A balanced diet

It is extremely important to eat a healthy and well-balanced diet; this is particularly important for elite sportspeople, as diet can play a huge part in determining the level of an athlete’s performance. Intensive exercise burns off a large number of calories and the body must be constantly refuelled to enable it to continue working effectively and efficiently. Eating a range of foods from different food groups will ensure an athlete gets all the essential nutrients, minerals and vitamins they need to maintain a good level of general health as well contributing to producing an effective performance. Ideally, meals should contain a mixture of carbohydrates, fats, proteins and fruits and vegetables, with fruit and vegetables and carbohydrates constituting the bulk of the meal.


Most athletes eat a carbohydrate-rich diet as this helps to keep them fuelled; complex carbohydrates release energy slowly which enables the body to keep working for long periods of time. Examples of foods with a high content of complex carbohydrates include pasta, rice, bread and cereals.


Proteins are essential for muscle growth and repair and are therefore an important part of an athlete’s diet. Examples of protein-rich foods include meat, fish and eggs.


Fats are an essential element of a balanced diet and are needed to transport and absorb vitamins and minerals. The intake of fats should be moderated, especially saturated fats, which can build up in the arteries and contribute to serious health issues including heart disease. Foods that are high in ‘good’ fats include avocadoes, nuts and oily fish.

Fruits and vegetables

Fruits and vegetables contain a huge range of vitamins, minerals and nutrients, which are essential for the successful completion of several daily activities as well as increasing the efficacy of the immune system which increases resistance to illness and infection. It is important to try and eat a range of fruits and vegetables as this will ensure all the necessary vitamins and minerals are consumed.

Sports and Nutrition Guide Index:

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