This list includes common eating philosophies and the benefits that they provide for athletic performance.  Click on each title to learn more.
Overview: Clean eating meal plan includes all-natural ingredients and whole foods.  This particular eating philosophy encourages consumption of fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains and healthy fats with limited pre-packaged foods such as chips, crackers, candy, bread, and other foods that contain preservatives and artificial flavorings. This style of eating  typically only focuses on removing processed foods and doesn’t address specific nutritional needs or food sensitivities. No calorie counting is needed and this plan includes the most variety or foods in comparison to other whole-food based plans. Benefit to Athletes:  Since this eating philosophy is based on clean foods, the body will be able to effectively utilize all of the nutrients in the food that is consumed. This eating philosophy is a great nutritional reset for any athlete that consumes a large quantity of processed, packaged or convenience foods. Macronutrient Ratio: None Recommended Reading: 

Clean eating made simple book cover Amazon Clean Eating Made Simple, $6.99 (Kindle)

Overview: The term “detox” refers to any program that focuses on removing toxins by supporting the body’s natural detoxification mechanisms.

This eating philosophy is meant to serve as a temporary reset for the body in order to eliminate toxins that may have accumulated in cells and tissues.  These toxins may include synthetic chemicals, heavy metals and environmental pollutants.  Also called an elimination diet, this eating philosophy removes foods that do not support the body’s natural detoxification mechanisms and includes foods that allow the body to clean and heal.  A detox protocol can often improve overall health, energy levels, address sugar addictions, reduce food cravings and promote weight loss.

This detox eliminates alcohol, animal products, and processed foods and reduces consumption of caffeine, sugar and salt.

This plan focuses on healing  so includes foods that are anti-oxidant-rich, alkaline,  and high in fiber.

Benefits to Athletes:   This style of eating is not sustainable in the long-run but a 14 -30 day detox can provide many health benefits such as: improved brain function, more energy, less inflammation, weight loss, and a boosted immune system.  Those that are experiencing symptoms of a toxic body should consider a whole body detox.

Macronutrient ratio: None

Recommended Reading:

Medical Medium Cleanse to Heal, $16.99 (Hardcover)

Overview: A large body of scientific research has found a connection between gut issues and many common ailments that show up in other areas of the body such as chronic inflammation, brain fog, obesity, fatigue, depression and anxiety.  Gut health is determined not only by the function of the small intestine to absorb nutrients and deliver them to the bloodstream but also on the type of organisms that live in the human gut.  

A gut health nutrition plan is one that focuses on eliminating foods that disrupt the digestive tract and include foods that support healthy bacterial growth and promote healing of the intestinal walls.   

Benefit to Athletes: The human gut is the connection between the nutrients that we eat and the ability of every single cell in the body to to utilize them effectively. A healthy gut can provide many benefits to the rest of the body such as improved digestion, better quality of sleep, shorter recovery time,  mental clarity, reduced inflammation and more energy. 

Recommended Reading:

Happy Gut, $14.59 (paperback)

Overview: A dairy-free nutrition plan is one that eliminates milk products such as cheese, milk, cream, and whey.

Benefit to Athletes: This eating philosophy is great for athletes that are lactose-intolerant or lactose-sensitive, want to reduce their dairy intake or are experiencing systemic inflammation due to consuming dairy products.

Recommended Reading:


Eat Dairy Free, $9.99 (Kindle)

Overview: Co-founded by Melissa Urban and Dallas Hartwig, the Whole30 program is a nutrition protocol that not only eliminates foods that cause inflammation in the body, but also focuses on establishing a healthier relationship with food.  

Benefit to Athletes:  The Whole30 program is a 30-day program which eliminates foods that contain added sugar, dairy, beans, and grains. Essentially it’s a more restrictive diet than paleo because it also focuses on removing foods that we may have a negative emotional connection to. 

Benefit to Athletes: The Whole30 has yielded much success to those experiencing a variety of symptoms that hinder athletic performance.  These symptoms may include: joint pain, digestive issues, chronic fatigue, headaches, ADHD, asthma, difficulty losing weight and depression.    

Recommended Reading:

 
It Starts With Food, $16.59 (hardcover)

Overview: Gluten is a protein found in many grains that often wreaks havoc on the digestive system and causes inflammation throughout the body.  A gluten-free diet is one that eliminates gluten-containing foods such as pizza, baked goods, breads, pasta, and crackers.  This diet also helps to manage symptoms of gluten intolerance which include bloating, constipation and diarrhea.

Benefit to Athletes: This diet can benefit any athlete experiencing symptoms of a gluten intolerance by improving their digestion.  Since gluten affects individuals differently, it can also help athletes that aren’t experiencing the traditional gluten-intolerance symptoms by reducing inflammation, improving brain function and increasing energy levels.

Macronutrient Ratio: None

Recommended Reading:

Grain Brain: The surprising truth about wheat, carbs and sugar, $14.49 (hardcover)

Overview:  The ketogenic diet is a style of eating that is low-carb and high-fat.  This style of eating causes the body to shift from using carbohydrates for energy to using fats for energy – a process called ketosis.  When the body is in ketosis, the body is extremely efficient at using fat for energy.  And since consuming more fat equals more fuel, calorie counting is not required to reap the benefits of energy and fat loss.  

Benefits to Athletes: Since the ketogenic diet causes the body to rely on fats for energy, and because fats provide more energy to the body than carbohydrates the main benefit of the keto diet is more energy.  Other benefits include: rapid (and healthy) body fat loss, better sleep and shorter recovery times, mental clarity, and more stable blood sugar levels.  

Macronutrient ratio: 10% carbohydrates, 30% proteins, 60% fats 

Recommended Reading: 

Overview: A low-carb diet is similar to a ketogenic diet but carbohydrate intake is not low enough for the body to enter ketosis and therefore the body still uses carbohydrates for energy.  This particular eating philosophy causes the body to tap into energy stores in the body for fuel (i.e. muscle glycogen) and can be very effective for losing body fat.

Benefit to Athletes:  This eating philosophy can be used to boost metabolism in order to shed a few extra pounds.  It can also be beneficial in your off-season to maintain a lean body composition when you’re not as active.

Macronutrient Ratio: 20% carbohydrates, 40% proteins, and 40% fats

Recommended Reading:


 The Art and Science of Low-Carbohydrate Living, $14.95 (paperback)

Overview:  A vegan diet is purely plant-based and eliminates all animal products including meat, eggs, dairy and honey.  A vegetarian diet is a less restrictive plant-based diet where only meat is avoided.  

Vegan and vegetarian diets can be incredibly healthy as long as individuals are consuming enough protein and avoiding processed foods. Both types of meal plans would includes a variety of fruits, vegetables, grains, beans and high-quality proteins.

Benefit to Athletes:  The vegan diet is nature-based so the body is fueled with only nutrient-rich foods. If the vegan diet is implemented appropriately, it can lead to enhanced physical and mental performance

Macronutrient Ratio: None

Recommended Reading:

Plant-based on a Budget, $12.99 (Kindle)

Overview:  A carbohydrate cycling diet is one that alternates between high-carb and low-carb days depending on activity levels.  On rest days, you would decrease the amount of carbohydrates you consume since you don’t need as much fuel that day.  On training or competition days, you’d increase the amount of carbs you consume to account for the increased energy demand.

Benefit to Athletes:  This nutrition philosophy is often used by figure competitors to get their body ready for a show.  It can be very effective for weight loss but requires some discipline and planning.  Aside from getting the body ready for the stage, this eating philosophy can be beneficial to all athletes if done correctly. As long as athletes are consuming enough calories each day and sticking to a consistent low-carb-high-carb cycle, this eating philosophy can be very effective at optimizing metabolism, reduce recovery time, and increase energy levels when you need it the most.

Macronutrient Ratio: On low-carb days – 15% carbohydrates, 50% proteins, 35% fats; On high carb days – 35% carbohydrates, 50% proteins, 15% fats

Recommended Reading:

Carb Cycling: The Science and Practice of Mastering Your Metabolism, $15.99 (paperback)

Overview:  The flexitarian diet, also called the “semi-vegetarian” is primarily vegetarian but occasionally adds meat and fish.  A pescatarian diet is a type of flexitarian diet which includes fish but not meat. 

Benefits to Athletes: This diet is primarily plant-based so it provides the body with many important nutrients that it needs to perform at it’s best but also provides essential animal protein for muscle growth and recovery.

Macronutrient ratio: None

Recommended Reading:


The Flexitarian Diet, $17.23 (paperback)

Overview: The basic premise of the paleo diet is to consume foods that the human body has evolved to consume.  This diet eliminates foods that have been cultivated by humans such as refined sugar, beans, dairy and grains and instead relied on meats, fruits and vegetables for nutrition.  Research strongly suggests that these foods that have been cultivated during the Agricultural Revolution, have also been connected to inflammation throughout the body.  Many people with inflammatory and auto-immune conditions who turn to a paleo diet find their symptoms significantly reduced or erased completely.

Benefits to Athletes:  The paleo diet provides many benefits to athletes because it ensures that athletes are consuming high-quality protein, micronutrients, and complex carbohydrates – all of which support healthy muscles and promote athletic performance.

Macronutrient ratio: None

Recommended Reading:

Paleo Diet for Athletes: The Ancient Nutritional Formula for Peak Athletic Performance, $12.29 (paperback)
 

Overview: The Autoimmune Protocol (or AIP), aims to cut out foods that trigger inflammation throughout the body.  The foods that are consumed help to flood the body with anti-inflammatory nutrients and flood the body with nutrients.  This diet is particularly useful for those who are experiencing symptoms of autoimmune diseases such as lupus, inflammatory bowel disease, and rheumatoid arthritis.

Benefits to Athletes: This protocol is especially beneficial to those athletes who have an auto-immune disease or are experiencing similar symptoms of an auto-immune disease such as joint pain and severe digestive discomfort.

Macronutrient Ratio: None

Recommended Reading:

The Wahls Protocol, $16.39 (paperback)

Overview: The Mediterranean diet is considered to be the “healthiest diet on the planet”.  It is made up of mostly plant-based foods such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, grains and beans, and a moderate animal-based foods especially seafood.  This diet is rich in heart-healthy fats from olives and fish.

Benefit to Athletes:  The Mediterranean diet is known for it’s health benefits so this diet would be beneficial to any athlete that may be concerned about their heart health.

Macronutrient ratio: None

Recommended Reading:

The Mediterranean Method, $18.99 (hardcover)

Overview:  The Gut and Psychology Syndrome (GAPS) diet focuses on eliminating foods that have been connected through the gut to brain disorders such as dyslexia and autism, and mental health disorders such as ADHD, anxiety and depression.  Foods that have been linked to brain and mental health disorders include sugar and grains and therefore are eliminated in the GAPS diet.  The gaps diet also focuses on foods that support gut health.   There are 3 stages to this diet including an introductory diet, a full GAPS stage and a reintroduction stage.

Benefits to Athletes:  A GAPS diet can help athletes that may want some help managing their psychological and behavioral conditions that may be hindering their ability to improve in their sport.  Since the GAPS diet focuses on fully healing the gut in order to alleviate in brain or mental health disorders, it could take up to 2 years on the diet to see improvements.

Macronutrient ratio: None.

Recommended Reading:
Gut and Psychology Syndrome: Natural Treatment for Autism, Dyspraxia, A.D.D., Dyslexia, A.D.H.D., Depression, Schizophrenia, $23.88 (paperback)