Food fulfills three basic needs: (1) to provide energy; (2) to support new tissue growth and tissue repair; and (3) to help regulate metabolism. These three requirements are met by components of foods called “nutrients”, which consist of six classes: carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins, minerals, and water.
Foods that are “nutrient dense” supply a significant amount of these nutrients for their calories. A high-performance diet emphasizes nutrient-dense carbohydrates necessary to maintain muscle glycogen – the primary fuel for most sports.
Optimal energy metabolism (the process that converts food to energy) requires an abundance of vitamins and minerals. Every cell in our body can unlock its energy potential with the proper fuel from food. If you don’t get enough nutrients from foods, you will suffer from sub-optimal cellular energy metabolism, making you feel tired and sluggish.
The best way to combat this is to choose foods that have a lot of nutrition per calorie. These include vegetables, beans, nuts, seeds, fruits, and lean animal proteins. Refined breads, fried and fatty foods, sweets and desserts, and processed snack foods have lots of calories with little nutrition.
Make breakfast a priority! It’s easy to skip breakfast but it will hurt you in the long run. Studies show that a good breakfast not only gets your metabolism going, but it will help keep you alert and satisfied until lunch. Healthy breakfast eaters have shown to also set the stage for healthy eating all day long.
Here is a great app (Apple and Android) to help you learn more about what you eat.