Summary

  • Good nutrition is important for sports people.
  • Carbohydrates play an important part of a sports diet.
  • Eating protein helps to build muscle strength and size.
  • It is important to drink plenty of water before, during and after exercise.
Good nutrition is important for sports people. Carbohydrate is the most important nutrient for athletes. Athletes should also eat protein and drink plenty of water when exercising.

Good nutrition is important for sports people

If you do lots of sport or exercise, good nutrition can help you to:
  • get the best results from training
  • perform well in matches or events
  • recover properly
  • avoid dehydration
  • stay healthy and get sick less often.

Carbohydrate is important for sports people

Carbohydrate is the most important nutrient for athletes because it is the main fuel our muscles use when we exercise. If you don’t eat enough carbohydrates, you can run out of energy and won’t perform well. Eat a high carbohydrate meal before and after playing sport.

Good carbohydrate choices include:


Bread - especially wholemeal and multigrain breads

Breakfast cereals or porridge


Dry biscuits or rice cakes
Fruit - especially bananas


Potato, sweet potato and corn

Rice and pasta, baked beans or lentils

Drinking water while exercising

When we exercise, our bodies lose a lot of water through sweat, so:
  • It is important to replace this water to avoid dehydration.
  • It is important to drink plenty of water before, during and after exercise.
  • Try weighing yourself before and after exercise. You need to drink about one litre of fluids for every kilogram you lose. Water is best.
  • Sports drinks are useful if you are exercising for longer than 60 minutes.
  • Alcohol is not recommended after sport, as it dehydrates you even more and stops your muscles from recovering properly.

Protein is part of a good sports diet

Athletes who are trying to build up their muscle strength and size need to eat protein, but there is no need to eat huge amounts of protein or to buy expensive protein powders.

You can get your protein from:


Meat - leaner meat such as kangaroo has more protein
Eggs


Fish – including canned tuna, salmon or sardines
Milk and yoghurt – low-fat milk has more protein


Chicken and turkey

Baked beans or lentils
Eating some protein and carbohydrate together straight after training will help your muscles recover and grow stronger.

Where to get help

  • Your doctor
  • Victorian Aboriginal Health Services Tel. (03) 9419 3000 or 132 660 (after hours)
  • Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation Tel. (03) 9411 9411
  • Dieticians Association of Australia Tel. 1800 812 942

Things to remember

  • Good nutrition is important for sports people.
  • Carbohydrates play an important part of a sports diet.
  • Eating protein helps to build muscle strength and size.
  • It is important to drink plenty of water before, during and after exercise.
Source: this fact sheet is based on the original Tucker talk tips – fuelling your sport, 2010 produced by the Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation and Department of Health Victoria.

More information

Keeping active

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Getting started

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Keeping active throughout life

Health conditions and exercise

Content Partner

This page has been produced in consultation with and approved by: Department of Health and Human Services - Aboriginal health

Last updated: November 2011

Page content currently being reviewed.

Content on this website is provided for education and information purposes only. Information about a therapy, service, product or treatment does not imply endorsement and is not intended to replace advice from your doctor or other registered health professional. Content has been prepared for Victorian residents and wider Australian audiences, and was accurate at the time of publication. Readers should note that, over time, currency and completeness of the information may change. All users are urged to always seek advice from a registered health care professional for diagnosis and answers to their medical questions.