Can ordinary people look to the diets of professional and award-winning athletes for advice on how to structure their own eating habits? Probably not given the caloric needs for an athlete who is in heavy training. What is interesting about the diets of athletes is that they seem to be as varied as the diets of ordinary people. There is no single way for the athlete to eat on the road to championships just as people can be healthy from various types of food.
Humans are omnivores meaning that they are able to eat, digest and get nutrition from a variety of both plant and animal based foods. In fact, this was likely an advantage in the survival of humans as a species. Generally, animals that are only carnivores or herbivores or animals that can only eat meat or only plants have teeth that are adapted solely for that purpose. Because humans could eat so many different things, they needed a less specialized diet in order to survive.
Still, knowing that we are omnivores only tells us that we are capable of surviving eating many different types of food. That doesn’t tell us what we should eat for optimum health or for the best athletic performance. Furthermore, while ideally athletes should eat a balanced, healthy diet, some may eat a higher proportion of carbohydrates or proteins when they are in training. For example, body builders sometimes eat more protein than the average person needs in order to build those enormous muscles.
Looking at the varied ways in which athletes eat for success suggests to the rest of us that there may be a number of workable approaches to diet as well. Some people swear rigidly by the plan they follow, but it may not be the best plan for another person. The ideal diet plan is one that is easy and pleasant for its user to follow, that provides ample calories and that provides recommended nutritional amounts. If a diet is difficult, a person won’t stick with it, but it is also important to keep the body healthy and maintain a proper weight.