9 Foods Athletes Should Never Eat Slideshow

Energy Drinks


These contain caffeine and other stimulant additives. The stress they put on the heart can be dangerous to anyone, but in particular an athlete who is putting their heart under stress during an athletic event. — Kelly Aronica

Partially-Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil

Flickr/Male Gringo

These primarily man-made oils have been shown to raise risk of heart disease. They're found in many commercially baked goods, fried foods, and some margarines. Look for it in the ingredient list. — Kelly Aronica

Artificial Sweeteners

Flickr/Steve Isaacs

Eating artificial sweeteners may actually increase sugar cravings. Skip the diet soda, "lite" cookies, and sugar-free snacks. — Kelly Aronica

High-Fructose Corn Syrup


This super-sweet sugar is found in all kinds of surprising places. Generally, foods that contain it are overly sweet and overly processed, leading to foods that have few nutrients and fiber. — Kelly Aronica

Refined White Flour


Athletes have increased needs for vitamins and minerals. So they should avoid refined white flour and maximize their intake of those vitamins and minerals by eating whole grains wherever possible. — Kelly Aronica

High-Salt Foods


Salt intake causes fluid imbalances in the body and athletes need to pay more attention to their hydration level than a non-athlete. Our greatest intake of sodium comes from packaged/frozen foods and restaurants. Read labels to see how much sodium is in the food you're eating (your goal is around 2,400 mg per day). Some frozen entrées have half that much, and some restaurant entrées can have a whole day's supply. — Kelly Aronica

Bacon Double-Cheeseburgers


An occasional burger with toppings is fine, but it should be done only on special occasions. The meat, bacon, and cheese all contain lots of saturated fat. And most burgers come with a side of fries, which adds more unhealthy fat to the meal. — Kelly Aronica

Over-Consuming Alcohol

Flickr/Christopher Bersbac

Alcohol has a depressant effect on the body and is a powerful diuretic, meaning it leaves you very dehydrated. Both of these things will have an effect on athletic performance. An athlete in serious training or in preparation for a big event should drink alcohol in moderation or avoid it until after the big event. — Kelly Aronica

Overeating Calories


Not a food, but a large meal will make the body sluggish and sleepy, and will inhibit performance while the meal is being digested. Keep meals light during the four to six hours before any competition. — Kelly Aronica