The 20 Best Superfoods for Athletes

Konstantinos Synodinos
7 min readDec 22, 2017

What makes a champion? There is a simple equation that I can guarantee works every single time.

Physical Health (Nutrition x Conditioning x Strength ) + Mental Health (clear vision x Motivation) = Success in Sports

I guess you already know the importance of Sports Nutrition in your life as Athlete, right?

If you haven’t, then you are missing the opportunity to maximize your potential in terms of performance.

No matter how hard you train, or how much your technical skills evolve, if you don’t get the right fuel, your body will underperform vs your real potential.

We don’t want that, do we?

Also, we have already talked here about the mental tricks you can apply as an athlete, what makes an elite athlete and what are the common traits of champions.

If you are struggling to organize your own nutrition and you are just eating as an Athlete whatever you believe it’s right, make sure you talk with an expert.

Today, I will share with you those 20 Superfoods for athletes that if added to your weekly plan, will help increase your athletic performance but also burn fat, get lean and get in the best shape of your life.

Also, those 20 superfoods for athletes, are going to help hydration, muscle building, recovery and the overall boost of your energy levels.


Coconut oil contains medium-chain triglycerides and your body can actually not just burn sugar for energy but coconut can burn fat for energy and that’s why long distance athletes today are starting to consume more coconut oil.

So start using coconut oil in your cooking and coconut milk for your smoothies.


Chia seeds were known by Aztec warriors and Mayans as the warriors’ food back in the day.

Actually, they were carrying a pouch with them, since they were claiming that one handful of chia seeds was worth a day’s energy.

“Chia” is the ancient Mayan word for “strength.” Despite their ancient history as a dietary staple, only recently did chia seeds become recognized as a modern-day superfood.

Don’t be fooled by the size… these tiny seeds pack a powerful nutritional punch.

Add one tablespoon of chia seeds to a morning smoothie or you can do some chia with some honey and kind or eat it as a snack between workouts.


If you can’t get enough protein from proper food, make sure you use Whey or Collagen protein.

Protein is so important for building muscle and burning fat and it’s vital for your recovery. It’s probably the most common among those which are characterized as superfoods for Athletes.

However, surprisingly most of athletes don’t get enough protein today. That’s either because they don’t understand the importance of it or because they don’t calculate their macros efficiently.

Adding quality, natural, organic type of whey protein is always a good solution if you are struggling with your meal prep, or you don’t feel like eating a meal.

Don’t go for a whey protein with those artificial sweeteners in it. Choose a good natural protein powder. It’s the same as getting plenty of good quality of protein from foods like grass-fed beef, organic chicken, and turkey.


Blueberries, strawberries, raspberries.

Getting more berries in your diet is crucial. They contain the highest levels of antioxidants and they absolutely help with cellular regeneration, healing muscular tissue and recovery after exercise.

They also Improve Blood Sugar and Insulin response consumed with high-carb foods or when included in smoothies.

Choose berries with the most intense colors — blackberries, raspberries, blueberries — because they have more of those phytochemicals and protective substances. Toss them into a smoothie, add them to your morning cereal, or just eat them by the handful. Aim to eat berries (and other fruits) from across the color spectrum.


Coconut Water is packed with potassium and electrolytes. It’s considered to be nature’s Gatorade!

So if you want to recover faster, if you want to increase athletic performance, add in some coconut water, by drinking more during your sports week.

Professional tennis player John Isner has quoted in the past, that coconut water helped him majorly to stay on his feet during his monumental 11-hour marathon Wimbledon tennis win. “It is super hydrating and has kept me going in long matches and prevented me from cramping even in the hottest and most humid conditions,”

Hydration is vital for everyone, but especially for active individuals with a high sweat rate. Of course natural water is still the primary recommendation for fluid intake; however, athletes working at extremely high-intensity levels can benefit from additional hydration sources, including coconut water.

Key difference vs water is that Coconut Water includes vitamins C and B vitamins. Vitamin C boosts your immune system; folate (B9) helps your body create new cells, and vitamin B6 helps build muscle by producing amino acids.


Carbohydrates are an excellent food source for athletes, especially for those exercising past the 90-minute mark.

And that’s where oatmeal comes in handy.

It’s a slow digesting carb that keeps fueling your energy levels for a long period.

If you’re an athlete, you need complex carbohydrates and protein from foods like oats in your diet from specific sources to provide you with energy without causing a blood sugar crash and to repair and refuel your muscles. While some other grains, such as brown rice, are healthy and contain beneficial nutrients, their overall nutritional profile doesn’t compare to that of oats.

Keep in mind, you want to choose plain, rolled oats (not prepackaged or instant), or you can go for steel-cut as an even healthier, whole option. If you’ve skipped out on oats until now, give this healthy grain a bit more attention in your diet from now on.


They’re cheap, they’re tasty, and each one is a total nutritional powerhouse. A single extra-large egg — which is what you’ll find most often at the grocery store — packs seven grams of complete protein, meaning it contains all of the eight essential amino acids required to build and maintain muscle.

Eggs are a staple of many athletes’ diets and for good reason. They also easily portable, making them a great go-to snack after a workout.

Hard boil in bulk for the week and you’ll have a healthy, portable snack fit for any tough workout.


Bananas are a no-brainer on any athlete’s weekly plan.

They are tasty, an awesome addition to smoothies, portable and can even cover your sweet needs within the day, without processed sugar involved.

They’re loaded with potassium (blood sugar maintenance, helps heart function and protects against high blood pressure) and they give you a quick burst of energy thanks to the 30 grams of carbohydrates (more or less) they contain.

Bananas can help athletes boost their performance when consumed before, during and after workouts and competitions.

Did you also know that eating half a banana every 15 minutes during exercise is as effective as sipping a comparable amount of sports drink in terms of sustaining exercise performance?

It’s true. So go and buy a few!


They are rich in slow digesting carbohydrates, which will provide a steady energy state over a long period of time.

Yeah, rice and whole grain pasta can also be great in terms of your carbs intake during the day, but unlike them, sweet potatoes come with a handful of vitamins.

The bright orange color displays its rich beta-carotene content, and sweet potatoes supply the body with fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C and even Vitamin B.

You’ll also find a bit of protein (4 g per cup) and fiber (7 g per cup) — both of which are essential for anyone attempting endurance-type sports.


Exactly like Chia Seeds, quinoa has a long history.

The Incas called it the “mother grain,” and they grew it for its edible seeds, which provided warriors with stamina and quick recovery.

Quinoa provides great nutrients for muscle recovery, minerals, fibers, antioxidants, enzymes, amino acids as well as protein.

As you understand, there are not many foods in nature that are as complete in terms of nutrients as Quinoa is.

It’s easy to eat and you can incorporate it into your oatmeal or cereal, cook it and put it in your salad and you are going to love it if you area vegan.