Top 5 Sports Diet Myths & Mistakes Revealed!

A well-planned diet could enhance your sporting performance and even reduce the risk of injuries. But beware of some sports diet myths and mistakes.


With over 6 millions views on Tiktok for #athletediet, we are eager to seek nutrition advice to support our fitness goals, but sometimes it can be hard to tell facts from the myths.

With this in mind, Live Rugby tickets collaborated with nutritionists to debunk the top misconceptions of sports diets, revealing the truths that can actually boost your performance and reduce your injury risks!

A well-planned diet can enhance your sporting performance and even reduce the risk of injuries. But you should be wary of sports diet myths and misconceptions.


Biggest Sports Diet Misconceptions


Myth #1: Eating after dinner will make you gain weight 


For those of us who snack after 6pm, there is no need to feel guilty! There is actually no right or wrong time to eat but instead, it depends on your workout and sleep schedule.

If you prefer going to the gym or your local grassroots football in the evenings, eat a light meal 1-2 hours before you go and have some post-workout snacks afterwards. 

Eating nutritious food after a workout with protein can help you replace glycogen stores and recover muscles to reduce the risk of overuse injuries. This is particularly important after muscle-building activities.


Myth #2: Carbs will make you fat


Many people believe carbs are the cause of weight gain but that may be the biggest misconception about dieting. Carbs are essential for a sports diet as it not only reduces your risk of injuries, but also plays a crucial role in terms of recovery. 

Research has shown that carbohydrates fuel your body and help with muscle growth by delivering energy, controlling blood glucose, and improving metabolic functions. This is even more vital during a sports injury when we are more vulnerable to lose muscles and in need of glucose and energy.

The recommended carbs during an injury are potatoes and whole grains such as bread and rice. But this does not mean that you should have a high-carb diet.

Caroline Hind, Registered Clinical Nutritionist at Nutrable suggests: 

“Increase carbs around your sessions, but emphasise protein-rich foods with plenty of colourful veg the majority of the time.”


Myth #3: A vegan diet fails to support you


There are an increasing number of athletes who are adopting a vegan diet, from tennis legends such as the Williams sisters, to British racing driver Lewis Hamilton. 

A plant-based sports diet usually contains less fat and more fibre and carbs, which helps improve blood viscosity and increase aerobic capacity. This allows more oxygen to reach your muscle and improves endurance, enhancing athletic performance

During an injury, a vegan diet provides plenty of proteins, without the inflammation effects of meat, which are supportive to muscle tissue rebuilding and recovery. There are plenty of ways to get protein from a plant-based diet. Tofu, soya, wheat and peas are all good protein sources for a vegan athlete diet. 

If you are on a vegan diet, Caroline Hind, Registered Clinical Nutritionist at Nutrable, suggests: 

“Anyone reducing their intake of animal sourced foods should consider how to compensate for these bone-building nutrients. Supplemental protein powders, collagen, mineral and vitamin formulas can help, especially if teamed with a low-sugar, whole-food diet.”


Myth #4: Salts are bad for you


Just as athletes need more protein, salts play a significant role in a sports diet too. You need more sodium if you sweat regularly as it helps maintain body fluid balance and keeps you hydrated.

Losses of sodium after sports could reduce your blood volume and the amount of oxygen it takes, which adds stress to your cardiovascular system, leading to fatigue and a higher risk of injuries. 

Drinking sports drinks with sodium prepares your heart and body for physical activities and helps your body rehydrate. 

Research has shown that by supplementing with sodium, performances for endurance runners were enhanced significantly. 


Myth #5: All you need for recovery is Protein


In response to this, Vanessa Peat, Performance Nutritionist & Co-Founder of UCU (Uniquely Created U) says:  

“In fact, the reality comes down to all of the following ‘R’s.’ 

Rehydrate: Drinking a homemade rehydration drink, post exercise will allow you to replace the fluids and electrolytes lost during sweating. A homemade electrolyte drink is easy to make and inexpensive. 

Refuel: Post exercise is important to restore your glycogen stores, which are your main fuel source, ensuring you are ready for tomorrow's session. This can be done by eating some fruit, pasta or white rice following your session, which will give you a quick release of carbohydrates. 

Rest: It is crucial to ensure that you take time to rest following your exercise session and good sleep quality is vital. 

Repair: Yes, it is important to eat protein following exercise, to provide your muscles with the necessary building blocks - however, we must not forget the other three R's.” 


Commenting on nutritionist expert tips on keeping a healthy sports diet, Caroline Hind concludes by saying: 

“Beware under-fuelling – if your food intake doesn’t meet your energy needs, your sports performance and overall health will suffer. If you’re concerned with weight and body composition, watch your sugar and processed foods.

In a well-formulated sports diet, your meals should be satisfying and contain a protein-rich food, a variety of vegetables and a portion of starchy food no larger than a quarter of your plate”