and pepper to carb up after practice, or spritz it on top of a salad at lunch.


AFI - 12 foods - salmon

This is a heavy hitter when it comes to athlete nutrition. It’s loaded with muscle-building protein and anti-inflammatory omega-3 fats, which can help you recover from bumps and bruises more quickly. Drizzle some olive oil over a salmon filet, give it a few squeezes of lemon and toss it in the oven—you’ve got dinner.

Flax Seed

AFI - 12 foods - flax seed

Flax seed is also high in anti-inflammatory omega-3’s, while packing fiber and a moderate amount of protein. Sprinkle them into soups or over salads for a flavor (and nutrition) boost.

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