WHILE not featuring as part of internet fad diets, a leading sports dietician and elite sportspeople have said grains and legumes can form a critical part of a high performance diet.
Speaking at last week's Australian Grains Industry Conference (AGIC), Simone Austin, president of Sports Dieticians Australia, Collingwood AFLW player Sharni Layton and Hawthorn ruckman Ben McEvoy said grains and legumes could play a big role in allowing athletes to maximising their potential.
Ms Layton, a vegetarian, said legumes were a critical means of getting protein.
"The more we get to understand legumes the more I truly believe that elite athletes can be vegetarian," Ms Layton said.
"I love pulses, they are so versatile and easy to use, I add them to a stir fry or blend them up in soups, they are great to add protein to a meal."
In terms of grains she said her breakfast mean usually featured whole grains in some form.
"I either have some whole grain toast with eggs or some muesli, I find breakfast really important, it stops me from getting 'hangry' mid-morning."
But it was not just in a vegetarian diet that grains and pulses were important.
"Before a game I have the quick sugar hit you get from fruit but also longer release energy from snacks such as pretzels or crackers," Mr McEvoy, who along with his football commitments farms at Callawadda, near Stawell in Victoria, said.
In terms of pulses he said food additives such as lupin flakes, which he used with his breakfast cereal, were a good way to boost nutrition easily.
"Through the summer a pulse-based salad is also great."
He also said he still embraced the long adhered to ritual of a carbohydrate rich meal before a game.
"Spag bol is still a favourite but I'll also do something like a curry and rice occasionally."
Ms Austin emphasised the value of whole grain products, saying they were invaluable not only for nutrition but things such as gut health.
She advocated parents get children eating products with different textures at an early age.
"Whether it is brown rice that is a bit chewier or whole grain bread it is good to get them used to those different textures."
Ms Layton, a champion netballer before embarking on her football career, said it had been noticeable how much extra energy she required in football compared to netball.
"You really have to make sure you have the right amount of food, football is a lot more energy intensive."