5 Diet Mistakes That Derail Your Workouts

Your diet may be the missing link in your training plan. Here are some common nutrition mistakes that many athletes and exercise enthusiasts make that can negatively affect performance. (Don’t worry; we’ve got you covered with the solutions, too!)
 

#1: You Eat Too Little (or Too Much) Protein

Some athletes eat too little protein; others eat too much. Too little protein and your muscles can’t recover, repair and strengthen properly from hard training. Too much protein taxes your kidneys, leads to an excessive calorie intake (which can result in excess body fat), or replaces the other equally important foods and nutrients that are needed for optimal performance.
 
Solution:  Determine your daily protein needs and develop the meal plans that will deliver the appropriate amount for your exercise level. And remember: Don't overdo it on the protein shakes, either. Not every athlete really needs these supplements, and they can contribute to excessive protein intake.

#2:  You're Skimping on Iron

Iron deficiency causes needless fatigue and reduced performance and is particularly common among women who have heavy periods, participate in endurance events, and rarely or never eat red meat or iron-enriched foods (like breakfast cereals).

Solution: If you feel needlessly tired, get your blood tested by your doctor, and be sure to get your serum ferritin measured. Don’t take an iron supplement without confirmation of low iron or advice from your doctor.   
 
To help prevent anemia, strive to eat an iron-rich diet featuring:

  • Beef, pork, lamb, dark-meat chicken or turkey, salmon and tuna
  • Beans (black, kidney, garbanzo, navy, great Northern, etc.)
  • Iron-fortified cereals and iron-fortified whole grain breads, pasta and brown rice

To enhance iron absorption, have a vitamin-C rich food at every meal such as orange juice, berries, kiwi, broccoli, tomato, potato and sweet bell peppers.

#3:  You Don't Have Time to Eat After Working Out

At the end of a hard workout, remember that you haven't finished your training until you have refueled. Ideally, this should happen within the 30 minutes to 2 hours after your workout ends. Don't rush off to work or school, using the "no time to eat" excuse.

Solution: Plan ahead so you have recovery foods readily available. Even in a time crunch, you should be able to refuel your muscles properly. Post-workout nutrition doesn't have to be complicated. Think yogurt-fruit smoothie, a large glass of chocolate milk, or English muffin with peanut butter. "No time" is no excuse.

#4: You Skimp on Carbs

Recovery foods should offer a foundation of carbohydrates with protein as the accompaniment—not the other way around. The complete package is needed. You need to fill those glycogen (energy) stores with carbohydrates to fuel future workouts and repair your hard-working muscles with a little protein. One or the other won't cut it.
 
Solution: A reasonable target is to consume about 180-240 calories of carbohydrates (45-60 grams) and about 65-80 calories (15-20 grams) of protein after a high-intensity workout. Standard food fare works fine (no shakes, supplements or specialty bars needed). Some popular choices include Greek yogurt with fruit and honey, pasta with meat sauce, or chicken and veggies over rice.

#5: You're Not Drinking Enough

To train harder and perform better, you need to stay well-hydrated. Losing just one percent of your body weight in sweat causes your heart to beat three to five more times per minute, thus creating even more fatigue during your workout or event.

Solution: If you are well-hydrated, you will need to urinate every two to four hours, and your urine will be a light color. If you sweat heavily, you need to learn how much fluid you lose (and thereby need to replace) during a workout. Do this by weighing yourself naked before and after exercise. For each pound lost, you should drink at least 16 to 24 ounces of fluid. Be sure to drink adequately all day, not just during or after your workouts.

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Member Comments

Thanks Report
Great info! Thanks! Knowledge is power! Report
Great article! Report
Thank You Report
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CECTARR
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Thank God I don’t work out. Report
There is no one size fits all in weight loss. In the end every “diet” works but if we don’t create a lifestyle to live, not just to lose then we are destined to have to repeat the journey.
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Watch your sodium
There is 390 mg of sodium in 1/2 ,cup of cottage cheese. Look it up. I think we are not have more than 1 teaspoon of salt pet day Report
I was at the cardiologist yesterday and my legs and feet were swollen. I had not been watching my sodium. So I was placed on a low sodium diet. I was told by the ER doctor that I had congestive heart failure. The cardiologist totally disagreed. I was so mad and so was the cardiologist!! For me he said absolute no keto diet. Report
Knowledge is power...Thx! Report
THANKS Report
#5 I’m not drinking enough! Help! Report
ETHELMERZ
Do NOT skimp on carbs! You will become a nasty fishwife, and no one will want to be around you, even if you lost weight! Report
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About The Author

Becky Hand
Becky Hand
Becky is a registered and licensed dietitian with almost 20 years of experience. A certified health coach through the Cooper Institute with a master's degree in health education, she makes nutrition principles practical, easy-to-apply and fun. See all of Becky's articles.