If there’s one food many sports enthusiasts try to avoid, it’s likely junk food. According to a study done by Kent State University researchers, it’s not so much for the nutritional value, but more the guilt associated with eating these foods. In fact, the study shows that one’s knowledge of the unhealthiness of fast food is not enough to stop people from eating their favorite burgers, pizza, or fries. Rather, it’s the guilt about fast food consumption that urges one to stop eating their favorite meals. But what if junk foods can actually be beneficial for your sports performance?
Junk Food Consumption for Sports Enthusiasts
Let’s be clear, junk foods are unhealthy when consumed on a regular basis. However, Lars Nybo of the University of Copenhagen shares that athletes and fitness enthusiasts might benefit from eating junk food, depending on their discipline. Nybo points out that athletes must combine the right diet with their training, which is why some athletes need to load up on carbs during the final 48 hours before an event, while sprinters or shot putters can get away with eating junk food for breakfast.
In addition, Peeyush Maheshwari of Food 4 Thought highlights how beer can actually be a nutritious beverage if it doesn’t have any alcohol in it. The high antioxidant content in its malt extract contains anti-inflammatory properties that can support athletic recovery. As such, there are plenty of alcohol-free beers that are now being used as sports drinks by athletes, such as the sweet Alkoholfrei or the rich Hellraiser Dark Amber.
How to Balance Your Favorite Food
There are plenty of healthy alternatives to junk food out there, making it easier for sports enthusiasts to enjoy treats without worrying about calories and other nutrients. For instance, athletes who love potato chips can opt to indulge in kale, cauliflower, or cassava chips instead. Meanwhile, those who love ice cream can swap it for Greek yogurt popsicles which are high in protein. You can even make these healthy alternatives at home, so you can enjoy these delicious and nutritious foods and drinks whenever you want.
Everything in Moderation
No one is perfect, and there’s a time and place to indulge. Modern diets promote moderation through diet tracking as the key to staying motivated. WeightWatchers’ weight loss programs represent how a balanced diet plan can include your favorite foods, as long as you portion them accordingly. Today it is very easy to track your food intake using an app. This allows you to know exactly what you are consuming and helps you choose the right time to indulge without affecting your performance. By tracking your meals, you can enjoy your guilty pleasures without compromising your health and performance goals.
Know when and when not to eat junk food
Aside from tracking your nutrient intake, you can also make the most out of your guilty pleasures by knowing the right time to eat them. Nutrition coach Riley Nadoroznick explains that consuming a large serving of carbohydrates and protein post-exercise can replenish your glycogen stores and repair your muscles. Famous bodybuilders like Arnold Schwarzenegger and Franco Columbu were known to eat a high-calorie pizza after a workout without it having a negative effect on their performance. Nadoroznick states that a low-fat and high-protein pizza can be a good post-workout meal on occasion, especially if you want to speed up your muscle recovery.
Junk food can provide benefits for your sports performance, especially if you have enough discipline and knowledge regarding nutrition. By knowing how and when to eat these foods, you can use them to optimize your own performance.
For more on nutrition and performance, make sure to read more at STYLE of SPORT.