The diet recommended for an athlete differs little from the diet suggested for any healthy individual. The
Complex carbohydrates are a diet staple. They are found in foods such as pasta, bagels, whole grain breads and rice. They provide energy,
The classical method of carbohydrate loading has been abandoned and replaced by a modified method which is safer and equally effective at increasing muscle glycogen. The most important factor influencing glycogen stores is to consume 50 - 60% of calories from carbohydrates on a daily basis.
Protein's most important functions in the body are to support growth and to repair body tissues. Many people feel athletes need a high-protein diet to support muscle growth despite the fact that researchers have repeatedly proved this false.
It is also a myth that a high-protein diet will promote muscle growth. Only strength training and exercise will promote changes in muscle. Athletes, even body builders, require only small increases over normal needs in order to support muscle growth. Athletes easily meet this increased need by simply consuming more total calories (eating more food).
Americans already eat almost twice as much protein as they need, so protein needs for muscle development are being met before strength training begins. Excess protein is used as energy and can be stored as body fat.
Review Date: 03/03/2009
Reviewed By: Linda Vorvick, MD, Family Physician, Seattle Site Coordinator, Lecturer, Pathophysiology, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.