The Summer Olympics have officially started in Tokyo, Japan. As we marvel at the feats of these amazing athletes’ strength, speed, and agility, many wonder what foods and supplements they take to perform at such high levels. In this article, we list the top 10 nutrients consumed by Olympic athletes.
This article has been medically reviewed by Dr. Charles Penick, MD
Top Nutrients For Athletes
Staying hydrated is key to maintaining athletic performance. Drinking water helps the body replenish the fluids lost from sweating. However, dehydration during exercise could cause the following issues:
- Decreased skin blood flow
- Increased rate of glycogen
- Reduced sweat rate
- Decreased heart dissipation
- Increased core temperature<
Studies on athletic performance note proper hydration during and after training and competition is critical. Water consumption has been found to “help reduce fluid loss, maintain performance, lower submaximal exercise heart rate, maintain plasma volume, and reduce heat stress, heat exhaustion, and possibly heat stroke.”  In addition to water, endurance athletes often consume beverages that contain carbohydrates and electrolytes both during and after training or competition.
Zinc is a vital component in over 300 enzymes, with many of them involved in muscle development and energy production. In addition, zinc benefits athletes in the following ways:
- Boosts immune function. A healthy immune system can help increase recovery times from strenuous workouts or competitions.
- Increases lean muscle mass and improve strength. In addition, zinc may play a role in increasing testosterone, growth hormone (GH), and insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1).
- Contains powerful antioxidants. Zinc contains antioxidants that help remove harmful free radicals in the body caused by strenuous exercise.
Top sources of zinc include meat, oysters, legumes, nuts, and seeds.
Iron plays a key role in athletic performance because it supplies oxygen to various parts of the body. Iron is especially important for endurance athletes because it aids in oxygen transport, acid-base balance, and energy metabolism. Foods high in iron include; dark leafy greens, beef, shellfish, beans, lentils, mushrooms, and dark chocolate.
Protein repairs and strengthens the muscle tissue lost during strenuous exercise. Studies on protein supplements indicate they may increase muscle mass and performance when the training stimulus is adequate (e.g., frequency, volume, and duration).  Top protein rich foods include beans, lentils, nuts, eggs, cheese, meat, and fish.
Calcium and vitamin D go hand in hand. Also known as the sunshine vitamin, vitamin D promotes calcium absorption, which is essential for healthy skeletal development. Studies indicate vitamin D supplements can increase muscle strength, reduce injury rates, and improve sports performance.  In addition to getting vitamin D from direct sunlight, food sources of vitamin D include; cod liver oil, fish, and mushrooms.
Potassium and sodium both help to balance electrolytes and fluids in the body. Potassium is critical for athletes because it works to regulate the nerves and muscles. Potassium also plays a role in the storage of carbs to fuel muscles. In athletes, low potassium levels may be linked to muscle cramps, muscle weakness and fatigue. Potassium can be found in many fruits and veggies, including potatoes, cooked broccoli, peas, cooked spinach, leafy greens, bananas, oranges, grapefruit and dried fruits.
Carbohydrates provide energy to the muscles. They often get a bad wrap because many junk and processed foods are “empty” carbs with little nutritional value. Low carbohydrate levels can have a direct impact on performance during high-intensity exercises. In 2018, a panel of experts endorsed the concept of consuming “a majority of daily calories in the form of high-quality, high-carbohydrate whole food sources, such as potatoes, as a means of improving physical performance and recovery from exercise.” 
8. Vitamin B Complex
B complex vitamins are key for peak athletic performance. The family of B vitamins includes the following:
- B1 (thiamine)
- B2 (riboflavin)
- B3 (niacin)
- B5 (pantothenic acid)
- B6 (pyridoxine)
- B7 (biotin)
- B9 (folate)
B vitamins help turn food into fuel. They also help produce red blood cells, which carry oxygen to all the tissues and cells in the body. B vitamin deficiencies are believed to reduce muscle recovery rates in athletes. Top foods in B complex vitamins include meat, eggs, liver, leafy veggies, and nuts.
Excess sodium in the diet (often found in processed and fast foods) is associated with health conditions such as strokes and high blood pressure. However, sodium is a component of electrolytes and is crucial for athletic performance. A lack of sodium can lead to headaches, lethargy, and fatigue. In addition, athletes lose electrolytes when sweating during exercise. How much lost can vary from person to person, but electrolytes can be replaced to maintain exercise intensity.
Calcium is essential for athletes because it helps to strengthen bones and balance hormone levels. Maintaining adequate calcium levels can keep bones healthy and decrease their risk of short-term bony injuries and longer-term injuries such as osteopenia and osteoporosis. In addition to dairy products, top calcium-rich foods include baby carrots, seeds, sweet potatoes, broccoli, and green beans.
Top Supplements For Athletes
In addition to getting nutrients from foods, many athletes consume all-natural supplements as well. Here are some of the top supplements for athletes:
Systemic Formulas: #150 - Pro - Nutro Protein contains many of the peptide chains and essential amino acids that are lacking in the average person’s diet. By enhancing and completing the body’s protein structure, it is able to assimilate up to triple the protein without consuming additional fats or carbs.
True Cellular Detox: Cellular Vitality #942 has two important functions in the body:
- Incorporate herbal extracted vitamins and cofactors
- Support glutathione antioxidant activity
Glutathione is one of the most popular supplements for athletes because of the following benefits:
- Helps to relieve joint and muscle pain
- Regulate inflammation
- Improve stamina
- Improve cardiovascular function
- Decrease muscle fatigue
- Promote muscle protein synthesis and growth
- Repair injuries
- Increase energy
Systemic Formulas: #616 - Collagen MB contains medium chain fatty acids. It other ingredients include cellular energy building blocks and muscle and connective tissue collagen peptides that contain branched chain amino acids. Athletes like collagen supplements because it helps promote flexibility and lean muscle mass.
Systemic Formulas: #616 - Collagen MB also contains creatine, HMB (-Hydroxy -Methylbutyrate), and Nicotinamide Mononucleotide (NMN). This powerful combination of ingredients provides sustained cellular energy and balanced muscle and tissue support. Each of these are vital for peak athletic performance.
Systemic Formulas: #810 - Enrg - Quantum Cellular Atp Energy has many benefits for athletes, including the following:
- Increased energy levels
- Decreased fatigue
- Support thyroid imbalance
- Improved cellular healing
This product contains key nutrients that athletes need, such as B vitamins, ginger, magnesium, potassium, Resveratrol, amino acids, and many others.
Systemic Formulas: #820 - Epic - Metabolic No/Onoo Micro Antioxidant is a powerful antioxidant. It enhances a cell’s ability to generate glutathione, which helps the body respond to oxidative stress. It also contains bioflavonoids, compounds that fend off free radicals. B vitamins, vitamin E, vitamin C, zinc chelate, omega 3, amino acids, and other key nutrients are in this all-natural supplement.
The Olympics highlights the fittest athletes in the world. To perform at elite levels, they consume nutrient-dense foods and all-natural supplements. While the average person won’t make it to the Olympics, they can still reap many health benefits by exercising diligently and eating healthy foods like their favorite Olympians.
Medical Disclaimer: This article is based upon the opinions of Revelation Health. The information on this website is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical advice. It is intended as a sharing of knowledge and information from the research and experience of Revelation Health and associates. This article has been medically reviewed by Dr. Charles Penick, MD for accuracy of the information provided, but Revelation Health encourages you to make your own health care decisions based upon your research and in partnership with a qualified health care professional.
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