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Healthy Diet for Athletes
Healthy Diet Guidelines

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Whether you decide to eat for health, to slim or to gain muscle, the diet remains the same throughout. All bad foods should be avoided and all the good foods should be provided to give you a balanced intake of energy and nutrients. The same applies to slimming, but the energy gained from the food should be burned off with exercise to promote weight loss. Athletes also need to watch their diet as the wrong foods can hinder the muscle building process. In this case, the amount of calories should be increased to compensate for the higher activity level, but instead of increasing the size of your main meals a selection of smaller snacks can be eaten between them - and so prevent the feeling of hunger. Even if you don't consider yourself in need of muscle gain or a loss of fat, it is still important to eat correctly to improve your health, your energy levels and your ability to fight off disease.

A good idea is to study a calorie chart and find all the foods you want to include within your diet. Try to make your meals as varied as possible to keep you interested and to prevent you from cheating! Never try to include your chosen items in every meal - such as a stew, broth or soup mix as this will lead to boredom with your diet and a craving for less health options. A simple seven day menu can be found below based on 1,200 calories per day and contains all the nutrients you need in a diet. Non-slimmers may wish to add a little more to this menu to give them the 2,000 calories normally recommended for daily consumption. Vegetarians should note that the diet is also mostly suitable for them, although you will need to substitute all meat products with vegetarian alternatives (pasta, rice, jacket potato). Extra advice for bodybuilders can also be found at the end.

  • DAY 1 BREAKFAST - 1 orange 1 boiled egg 1oz/30g wholemeal bread 2tsp low-fat spread LUNCH - 3oz/90g tuna fish Salad of lettuce, onions and 1 tomato 2 celery sticks 1oz/30g beetroot 2tsp salad cream 2 crispbreads 1 apple DINNER - 3oz/90g chicken without skin cook in casserole with 3oz/90g carrots 4oz/120g onions 2oz/60g parsnips 3oz/90g turnips 3oz/90g jacket potato 4oz/120g cooked green vegetable 1 pear
  • DAY 2 BREAKFAST - Half grapefruit 1oz/30g bran cereal 2.5 fl oz/75ml natural yoghurt LUNCH - 3oz/90g lean ham 3oz/90g mixed bean salad (red/haricot/chick/butter) 1tsp chopped parsley 2oz/60g chopped onions Salad of lettuce, 1 tomato, cucumber and celery 2tsp vegetable oil 1 medium slice melon DINNER - Vegetable soup using 1 stock cube, and 6oz/180g celery, onion and carrot 4oz/120g white fish cooked with 4floz/120g skimmed milk, thickened with 1tsp cornflour and parsley 4oz/120g green beans 1tsp margarine 1 baked apple
  • DAY 3 BREAKFAST - 4oz/120ml unsweetened orange or grapefruit juice 2oz/60g drained sardines 1oz/30g brown bread 2tsp low-fat spread 1 tomato LUNCH - 4oz/120g cottage cheese 2 crispbread Salad of 1 tomato, celery, cucumber, grated carrot shredded cabbage, onion and red pepper 2tsp low-fat spread/cheese 1 banana DINNER - 3oz/90g sauteed onion in 2tsp vegetable oil with 3oz/90g liver and saute for 7 mins 3oz/90g cooked brown rice 4oz/120g spinach 1 tomato 4oz/120g mushrooms 4oz/120g fresh fruit salad 2.5oz/75ml natural yoghurt
  • DAY 4 BREAKFAST - 4oz/120g grapes 1 scrambled egg 1 tomato 1oz/30g brown bread 2tsp low-fat spread LUNCH - Macaroni cheese made with 3oz/90g cooked macaroni 2oz/60g grated cheese mixed with 3oz/90g mushrooms and 3oz/90g cauliflower 2floz/50ml skimmed milk Serve with salad 1 orange DINNER - 4oz/120g mackerel, canned or fresh 3oz/90g potato 3oz/90g peas 3oz/90g carrots 1 apple
  • DAY 5 BREAKFAST - 3oz/90g stewed prunes with their juice 1.5/45g muesli 5fl oz/150ml natural yoghurt LUNCH - 3oz/90g baked beans 1 egg (not fried) 1oz/30g brown bread 2tsp low-fat spread Salad of grated cabbage, onion, carrot, celery and pepper 4oz/120g pineapple DINNER - 4oz/120g salmon, fresh or canned Cucumber 2oz/60g corn on the cob 2oz/60g green beans 2oz/60g pepper 2tsp low-fat spread 1 orange
  • DAY 6 BREAKFAST - Half grapefruit 1 poached egg 1 tomato 3oz/90g mushrooms 1oz/30g wholemeal bread 2tsp low-fat spread LUNCH - 3oz/90g jacket potato filled with 3oz/90g shrimps Chopped parsley 2tsp low calorie salad cream Salad of lettuce, celery, cucumber, pepper, onion 1 pear DINNER - 4oz/120g cooked turkey without skin 3oz/90g cooked pasta mixed with 2oz/60g cooked peas 2oz/60g cooked celery 1tbsp chopped chives or spring onion 1tsp vegetable oil 4oz/120g spinach 5oz/120 blackcurrants 2.5fl oz/75ml natural yoghurt
  • DAY 7 BREAKFAST - 4oz/120g pineapple 1oz/30g porridge 5fl oz/120ml skimmed milk 2tsp honey LUNCH - 3oz/90g lean beef 3oz/90g baked jacket potato 2tsp low-fat spread 4oz/120g spring greens 3oz/90g carrots 3oz/90g boiled parsnips 5oz/150g strawberries 2.5fl oz/75ml natural yoghurt DINNER - 3oz/90g canned drained pilchards Mixed salad of lettuce, tomato, celery cucumber and peppers 3 crispbreads 2tsp low-fat cheese 4oz/120g plums

If you can't eat lunch at home, you can prepare meals beforehand and take them out with you.

   TAKE OUT -  2oz/60g low-fat cheese
               2oz/60g brown bread roll
               Mixed salad
               2tsp low-fat mayonnaise
               1 orange

   TAKE OUT -  2oz/60g large bread roll and fill with
               Mixed salad
               2tsp low-fat salad cream
               Other product (shrimp, ham or egg)

This is a sample menu for just one week. Try to invent similar meals for a whole month to start you off, then mix up the meals you have tried already with new ones for subsequent months. If you like a number of meals you have chosen, try to include them frequently so you can look forward to them during the week. Many people include a 'break day' once a week where they can relax their eating habits a little. This day should be a Monday or Friday if possible so you can look forward to it over the weekend or though the week. Never use a Saturday or Sunday when you may be tempted to eat snacks during the day or over-eat in the evening. Try to be sensible - you don't want to undo all the hard work of the last 6 days by being greedy on day 7. Keep an accurate record of your weight and reward yourself a luxury if you have made good progress. For example, you may loose 6 or 7lb after a month of eating healthy meals, don't you deserve a cream cake or a bar of chocolate. Eating for health doesn't have to be all lettuce and tomatoes, just common sense.

Bodybuilders and weight trainers should also eat healthy foods such as these for best muscle growth. When a muscle is trying to grow, it will get its building material from the food in your body. A muscle built on fresh fruit and vegetables will grow strong, a muscle built on burgers and chips will grow fat! Because bodybuilders need more energy for their physical activities, they also need more food to make energy and an average bodybuilder should look towards a 3,000 to 5,000 calorie per day diet. To achieve this you can sense the diet above with snacks in the morning, afternoon and evening. Such snacks can include:

   1 sausage roll or small pie
   1 peanut butter sandwich using wholemeal bread
   2oz/60g cereal with 10fl oz/300ml milk
   2oz/60g ice cream with 2 shortbread biscuits
   1 slice fruit pie with 5fl oz/150ml milk
   6oz/180g rice pudding with 1 sliced pear
   2 slices of date and nut bread
   3oz/90g sardines on toast with 2tsp margarine
   2 oatcakes with 3oz/90g cream cheese
   2 digestive biscuits

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