Practice the Fundamentals
Forget complicated meal plans. Build good eating habits around basic food knowledge, and keep these three guidelines in mind.
Outside's long reads email newsletter features our strongest writing, most ambitious reporting, and award-winning storytelling about the outdoors. Sign up today.
1. BE REGULAR: The number-one improvement athletes can make to their diets is to structure their eating. Studies have linked regular meals with more consistent blood-sugar levels, lower cholesterol, and increased lean body mass.
Recipe for Success: Plan for three meals a day and two snacks in between. Eat every three to four hours to keep hunger at bay.
2. SIMPLIFY: “Eating well doesn’t have to be about restrictions,” says Leslie Bonci, director of sports nutrition at the University of Pittsburgh. “Rather than dwell on every calorie, focus on big-picture needs—proteins, carbohydrates, and fats.”
Recipe for Success: Divide every meal into thirds. The first third should be protein, such as fish or chicken; the second, fruits and vegetables; the third, grains.
3. DON’T JUST FILL, FUEL: “A lot of people use exercise as a free pass to eat whatever they want,” says dietitian Kelli Jennings of Apex Nutrition in Golden, Colorado. “Exercise should complement your diet, not sabotage it.”
Recipe for Success: Jennings suggests distinguishing between daily eating and training nutrition, with an emphasis on performance calories on the days you exercise and healthy, whole-food nutrition on the days you don’t.