[Guest Post] Best Nutrition for Athletes

best nutrition for athletes factor 75

At Duke University, our Sports Performance staff works with 26 different teams in a wide variety of men’s and women’s sports.

Each of these sports has different energy and muscular demands for training and competition, and those demands present specific nutritional needs that must be met for athletes to be successful on game day.

We consider proper nutrition (what we call ‘eating to win’) to be one of the major pillars of success in our athletes’ athletic endeavors.


Along with intense and appropriate training and preparation – and knowing the best way to recover from a workout – successful eating strategies will help an individual achieve desired training goals. But the best nutrition for athletes varies based on their sport and their goals.

By supporting the specific demands of training for each sport, effective daily nutritional strategies will put our athletes in a better position to win. We encourage our athletes to consider the body types most-often seen in successful competitors in their given sports.

Endurance athletes are often very slim with lean muscle mass that helps them attack the significant numbers of miles they cover in their events. They need to be strong but do not want to be weighed down by too much overall mass, because anything beyond the required muscle to make them go will only slow them down.


Strength and power athletes often carry a heavy bulk of muscle mass to move the heavy weights with which they train, in order to be strong enough and powerful enough on game day to out-battle their opponents.

They get stronger and add additional muscle by training with ever-increasing amounts of weight, and this presents a need for a different type of nutritional approach than an endurance athlete might need in order to be successful.

Each in their own way, these two very different types of individuals must use the right nutritional strategies to support their training, and in turn use their training programs to help them win.

Every individual will have an optimal daily ratio of protein, carbohydrates, and healthy fats to make their training routines work best for them and optimally enhance performance.

Make sure that the foods you eat give you the best mix of these macro-nutrients to support your own specific training and competition goals!


Dan Perlmutter

Featured image courtesy of New York Times

Related Articles


5 Reasons All Athletes Should Do Yoga

Lifestyle, Nutrition

9 Simple Dairy-Free Diet Swaps


6 Reasons You Should Be Strength Training


How Omega-3s Can Boost Your Heart Health