The Health Advocate

by Hannah Whittenly, The Health Advocate

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Being a healthy athlete is about more than drinking vitamin water and eating lots of chicken breasts. To truly appreciate the performance-enhancing qualities of your pantry, you might need to shake things up with your diet. Here are just four foods to consider the next time that you're in the grocery store.

1. Bananas

You're probably familiar with potassium for its role in muscle contractions, but it also serves another purpose: It's an electrolyte, the kind that needs to be replenished after heavy physical exertion. Let some quick and easy bananas serve as your potassium source. Not only will they help your muscles and fluid levels, but they'll also pair quite nicely with things like peanut butter and chocolate milk, so you can cram a bunch of high-value workout foods into a single snacking session.

2. Nuts

Nuts are rich in unsaturated fatty acids that can help everything from your heart to your cholesterol levels. They're also good sources of fiber, so they'll ease your digestion issues and keep you feeling fuller for longer periods of time. Whether you're training for a marathon or just practicing lay-ups for hours on end, think about increasing the amount of nuts in your diet. Almonds, walnuts, peanuts and pecans are all equally healthy when consumed in moderation.

3. Oatmeal

Oatmeal is a staple in healthy smoothies because it will provide great nutritional value without detracting from the taste of other ingredients. You can also eat it plain to carbo-load when you need a quick burst of energy to get going. Just make sure that you purchase steel-cut oats so that you won't have to suffer the high glycemic index of instant oats. You don't want to undo all of the benefits of eating oatmeal in the first place.

4. Salmon

As an athlete, you probably put a lot of stress on your body, so it can help to offset some of the pressure with anti-inflammatory foods like salmon. Not only will this fish reduce some of the swelling that you face after intense training sessions, but it also contains omega-3 fatty acids like EPA and DHA that will boost your cardiovascular function. You can't score touchdowns with a weak heart, so go ahead and pencil in salmon for dinner.

These are just four foods that every athlete should have in their diet. If you need help re-configuring your meal plan, consider contacting professional nutrition experts, such as those with Plan 7 Coaching, who can give you the skinny on healthy eating. Your best performance on the field is just waiting to be unlocked with the right foods.

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