Olympic Nutritionist Diet Tips

By: JESSICA WESSON

Edited by: CHRISTINA COLAVECCHIA

Whenever I am watching the Olympics I always wonder how the athletes get to be so good. Of course they get to utilize the best training sites and coaches in their countries, which definitely is very helpful. However there is also something that is equally important to these Olympic athletes, which is eating the right foods. “The intensity of women’s training has increased, and with that, the need to refuel correctly is more vital than ever before,” stated sports nutritionist Dawn Scott, a fitness coach for the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team. I came across some tips from Olympic nutritionists themselves that I feel will be very beneficial to all athletes and they are simple!

The first tip is to always eat breakfast. We have heard this one a million times and how it is the most important meal of the day. The reason for this is that your blood sugar  is low when you wake up because you have been fasting for however long you’ve been sleeping for (hopefully 8 or more hours). You don’t have to eat very much, just something to wake your body up.

Another one we hear a lot is to stay hydrated. This allows you to finish strong during a race or a workout and is good for your skin, tummy, hair – everything! Another easy tip is to add more fruits and veggies to your plate. Nobody wants to be sick come race day, and loading up on antioxidants will boost your immune system so you can stay healthy. In addition, you should take a multivitamin, which is something I absolutely swear by to keep me healthy. I am rarely sick and I believe a lot of that has to do with the vitamins I take.

Another tip from an Olympic nutritionist is to include some iron into your diet. It is common for females to be iron deficient, which can slow you down and also increase your risk of getting hurt. Of course none of us want this, so it is import to add iron products into our diets. Some examples of foods that contain iron are oatmeal, fortified cereals (which would both be great for breakfast!), red meat, and spinach (which can be snuck into your favorite smoothie).

The next is something that very busy people will benefit from, which is to plan ahead. Life sometimes gets in the way of proper nutrition and because we are not prepared, we can fall into temptation. If you prep your meals and snacks on Sunday, before your week starts, this will be hard to happen. In college I always made a trail mix and portion it into individual sized zip lock bags so I can grab them quick before a class. It’s all about preparation!

The next tip is to not diet. If you are training for several hours a day and you are strict regarding your caloric intake hoping to be lean, you are only hurting yourself. Doing so causes reduced stores of carbohydrates in your body, which are vital for your training and performance. Instead you need to carb load. I remember in high school before a race I would always make sure I ate pasta or a high-carb meal the night before. It turns out that this is not the right time to carb load, though. “If you wait until the day before your race to carbo-load, you’re too late”, says Carlson-Phillips, vice-president of nutrition research for Athletes’ Performance in Phoenix, Arizona. If you consume a lot of carbs at one time, your body cannot use them all so it stores the extra as fat, which none of us want. If you focus on your nutrition everyday and are not excluding carbs it will be very beneficial.

Recovery is another vital step to your workout. It is vital that you replenish your body so you can restore your muscles. My all-time favorite is chocolate milk because it is a great mix of protein and carbs and it is delicious! If you don’t refuel soon after an intense workout it will make your muscles sore and harder to recover. I am not always hungry after a workout, but I make sure I get something to replenish myself. “Even when you’re not racing, you should be making choices that will help your body recover faster,” says Carlson-Phillips.

To give you an idea of how much these Olympians have to eat to replenish after their intense training sessions, I came across Michael Phelps’ nutrition plan and my mind was blown! Can you believe that he eats 12,000 calories per day? Three fried-egg sandwiches, three chocolate chip pancakes, one five-egg omelet, three slices of French toast covered in sugar, one bowl of grits, and two cups of coffee is an example of his BREAKFAST. This just shows how many calories he is burning and how hard he works.

I have such a respect for all of these athletes for their dedication. If you love to workout hard on your own time, you can still benefit greatly from these tips. I definitely recommend watching our amazing athletes do what they do best!

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