What’s the Mediterranean diet and is it good for athletes?

Study shows vast performance gains in athletes eating a Mediterranean diet

Credit: The Secret Studio

The Mediterranean diet has been linked to better and longer-lasting health – hardly surprising when it’s characterised by fruits and vegetables, nuts, olive oil and wholegrains. It’s also largely devoid of red and processed meats; dairy, trans and saturated fats; and refined sugars.


So, a higher standard of living but not one necessarily associated with improved triathlon performance. Until now. Researchers at Saint Louis University, USA, discovered that eating a Mediterranean diet improved athletes’ performance after four days.

On average, the 11 active men and women improved their 5km run time by 6% than when on a Western diet – low in fruit and veg, high in refined foods – despite similar heart rates and ratings of perceived exertion. The researchers noted potential causes: the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effect of such a diet; a more alkaline ‘milieu’ is more favourable to endurance than an acidic base; and the positive endurance impact of nitrates

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