Monday, April 1, 2013

Diets Targeted at Athletes

by Dr. David Kulla

Athletes have special physical requirements. They need to stay strong, fast and flexible, regardless of the sport they compete in. Most athletes follow a strict diet that is high in protein, complex carbohydrates and vitamin-packed fruits, vegetables and nuts.

Athletes rarely have to lose weight, but they do have to manage it. More important than how much they weigh is how well they perform. Professional athletes often work with nutritionists, trainers and other specialists to construct a diet that will help them achieve maximum physical performance.

Many of the low carbohydrate/high protein diets work well for athletes. One of the newest eating plans to gain popularity is the Paleo plan. This diet is appealing to athletes because of its natural approach to eating and living. The idea is that a person following the Paleo plan will only eat things that our hunter/gatherer ancestors would eat.

By following this plan, people are stronger and leaner, much like our prehistoric relatives. Athletes will eat any and all protein sources, including meat and chicken and fish. Eggs and nuts are also important, as well as fresh fruits and vegetables that might be picked straight from the tree or pulled from the ground. There are very few carbohydrates permitted in the Paleo plan and virtually no refined sugars.

Less dramatic are plans that incorporate a selection of complex carbohydrates. While keeping up with the high protein intake, some diets will incorporate complex carbohydrates that provide fiber and other nutrients. For example, instead of eating just a plate of scrambled eggs the way an athlete on the Paleo plan might, an athlete with a more flexible diet might eat the scrambled eggs with a piece of whole grain, high fiber bread.

Carbohydrates provide energy, which is fuel athletes need to keep up with their workouts and competitions. If you are trying to maximize every calorie you consume, the way most athletes do, balancing your diet with protein and good carbs is the best way to give your body everything it needs. Incorporate fruits and vegetables as well as healthy fats that your body will also use for fuel, and you will be in good shape to achieve your athletic goals.

Supplements provide a role for many athletes as well. Protein shakes and muscle building vitamins are necessary and often recommended to achieve good results during workouts and competitions. While supplements have their role to play, they should never replace food. Food is an athlete’s fuel.

Athletes who want to achieve maximum performance do not think too much about what they cannot have. Instead, they think about what types of food will be put to good use in their bodies. This makes them less likely to fill up on junk food and processed foods. Instead, they will choose high protein foods, complex carbohydrates and fruits and veggies that will protect their immune system. Most athletes work with trainers and nutritionists to ensure they are getting everything they need for optimal performance.

This post was written for Sports Fitness Hut by Dr. David Kulla. Dr. Kulla is a licensed NYC Chiropractor and a nutritionist as well as owner of Synergy Wellness in Manhattan.


  1. I have read all the information that are provided here recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don’t know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.
    Fitness Gym Phoenix

  2. I usually eat carbohydrates before my cycling. I will incorporate fruits and vegetables as well.


My Amazon Page