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Learn to Eat Like a Pro Athlete


Trying to balance a healthy diet and exercise routine can be complicated, but there are ways to make these two work together.

Although it may seem like athletes have the formula down to a science, even they seek the help of dietitians and health experts to stay on track.

Follow these four tips from sports nutritionists and other health experts on how to nurture your body for a high-intensity workout and for better health:

Don't Skip Breakfast

"One of the biggest mistakes athletes make is heading out for a run in the morning without eating anything first," says Dan Benardot, PhD, RD, director of the Laboratory for Elite Athlete Performance at Georgia State University in Atlanta.

While you may not be heading out the door in the morning to work out, you should still avoid skipping breakfast as you leave for work or start your day. When you wake up in the morning, your blood sugar is low, which can result in your feeling tired and lethargic for a great part of your day. Try eating something small if you are not used to eating in the morning. Eat something that is carb-laden, like half a bagel or some toast, as soon as you get out of bed.

Boost Your Immunity

One of the best things you can do to stay healthy and better your performance is to make sure there is a good amount of antioxidants and super-foods in your diet. Beth Duryea, head soigneur for the specialized-lululemon women's cycling team, encourages the women on the team to incorporate whole-grain carbohydrates, lean proteins and colorful fruits and veggies into their snacks and meals every day. Duryea also recommends taking a multivitamin on a daily basis to help boost your immune system.

Amanda Carlson-Phillips, vice president of nutrition and research for Athletes' Performance in Phoenix, Arizona, also suggests stocking up on Greek yogurt, which is high in probiotics and good for your body. You can sprinkle some walnuts and fruit or flax seeds on top for an added antioxidant boost.

Put More Iron into Your Diet

Health experts say that even among top performing female athletes, it is common to be deficient in iron. This is significant especially for athletes because it can slow them down and increase the risk of injury in any sport. Iron deficiency can slow you down as well throughout your day even if you are not planning on training for a marathon. It can cause fatigue and impair your ability to concentrate and do physical work. In order to avoid this, nutritionists recommend that you include plenty of iron-packed products, such as oatmeal, fortified cereals, red meat and spinach into your meals.

Prep Your Meals

Although you may not travel all over the world to compete like Olympic athletes do, you may still have trouble maintaining your diet plan or physical routine. Alicia Kendig, sports dietician and athlete performance lab coordinator at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado, says that athletes solve this issue by doing a lot of planning on what to eat. Kendig recommends you create a plan for the week on Sunday so that you can stay on course with your diet plan throughout the week. Try to prepare healthy snacks and meals that you can easily grab throughout the week. This will create a sense of accountability for yourself, and it will allow you to get all of the food and energy you need daily without having to worry about what you are eating.

Source: Fitness Magazine