8 Common Nutrition Mistakes...and How to Fix Them

Nutrition may be your missing link in training. Here are eight common nutrition mistakes many athletes make with tips and recipes for how to solve them.

No. 1: Beneficial Protein Intake

Some athletes eat too little protein; others eat too much. For example, a 150 lb (68 kg) athlete may need 0.5 to 0.75 g pro/lb (1-1.5 g pro/kg); this translates into about 75 to 105 g pro/day. This athlete can easily consume too much protein if the foundation of the menu is:

Breakfast:  6 egg whites   18 grams of protein
Lunch:  1 can of tuna
 35 grams
Snack:  1 protein bar
 20 grams
Dinner:  2 chicken breasts
 90 grams

16 oz. milk

 16 grams 


 179 grams

This amount of protein is excessive, to the point some of the protein could be wisely traded for more carbs to better fuel the workouts.

In contrast, a vegetarian athlete on a reducing diet could easily underconsume protein if foundation of the menu is:

Breakfast:   2 egg whites   7 grams of protein
Lunch:   salad with 1/4 cup of chickpeas
 3 grams


  1 garden burger 

11 grams 

Total:   21 grams

Too little protein contributes to poor recovery, muscle wasting, and suboptimal results from hard training.

Solution: By meeting with a sports dietitian, you can learn your protein requirement and how to translate that into food.

No. 2: Iron to Prevent Fatigue From Anemia

Iron-deficiency anemia is common, particularly in females. Anemia causes needless fatigue and reduced performance. A survey of collegiate athletes indicates 20 percent of the female volleyball and basketball players were anemic, as were 50 percent of the soccer team. (1)

Anemia is particularly common among women who have heavy menstrual blood losses, but eat neither red meat nor iron-enriched breakfast cereal.

Solution: If you feel needlessly tired, get your blood tested by your doctor and be sure to get your serum ferritin measured. To help prevent anemia, strive to eat an iron-rich diet of:

  • red meat, or iron-rich alternatives (dark-meat chicken or turkey, salmon, tuna)
  • iron-fortified cereals (Wheaties, Raisin Bran, Total)

To enhance iron absorption, include with each meal a source of vitamin C, such as orange juice, berries, broccoli, tomato or other fruits and vegetables.

No. 3: Post-exercise Food

At the end of a hard workout, you haven't finished your training until you have refueled. Don't rush off to work or school, with "no time to eat" as the excuse.

Solution: Plan ahead, so you have recovery foods readily available. Even in a time-crunch, you should be able refuel your muscles properly. "No time" is no excuse.

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