Foods To Avoid Food For Athletes And What Athletes Eat

How athletes eat, what athletes eat and the overall nutrition choices they make every day can have a powerful impact on athletic performance. Most doctors, nutritionists and trainers recommend the same basic diet fundamentals for athletes that they advocate for non-athletes. Everyone, no matter how active, should consume plenty of whole grain carbohydrates, leafy green vegetables, lean proteins and fresh fruit.

What Athletes Eat: Five Foods to Avoid

Some foods can create considerable obstacles for athletes, not only impacting their overall health, but their performance on the field as well. Food for athletes and active people should not include any of the following items for optimal performance for competition:

  1. Excess alcohol: Alcohol is both a depressant and diuretic, and can leave you dehydrated and depressed. Avoid excess alcohol at all times, and avoid drinking any alcohol before training or competition.
  2. Excess sugar: Food for athletes can include a small amount of natural sugar, like the kind found in fruit, since this can provide a healthy energy boost if consumed immediately before a workout. However, excess refined sugar and high fructose corn syrup (like the kind found in candy and soft drinks) can interfere with blood sugar levels and cause fatigue and blood sugar crashes.
  3. Fried foods: Foods to avoid include those that have been deep-fried in oil, especially oil that contains trans-fats, since these offer little, if any, benefit and may cause considerable harm. Fried foods are also harder to digest and may make you feel tired and lethargic.
  4. Monotonous Diet: Everyone needs a wide variety of complex carbohydrates, vegetables, fruits and proteins. While juggling a busy schedule and a demanding training routine, it can be easy to slip onto an eating treadmill when it comes to meals and food. Some athletes come to trust certain foods more than others, since they seem to have a positive effect on well-being and performance, and then become reluctant to change their routine. Keep meals varied and fresh to ensure optimal nutrition.
  5. Trans-fats and unhealthy fats: All athletes need a certain amount of dietary fat, but make sure you emphasize healthy fats, like those found in peanut butter, fish and olive oil. Avoid trans-fats (look for “partially hydrogenated” in the ingredients) and try to choose baked lean meats, like chicken and fish, over bacon or beef. Fat consumption should fall below 15 percent of total food intake.

Not eating, or fasting, is also a serious concern, especially among young teenage athletes. Many young athletes decide to fast as a means of weight control, but this is a poor decision. Skipping meals can wreak havoc on blood sugar levels, and can lead to serious health problems in addition to poor athletic performance.


Anderson, J., Young, L., and Prior. S. (2010). Nutrition for the Athlete. Retrieved May 16, 2011, from

Blackley, J. (n.d.). Foods female athletes should avoid. Retrieved May 16, 2011, from