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[ Supplement Performance ] -[ Nutrition Performance ]

The right mix of foods can keep you healthy, competitive.

Looking to get an edge in your next race, at the gym or on the ski slopes? Pay attention to what you eat, experts say.

According to an article from the Detroit Free Press, athletes should think of food as fuel. Protein, carbs, fats, fiber, vitamins and minerals all play a role. And, of course, don't forget the water -- and lots of it.

Carbohydrates are often overlooked by many athletes, experts say. Another issue for athletes is the release of free radicals, byproducts of fuel-burning that can damage healthy cells in the body. To combat free radicals, you should make sure you're getting plenty of antioxidants, such as vitamins A, C and E. Tomatoes are great for athletes because they are packed with phytochemicals such as lycopene that zap free radicals.

The first step is knowing what to eat. The second step is to plan properly so you have the appropriate foods in the pantry when you need them. Stocking up on staples is key.

Dried apricots have high levels of potassium, which is critical to muscle contraction. Eating enough potassium can help ward off muscle cramps.

Nuts are another important staple. They are full of antioxidants and omega-3 fats, which help combat heart disease and cancer. Walnuts and almonds both have high levels of omega-3 fats, and they both have lots of calcium. Nuts also are good sources of protein, fiber, potassium and magnesium, the article says.

- Pem McNerney