This Is Why Athletes Should Avoid Spicy Food

Food is a vital part of an athlete’s routine. Eating the right food at the right time is very important regarding performance and health.

Athletes need to consider how much food to eat and what types to eat.

Athletes should avoid spicy foods as they can irritate the digestive tract. If they are not used to a lot of spice, they could suffer from indigestion, stomach cramps, and heartburn. It’s vital even for athletes who enjoy spicy food to restrict their intake before and after a performance or workout.

By reading on, you will discover more about appropriate foods to eat for an athlete, when and if spicy food is suitable for the athlete, and how much spice an athlete should be consuming.

Can Athletes Ever Eat Spicy Food Before a Game?

This Is Why Athletes Should Avoid Spicy Food

Athletes should not eat spicy food before a game. If you are an athlete new to the world of heat, you should consider not eating fiery-hot food before practice or competition. Spice noobs are more likely to develop digestion problems while their bodies get used to the fiery fruits.

An athlete that has developed a taste for spicy food should keep the fire intake to a minimum before a competition.

A dash of hot sauce or a pinch of paprika is unlikely to cause any emergency in those athletes with a high tolerance to spice. However, any spice must be at a mild to medium level.

Athletes should consider not eating any fiery, hot food for 24-hours before a big game or competition. It is not advisable to chow down on that spicy snack before you train, either. 

Spicy food tends to sit in the stomach longer. Eating spicy food before a game or any intense physical activity can cause gastroesophageal reflux, bringing the food back up to your throat and causing a burning sensation.

Is Chili Ever Good for an Athlete?

Chili can sometimes be good for an athlete. Chilies are good for weight loss for those needing to lose a few pounds before the big game. However, it is again advisable to time the eating of your chilies.

While spicy food can fool the mind into thinking it has had enough to eat, making it easier to lose weight, know your limit. Don’t consume too much fire at least 24 hours before the big event.

Another time chilies can be beneficial is when the athlete is not recovering well enough from swelling. Chilies have anti-inflammatory properties and are a great idea to help alleviate this. 

Chilies boost metabolism and your immune system due to their vitamin enriched properties. It is safe to believe that regular but moderate consumption of chilies will actually help you live longer. 

Each individual has a different level of tolerance to spicy food. This tolerance is greatly influenced by several factors, such as culture and biological adaptation. For instance, an athlete who grew up eating spicy food will be less likely to suffer from the adverse effects of consuming too much of it. 

Therefore, it is essential to know your limit and avoid pushing it especially if you are preparing for a big game.

Does Spicy Food Reduce Stamina?

Spicy food does not reduce stamina. It doesn’t have any effect on athletic ability, either. However, as a hot chili-laden meal can cause digestive issues, the athlete may have to leave a game or cut a performance short in times of a natural emergency.  

Trying to repress the call of nature will only weaken the athlete’s performance. Suppose the situation becomes more severe in terms of heartburn or such. In that case, the athlete will lose focus and become uncomfortable, which could seriously impact performance.

It is, therefore, essential that an athlete eats easily digestible foods. This knowledge is applicable both before and after the big competition.

Once the body has depleted a lot of energy after exercise, indigestion and heartburn can become even more of a problem because it is working so hard to repair itself.

Spices That Can Replace Chili

If you really need to spice up your food before a big game, think about ditching the scorching chili peppers. Consider an alternative and milder spice like turmeric, a delicious spice used in Indian cooking.

It has many health benefits, such as muscle recovery and performance, and anti-inflammatory properties, making it a good choice for post-competition.


Paprika and cumin are also spices that can replace stomach-upsetting chili fire. They, too, have good health benefits and will gently liven up any meal. 

If used moderately, they won’t give your digestive system reason to complain in the middle of the big match. A mild portion of spice will ensure that you will not have any resentment towards the kick you need at eating time!

What Are Easily Digestible Foods for Athletes?

Easily digestible foods for athletes include fruits, nuts, and low-fat yogurt. Fruits are especially good as they will also contribute to hydration. An often overlooked treat for consumption at this time is peanut butter. Dipping it with celery will not harm your athletic performance.

As discussed, spicy food may sit in the stomach longer, making it difficult for athletes to perform their best during a game. Therefore, it is best to choose alternatives to chili and eat easily digestible food before and after a game.

Food Athletes Should Eat After Performing

Proteins, whole carbs, and good fats are excellent choices. However, it is essential to choose the right ones, especially when selecting carbs and fats. It is also critical that an athlete doesn’t over-indulge as eating the correct amount will ensure reparation and growth.

Whole Carbs and Refined Carbs

It’s better to eat whole carbs as opposed to refined carbs. Whole carbs promote sugar regulation and contain essential fiber. Refined carbs will give an initial boost of energy but cause a spike in your blood sugar, leaving you craving more sugar.


Examples of Whole Carbs include:

  • Potatoes and vegetables
  • Whole grains such as brown rice, wholewheat bread, and pasta
  • Oats
  • Beans and lentils
  • Fruits such as apples or berries
  • Dairy products like yogurt or milk

Examples of refined carbs include:

  • Sugary drinks
  • White bread or anything made with white flour
  • Breakfast cereal
  • White rice
  • Anything with added sugars


Muscle proteins break down when athletes perform and need to be replaced by the amino acids found in protein-rich foods. Without this essential acid, athletes will feel fatigued and sore after competing.

Getting some protein in you within 60 minutes of performance or exercise is recommended.

Skinless organic chicken
Raw skinless organic chicken

Examples of suitable proteins to eat include:

  • Skinless organic chicken
  • Fresh fish
  • Lean beef 
  • Eggs, 
  • Pork tenderloin 
  • Almonds


Good fats are healthy for the heart, reduce cholesterol and help you feel full and satisfied. Just be sure to eat small amounts of them while avoiding bad fats altogether.


Monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fats are good fats. Some examples of foods containing monounsaturated fats include:

  • Oils like olive and canola oil
  • Avocados
  • Seeds from pumpkins and watermelons
  • Nuts such as hazelnuts, cashews, and macadamias

Some foods containing polyunsaturated fats are:

  • Walnuts
  • Oils such as vegetable oil and soybean oil
  • Fish like salmon or tuna
  • Seeds like sunflower or flax seeds

Trans and saturated fats are bad fats. Avoid them at all costs before or after exercise. Even if you are not an athlete, you should eat these foods in moderation.

Some trans fats to avoid are:

  • French fries
  • Fried chicken
  • Doughnuts
  • Cookies and cakes

Saturated-fat food examples include:

  • Fatty meats like bacon and sausage
  • Cured meats
  • Ice cream and milkshakes
  • Butter and oils like coconut oil
  • Breads and pastries
  • Chocolate

Final Thoughts

As much as most of us here love to eat spicy food, athletic visitors to the website should think more carefully when consuming it. 

While giving up your favorite spices is not necessary, the timing of eating fiery meals is crucial.

Choosing the right amount of chili heat is important, too. Knowing when to substitute the little devils with a milder spice is essential knowledge.

However, people know their bodies, and spice lovers are aware of their tolerance to the heat. Using caution and common sense in the lead-up to the big event is advisable.


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Bill Kalkumnerd
Bill Kalkumnerd

I am Bill, I am the Owner of HappySpicyHour, a website devoted to spicy food lovers like me. Ramen and Som-tum (Papaya Salad) are two of my favorite spicy dishes. Spicy food is more than a passion for me - it's my life! For more information about this site Click

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