Fueling the Machine: the Diets of Top Athletes – Sports Medicine Weekly | Dr. Brian J. Cole
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Published on: 22-Mar-2021

Although it might seem so obvious that it scarcely needs to be repeated, when looking at the performance of top athletes, we cannot overstate the importance of proper nutrition. Regardless of whether you are a long-distance runner or a line-backer in the NFL, athletes in both disciplines will be united by how much attention they need to pay to their diet.

Despite being so important to the performance of professional athletes, however, there is still a huge amount of variation when it comes to how they fuel their bodies. While you might think that the biggest variable is the sport the athlete in question plays, you would be surprised at how and why athletes structure their individual diets in the way they do.

Who knows, you might even be able to use this information to help you make a sportsbook announcement of who you want to place a wager on which can be found right here on Worlds Sports Network (WSN). Although this might seem like a tenuous link, there is genuine data that links high-quality diets to injury rates and athletes’ longevity. Paying attention to the diets of top athletes, then, might help you to place a sportsbook wager in the near future!

With that said, let’s take a look at the diets and nutrition of top athletes to see what basic principles we can draw from them.

King of the court: how does LeBron James fuel his games?

As one of the most decorated basketball players ever to grace an NBA court, LeBron James has had to pay careful attention to how he fuels his body. In a recent interview with Tim Ferris, LeBron broke down some of staples he tends to structure his diet around.

For game days, where performance is particularly important, LeBron tends to start his day with an egg-white omelet, smoked salmon, and gluten-free pancakes with berries. This is followed up at lunch with whole wheat pasta, salmon and lots of fresh vegetables.

In preparation for the game, LeBron will have a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, which will be followed up at half-time by apple slices topped with almond butter. After the final whistle blows, he will down a protein shake, using a plant-based protein powder mixed with fruits and almond milk.

For dinner, LeBron will once again build a meal around fresh vegetables, a clean source of protein and a complex carbohydrate. Most nights, this will be followed by a glass of wine!

King of the field: how does Tom Brady stay in shape?

Much like LeBron James, Tom Brady can legitimately make a claim to being one of the greatest footballers to ever step onto a football field. Brady is also known to follow a strict diet year-round.

After hydrating when he wakes up, the first thing Brady will consume is a fruit-rich smoothie, packed with fresh fruit, seeds and healthy fats from nut butters.

Following his morning workout, Brady will then drink a protein shake with added electrolytes, to keep himself properly hydrated. Lunch follows soon after and is usually a fairly simple affair, comprising a piece of fish and lots of vegetables. Meals are supplemented by snacks throughout the day, which generally include fruit, nuts and protein bars, as well as hummus and guacamole. Dinner rounds off the day and will be quite similar to lunch.

Perhaps most notably, Brady is strict in abstaining from alcohol and dessert. He also tries to build his diet to be mostly organic and plant-based, as well as alkaline in nature. According to Brady, this minimizes inflammation in the body and aids recovery.

What basis principles can we identify?

Although there is a huge amount of variety in terms of what athletes eat on a day-to-day basis, we can nevertheless identify some basic principles they all seem to follow. And perhaps most interestingly, these seem to be in line with what nutritionists have identified as the healthiest diet.

Firstly, we can see that there is a big emphasis on whole foods. Based on the above, there is little room for processed foods in the diets of athletes, who tend to stick to fresh vegetables, complex carbohydrates and clean sources of protein, rich with healthy fats.

Secondly, we get a sense of how important timing is. The athletes listed above are very deliberate in how and when they eat, with a big focus on meal timing. On match days, athletes tend to make sure they have fully digested all their meals before show time, with snacks used strategically to keep them fueled up. There is also a big focus on pre- and post-workout nutrition, which helps to kickstart the recovery process.

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