The Benefits of Incorporating Unprocessed Foods into an Athlete’s Diet

Three clear containers holding healthy food made of various veggies and nuts.

In primeval times, the average human was constantly active in the effort to find food and protection. Nowadays, these prehistoric ancestors of ours would be equal to an average professional athlete when it comes to energy consumption. Their diets were almost entirely based on unprocessed food with lots of raw veggies and fruits they got their hands on. It did them well because look at how far humanity got with such a healthy start. However, many doctors worldwide will tell you that a lot of processed food is bad for one thing or another related to your health. But let's go into details now with a focus on the why. Athletes are today's humans that put their bodies on the brink of endurance, and health and nutrition are crucial for them. Here are some benefits of incorporating unprocessed foods into an athlete's diet.

Your mood will be more positive

To be able to achieve feats that are on edge or even beyond human capabilities, athletes need their minds clear and their moods positive. Irritability, depression, and anger can destroy one's career in sports. Therefore, this point is extremely relevant. Processed foods contain large amounts of sugars and white flour. Both of these members of the Five Deadly Whites group, as they call it, are known to contribute to moodiness in all forms. We are talking about depression, anxiety, irritability, and overall feeling of stress. Eliminating the unhealthy food options that promote bad moods and sticking to unprocessed ones can be game changers.

That kind of food promotes better sleep

Another way sugar from foods that undergo processing affects you negatively is by hindering your sleep. The high amounts of it in your bloodstream keep you wired, making it difficult at night to wind down. Also, the fats from this type of food interrupt the proper function of the neurochemicals in your brain, whose job is to stimulate sleep regularly. Normal sleep is important for general health, and not getting enough of it or getting it in irregular intervals can affect your athletic performance. Unprocessed food can help regulate this issue.

A woman sleeping in a gray tank top.

Incorporating unprocessed foods into an athlete’s diet promotes better sleep.

Incorporating unprocessed foods into an athlete's diet may improve their muscle tone

A muscle needs the appropriate amount of healthy fats and proteins to repair itself after strenuous activity and to grow. Clean, whole foods are full of these ingredients. When you cut unhealthy fats and sugars, you will ingest only what your body needs in large quantities. With no empty, fat-building calories, your muscles will show even more. All your hard work will become evident once you take your shirt off. You are probably aware that more voluminous muscles are scientifically proven to enhance the ability to perform specific motoric tasks such as jumping, sprinting, or changing direction fast. Therefore, whatever helps build muscles without adding fat is worth doing. 

Unprocessed foods are a great source of energy

Energy is vital if you want to be active. Athletes push their bodies to the limit, draining the last drop of energy their organisms squeeze out of food. For example, one can choose from various popular sports in Hamilton, Canada. Those are great ways to stay active, but they all require adequate energy intake. Unprocessed foods are a great source of energy. When you eat junk food or food that has gone through too much processing, your body must work a lot more to digest it. Your organs encounter unnecessary substances they don't know what to do with. In that process, a lot of energy is wasted, and not much is put in. The situation is entirely different when using clean food in an athlete's diet.

A woman’s well-built back.

Eating clean will help build muscle tone without adding weight to fat.

Hormonal balance is much more certain with unprocessed foods

In general, hormonal balance is responsible for a lot of events in a body and will directly affect athletic performance in many different ways. For one thing, appetite-suppressing and metabolism-regulating hormones leptin and ghrelin get out of balance when you eat too many fatty foods and sugars. No athlete benefits from excess weight and slow metabolism. Too much weight can get you to run slower, jump not as high and not perform to the maximum of your capacities.

Furthermore, hormonal imbalance affects a person's mood, energy levels, digestion, and pretty much the functioning of each organ. For athletes, as for any other person, it is of utmost importance to keep the hormones in balance, and incorporating unprocessed foods can help tremendously.

Two people working out with battle ropes for which you need lots of energy, and incorporating unprocessed foods into an athlete’s diet can ensure the proper amounts of it.

An athlete's energy is crucial for achieving better performance, and unprocessed food can help tremendously

A person is less prone to colds and migraines

Food that has not been processed is packed with vitamins, minerals, and probiotics, all very important for fighting colds and infections. Eating healthy food reduces the frequency and intensity of migraines as well. The importance of minerals and vitamins for proper immune system functioning is a constant topic in medical circles. A non-athlete might not think avoiding colds is that important, but it makes a big difference for an athlete. Staying out of practice or missing games because of a cold or migraine can ruin a person's career. After each break, the body needs time to bounce back, which translates into more days of performing below full capacity.

Bottom line

Incorporating unprocessed foods into an athlete's diet has many benefits. It can make a big difference. Your food choices directly influence your performance by determining your energy levels and overall health. For that reason, every big sports club has a nutritionist in its team of experts whose only job is to take care of what the players are eating and educate them about the detrimental effects of too much processed and unhealthy food. You can use this information even if you are not a professional athlete but like to work out to the maximum of your abilities. Eating clean foods can benefit you and your body in multiple ways, that is certain. And let's face it – we only have this one body. It's only proper to take care of it the best way possible.