Peak athletic performance and effective recovery depend heavily on a well-planned nutritional strategy where balancing carbohydrates, proteins and fats is essential to meet energy needs and support muscle repair and growth. Research indicates athletes should aim for 45-65% of their diet from carbohydrates, 10-30% from proteins, and 25-35% from fats.

From training to recovery: Expert tips on nutrition for athletes (Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels)

In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Simrat Kathuria, Founder and Dietitian at The Diet Xperts, shared, “Carbohydrates, especially complex ones from whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, are the main energy source for high-intensity activities, providing steady energy and necessary nutrients. Proteins are vital for muscle development, maintenance and repair, with lean sources such as meats, poultry, fish, eggs, legumes and soy being crucial. Healthy fats, which are often misunderstood, are essential for energy production, nutrient absorption and overall health, with sources like avocados, nuts, seeds and fatty fish recommended.”

She added, “Hydration is equally important, with adequate fluids necessary before, during and after workouts to prevent dehydration. Timing of nutrient intake matters too, with balanced meals needed 3 hours before exercise and snacks 1-2 hours prior for energy. Post-exercise, recovery foods consumed within 30 minutes and again 1-2 hours later help restore glycogen, repair muscles, and promote growth. Adequate rest and recovery allow the body to adapt to training demands. Importantly, consulting a sports dietitian can help develop a personalised nutrition plan tailored to an athlete’s specific goals, considering factors such as age, gender, body composition and training regimen.”

Bringing his expertise to the same, Shivam Dubey, Health Coach and Fitness Influencer, recommended –

  1. Total Macros: Athletes need higher macronutrient intake due to increased physical activity, with ratios varying by sport. Sprinters, for example, might consume 55% carbs, 25% protein, and 20% fat. Their meals could include oatmeal with berries, a chicken quinoa salad and salmon with sweet potato.
  2. Pre and Post Nutrition: For pre-workout, choose easy-to-digest protein and carbs like eggs and rice. A footballer could have scrambled eggs with rice 2 hours before a match. Post-game, a whey protein shake with bananas helps replenish glycogen and aid muscle recovery.
  3. Hydration: To maintain performance, it is recommended to drink 400-800 ml of water in the 2 hours before a game. Sip water or a sports drink every 20 minutes during and rehydrate post-game with water, electrolytes and carbohydrates.
  4. Vitamins and Minerals: For athletes it is especially important to meet the RDA for all vitamins and minerals. For example the RDA for Vitamin C is 80mg, so the athlete can have 1 guava a day to ensure this. Similarly the athlete should try to meet the RDA for all necessary micronutrients.
  5. Ergogenic Aids: Even a 1-2% performance boost can be significant for athletes. Supplements like caffeine and creatine can improve performance by 3-5%. Athletes should try scientifically backed, WADA-approved supplements for better performance.