Fueling your body with the right nutrition is critical for peak athletic performance. But what if you’re vegan? Or gluten intolerant? Or hitting some major age milestones? Read on to explore the foods and supplements you need to know for your unique needs.
Fuel for everybody and every body
Most athletes need three main nutrients:
- protein for post-workout recovery and building muscle
- carbohydrates for general energy, especially when doing short, high-intensity workouts
- fats for absorbing nutrients and fuelling low-intensity exercise
Every day, aim to eat 6 to 10 grams of carbs per kilogram of body weight and about 1.6 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight.
Healthy fats should provide about 30 percent of your daily calories. That’s approximately 67 grams of fat a day if you’re eating 2,000 calories daily.
Exactly how you satisfy these general requirements—and the supplements you need to support your fitness goals—shifts depending on what you eat (or don’t eat).
Remember, always ask your health care practitioner before trying a new supplement to make sure it’s right for you. Nutrition professionals can also help you put together a targeted plan that’s perfect for your unique needs and lifestyle.
Plant-based athletes often worry about getting enough protein. But the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics notes that this concern is unfounded since plant-based diets “typically meet or exceed recommended protein intakes when caloric intakes are adequate.” However, there are a few foods to consider if you want to be the strongest vegan on the block.
Foods and supplements for plant-based athletes:
- Nuts and seeds
- Vitamin B12
Most grains—the usual go-to for the carbohydrates you need to fuel your workout—contain gluten.
Foods and supplements for gluten-free athletes:
Whether you’re on a strict ketogenic diet or following a more moderate low-carb lifestyle, limited studies suggest that your body can adapt and use fat—not carbohydrates—for fuel, thus leading to improved weight loss. But low-carb athletes don’t just need more dietary fat. Groundbreaking research suggests that endurance training on a low-carb diet also increases your protein requirements by approximately 10 percent.
Foods and supplements for low-carb athletes:
- Healthy fats
- Protein powder
- B vitamins
- Liver aids
None of us can stop the aging process, but we can run from it. Literally. Researchers report that regular exercise slows or even reverses numerous markers of aging, and a review of 23 different studies found that working out increased the odds of healthy aging by 39 percent. One reason may be because exercise stimulates your body’s natural production of growth hormone and testosterone. This can improve your health and body composition and may even extend your life span.
Foods and supplements for older athletes:
- Foods to help support joint health
- Vitamin D
Written by Joshua Duvauchelle