Feeding Your Inner Athlete

Feeding Your Inner Athlete

Dietary choices for peak performance.

Athletes have unique dietary needs depending on the sport(s) they play, the individual’s health profile, and their desired level of performance, among other factors. While it is important to consult a doctor to understand your specific needs, in this article, we cover some fundamental guidelines for feeding your inner athlete.

The Big Picture

Sports nutrition does not begin on the day of the competition; it is a continual process of making sure your body and mind receive the macronutrients, micronutrients, and fluids necessary to perform. This is as true during training and the competition itself as it is during recovery periods and while gearing up for the next challenge.

For instance, the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN) underscores that poor dietary practices may cause “loss of muscle mass, strength, and bone mineral density in addition to an increased susceptibility to illness and injuries, disturbances in immune, endocrine and reproductive function, and an increased prevalence of overreaching and/or overtraining.”[1]

Therefore, an athlete’s dietary choices are crucial for their health in a number of ways, not just in how they perform on the field of competition. The question is, then, what dietary choices should athletes consider in their quest for peak performance?

The Importance of Monitoring Calorie Intake

One of the principal considerations for any athlete is balancing energy intake with energy expenditure. Due to the fact that athletes burn so many more calories than people with low to moderate fitness levels, it is important to pay attention to the number of calories in their daily diet.

Researchers recommend about 2,000 calories per day for an average woman hoping to maintain her current weight, and 2,500 calories per day for a man.[2] Now compare that to the diet of Olympic gold-medalist Michael Phelps, who famously consumed between 8,000 and 10,000 calories as part of his training regimen.[3]

This comparison highlights the importance of tailoring your calorie intake for your specific sport. The calorie requirements of an endurance runner will vary considerably from the calorie requirements of a golfer. Further consideration should be given to an athlete’s age, weight, and sex, among other factors.

The Role of Macronutrients in Athletic Performance

Other key components of an athlete’s diet are the amounts of carbohydrates, protein, and fat they consume. Having adequate levels of these macronutrients aids in sustaining energy and delaying fatigue during competition. Evidence suggests that athletes should consume carbohydrates with a high glycemic index before and after competition to ensure that adequate glucose levels circulate to the liver and muscles.[4]

Protein is essential in providing athletes with amino acids to strengthen and repair muscles and tissues.[5] Some types of protein digest more quickly than others, which can affect muscle protein synthesis. It is generally advisable, then, to consume low-fat, high-quality protein, such as lean cuts of beef and poultry, fish, and egg whites.

At the same time, athletes are often encouraged to consider consuming more fat than individuals with less intensive fitness levels, as fat helps balance energy levels during extended competition, and it also provides intramuscular triacylglycerol and essential fatty acids.[6] For these reasons, the ISSN notes that athletes participating in regular, high-volume training can consume fat in amounts up to 50% of their daily calorie intake.

The Role of Micronutrients in Athletic Performance

In another article, we discuss why green vegetables are so important for athletes. We outlined how green vegetables provide vital micronutrients that athletes need to incorporate into their diet. ‘Micronutrient’ is a term that encompasses minerals, phytochemicals, and vitamins, and athletes will need all of these to reach and sustain peak performance.

Calcium, vitamin D, and iron are of particular importance to an athlete’s diet. Calcium contributes to healthy patterns in enzyme activity, bone strength, and muscle contraction. Vitamin D aids in the absorption and regulation of calcium.[7] And iron is used by the body to make hemoglobin and myoglobin, proteins that facilitate the distribution of oxygen from the lungs to muscle tissue and the rest of the body.[8]

Not only do green vegetables—such as the key ingredients in SaladPower—contain these essential micronutrients, they also contain the bioactive phytochemical nitrate. Nitrate helps with cardiovascular and metabolic regulation, and it has also been associated with increased leg strength and superior walking speeds.[9]

For all of these reasons, we hope you will consider SaladPower as an integral part of your training regimen. Whether you are a casual athlete or a high-level trainer, SaladPower contains a multitude of nutrients to feed your inner athlete. Not to mention that SaladPower is the most convenient, all-organic smoothie in the world, meaning you can keep your energy and nutrient levels up throughout your training with a simple twist of the cap!


[1] Kerksick, C. M., Wilborn, C. D., Roberts, M. D., Smith-Ryan, A., Kleiner, S. M., Jäger, R., Collins, R., Cooke, M., Davis, J. N., Galvan, E., Greenwood, M., Lowery, L. M., Wildman, R., Antonio, J., & Kreider, R. B. (2018). ISSN exercise & sports nutrition review update: research & recommendations. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 15(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12970-018-0242-y

[2] Osilla, E. V., Safadi, A. O., & Sharma, S. (2020). Calories. PubMed; StatPearls Publishing. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK499909/#:~:text=On%20average%2C%20a%20woman%20should

[3] Olympic Channel Writer. (2021, May 16). Michael Phelps’ 10000 calories diet: What the American swimmer ate while training for Beijing Olympics? Olympics.com; International Olympic Committee. https://olympics.com/en/news/michael-phelps-10000-calories-diet-what-the-american-swimmer-ate-while-training-

[4] Williams, C., & Rollo, I. (2015). Carbohydrate Nutrition and Team Sport Performance. Sports Medicine, 45(S1), 13–22. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40279-015-0399-3

[5] Richards, L. (2021, April 20). Nutrition and athletic performance: What to consider. Www.medicalnewstoday.com. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/nutrition-for-athletes#macronutrients

[6] Venkatraman, J. T., Leddy, J., & Pendergast, D. (2000). Dietary fats and immune status in athletes: clinical implications. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 32(7), S389. https://journals.lww.com/acsm-msse/Fulltext/2000/07001/Dietary_fats_and_immune_status_in_athletes_.3.aspx

[7] Khazai, N., Judd, S. E., & Tangpricha, V. (2008). Calcium and vitamin D: skeletal and extraskeletal health. Current rheumatology reports, 10(2), 110–117. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11926-008-0020-y

[8] National Institutes of Health. (2023, August 17). Office of Dietary Supplements - Iron. National Institutes of Health; National Institutes of Health. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Iron-Consumer/#:~:text=Iron%20is%20a%20mineral%20that

[9] Sim, M., Blekkenhorst, L. C., Bondonno, N. P., Radavelli-Bagatini, S., Peeling, P., Bondonno, C. P., Magliano, D. J., Shaw, J. E., Woodman, R., Murray, K., Lewis, J. R., Daly, R. M., & Hodgson, J. M. (2021). Dietary Nitrate Intake Is Positively Associated with Muscle Function in Men and Women Independent of Physical Activity Levels. The Journal of Nutrition, 151(5), 1222–1230. https://doi.org/10.1093/jn/nxaa415

Back to blog