What Foods Should Athletes Avoid for Optimal Performance?

Athletes should be aware of what they eat before and after competition, as certain foods can have a negative effect on their performance. Dairy products and fried foods can make an athlete feel sluggish and cause a lack of focus, so it's best to stay away from them. Instead, athletes should opt for healthy fats such as nuts, seeds, avocados, seafood and olive oil. Traditional sports drinks are also not ideal, as they contain synthetic nutrients, colorants, and other highly processed ingredients.

Energy drinks should be avoided when playing sports, as they can lead to deficiencies and serious damage to organs and the cardiovascular system. Soda is also a no-go, as it has no nutritional value and can harm bones, organs and optimal functioning. White breads and other highly processed foods are also not recommended, as they contain no real nutrients to support the body. Artificial sweeteners should also be avoided, as they offer no health benefits and can increase the risk of health problems and weight gain.

Canned soup may be convenient but is usually no healthier than other highly processed snacks. After exercise, these foods do even more harm because they don't meet the nutritional demands of an active body. Unrefined foods are best for athletes, as more of their nutrients are preserved. Complex starchy foods should be avoided in favor of whole, unprocessed foods such as oatmeal, raisins or peanut butter.