If you are an athlete or just someone who likes to stay fit, you would pay a lot of attention to your diet. There are so many diets out there that are made especially for athletes, some are extremely rigid while other diets are more flexed out.
Let’s look at some popular diets that are believed to help athletes.
The Atkins Diet
The Atkins Diet first became popular in 1972 by doctor Robert C. Atkins. Around the 1970s there were very few diets to start with. The Atkins diet received a lot of backlash from other health experts because it contradicted the accepted notion that saturated fats are bad for health. Over the recent years, researchers developed that saturated fats are not the problem, they can be used as effective sources of energy. That’s when the Atkins diet became popular. It wasn’t as rigid at a Ketogenic diet, which meant that diabetics could follow it and lose weight without worrying about hypoglycaemic shock.
The diet is high on fats because it uses fats as a fuel the burns stored fats. This gives athletes a lot more energy and helps them stay light and active. The low amounts of carbs are stored as energy and an athlete often uses this energy when they compete in events.
The Zone Diet
The Zone diet emerged in 1995 by an American biochemist, Dr. Barry Sears. It is based on a theory that we are in ‘the zone’ when we consume a diet containing 40% carbs, 30% protein and 30% fat, every 4-6 hours.
Dr. Sears’s focus was to reduce insulin levels by specifying that the carbs included in this diet, should be complex with more roughage. It argued that the zone diet is more for our body because millets, barley, corn, rice have been a part of our diet and lifestyle for a very long time. Having the Zone diet was said to keep athletes on their optimum best physicality.
However, recently, the Zone diet has been criticised to be an inefficient diet especially for athletes. The Zone’s 40:30:30 makes it a very impractical formula for day to day life. Though the Zone diet has proved to be beneficial for athletes who are trying to lose body fat, it doesn’t have enough data supporting its’ effectiveness on those who have low body fat and are trying to train to build strength.
The Ketogenic Diet
The ketogenic diet is one of the more popular diets on the list. It is similar to the Atkins diet but much more restrictive because it includes very little carbohydrates and uses fats as its main source of energy. The diet is said to be ideal for those who are aiming to get a fitter leaner body.
This diet originally helped many with epilepsy and has also proven to be very effective among endurance trainers. However, recent studies suggest that it may not be as effective for those who require shorts spurts of energy like sprinters. A study conducted in 2017 on short distance runners showed that after a few days of the diet, athletes showed a deterioration in their performance. Long distance runners however performed better in this diet. So, a ketogenic diet may work exceptionally well for an athlete as long as it suits the type of sport you train for.
Most of the above-mentioned diets have been extensively researched by experts who have collected data for years to prove the effectiveness of these diets in different situation. However, this does not mean that they are the optimum diet and will work 100% of the time. We are different and different athletes specialise in different things, have different training regimes and lifestyle. With so many things that are different it is difficult to find a universal diet that will work for everyone.
With every advantage, each diet has a few disadvantages as well. Which is why you must do your research and consult medical practitioners before taking the next step forward.
In fact, an article written by a well known fitness trainer Ben Greenfield talks about the major concerns of some of the popular diets in one of his article. He also interviewed many famous athletes and realised that very few of them had a specific diet. Most really ate a balanced diet and tried to be healthy. To quote, he said, ‘experts are just as confused as we are.’
The truth is, we can maintain good health by watching what we eat and maintaining our required calories. As athletes, you already have a good physique from training and practicing. Your diet should be one that compliments your lifestyle, helps you repair damaged muscles cells and help you perform better.
Lastly, our discipline pushes you forward. Proper sports gear also allows you to stay comfortable while you improve your performance.