If you’re an athlete, healthy food to fuel your body is high on your priority list, and it is an integral part of your training routine. Healthy foods don’t have to be boring or tasteless, so we are going to explore 10 powerful ways to eat and drink like an Olympian.
Okay, let’s start with a few assumptions about training and fitness.
You train hard to reach your best performance level. You’ve studied performance techniques, researched other athlete’s training tips and plans, and experimented with different methods to reach your goals.
While you are working to develop strong muscles and conditioned heart, you hardly ever miss a practice or training session. Through this process you’re burning calories and a lot of them! So, why not indulge…dessert, high fat foods, extra carbs – you need them AND you’ve earned them, right? Well, let’s see.
Fueled by a strong training plan and all those extra calories, you feel like a powerhouse in the beginning. But as you move deeper into your training routine, you notice you’re feeling a little tired and moody and your sleep quality is suffering. When working out, you notice your tank runs out far sooner than you expect. So, what’s going on?
You know the answer. Your body is pushing back from that sugary, fatty food. Yep, our mind finds quick justification for it, but our body flat lines in response.
Having a solid training plan is just one part of the equation. You also need to include healthy foods because just like the training you do, the food you eat enhances your performance.
Olympic athletes know this and use it to their advantage. Let’s take a look at some of the foods that fuel their body and their mind for peak performance.
10 Powerful Ways to Eat and Drink Like an Olympian
Make your meals exciting and appealing to the eye. You also want them to taste amazing. Here are some ideas to help you get the best nutrition possible and keep your body performing like it needs to:
1) Add Color. You get the most nutrients and antioxidants from eating a variety of colors. Choose fruits and vegetables that have vivid colors like red, purple, green, and orange.
● Dried Cranberries, raisins, dates, apricots
● Leafy Greens
● Red Pepper
● Green Pepper
● String Beans
● Yellow Squash
● Red Cabbage
Find creative ways to add the above fruits and veggies to your dishes for color, crunch, and taste. You can add red or green pepper strips to your salads, dried cranberries to oatmeal, or eat a squash and couscous stir-fry.
2) Switch Up Meals. If you were in the Olympic village, you might notice some different ways of eating. You may notice an Olympian eating a “peanut butter and jelly wrap,” or even a veggie burger for breakfast. Then you may see another eating oatmeal and dried fruit in the middle of the day. It all depends on what your body needs at what time. Using the old rule “carb up” before workouts or routines, your body may need a good bowl of oatmeal or grains at 2 p.m. in the afternoon as a snack. Sometimes breaking up the norms can make eating for training more fun!
3) Add Anti-Inflammatory Foods. Plain oatmeal can be boring. Step it up a notch by adding anti-inflammatory foods that add a nutty flavor with a health benefit. Try adding; flaxseeds, chia seeds, raisins, almonds, and berries. You can also get the benefits of anti-inflammatory foods by using drinks made from tart cherries and/or beet juices for the same effect prior to and post workout. This will help you achieve faster muscle recovery and help prevent exercise injuries.
4) Wrap it up. Syrian bread, naan, and tortillas all offer a lower carb version of bread. You can wrap up pretty much anything and they are easy to eat on the go. Try a peanut butter and jelly wrap, vegan egg substitute with tofu bacon and salsa wrapped in a whole-wheat tortilla, or even a quinoa and grilled veggie wrap for dinner.
5) Make Fun Food out of Healthy Food. Do you enjoy peanut butter on toast? Change it up to mashed avocado on gluten-free toast with a dash of salt and pepper. Try different dips for your cut up fresh veggies like hummus, guacamole, or white beans mixed with parmesan and garlic. You can also turn just about anything into a pizza!
6) Juice it up. You can juice up a rainbow of healthy things to drink. You can mix fruits and veggies as long as they have a mild flavor that isn’t overpowering. Try a green juice made from mild leafy greens, add beets, bananas, apple, berries, and add a scoop of protein or energy powder.
7) Have Carbs, Add Protein. Athletes need carbs, lot’s of them. The best way to avoid the “spikes” from eating just carbs alone is to add a protein with them. You can even eat a large stack of pancakes, just shake in some protein powder to the mix. Always eat either a slice of cheese or some peanut butter with your fruit and stay away from eating a slice of bread alone without something on it.
8) Avocado What? Want to skip the yogurt or milk in your smoothie. Try throwing in an avocado for deliciously good creaminess. Avocado flavor tends to be downplayed by whatever you put in your smoothie, so you will only taste the other fruits you put in. However, the level of creamy is beyond what any dairy product will give you!
9) Keep Snacks Tasty. If you’re tempted to snack on chips or sweets, try to make your healthy snacks a tasty alternative. You can roast sweet potato slices in the oven, sprinkled with sea salt. One Olympian favors graham crackers spread with cream cheese to replicate the taste of cheesecake.
10) Enjoy a “Cheat.” Olympians do this more often than you would think. They may even save their “cheat day” for just before a competition. It’s not unheard of when an Olympic athlete eats healthy during training, then proceed to stuff themselves with up to 10,000 calories the day of competition.
While you should still keep this healthy, you may find endurance requires way more calories than you think. Pancakes tend to be a popular item for this, just try spreading them with peanut butter instead of drowning them in maple syrup. Craving chocolate for your “cheat” then go right ahead, but get a candy bar that has nuts in it.
The good news most Olympians enjoy a variety of foods within reason and moderation. The Olympic village serves thousands of athletes every day with different tastes and food requirements. As for food requests they will probably tell you “anything goes.” It’s all about making healthy choices and knowing just what your body needs for top performance!
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