The Olympics were one of the rare opportunities, which takes place every 4 years, where the most talented and adapted humans on earth compete at the highest level. Over the past few weeks we have seen some truly amazing tumbles, speeds, turns, power, motivation and physiques. You may have thought while watching these athletes, how on earth do they achieve such abilities?
Training, training and, more training is key. In actual fact it is estimated that you need 10,000 hours of practice to be a top talent. This equates to some 2.5 hours per day over 10 years! But talent alone is not enough, athletes must also have the right genes, motivation, training programme and ability to avoid injury. But even with all of this in place, an athlete is not complete without the right food. One of the worlds leading sport nutritionists, Professor Ron Maughan, has previously stated that “good food choices will not make a mediocre athlete into a champion, but poor food choices may prevent the potential champion from realising his/her potential”.
The amount of food an athlete eats is important to fuel the body. The shape and size of an athlete as well as the type of event (i.e. the demand on the body) dictates energy needs. One size to eating food certainly does not fit all. But what athletes have been trained to do is listen to their bodies and know not just how much to eat, but also what to eat. Different nutrients in our diet all play different roles in helping the body to: grow, adapt, recover, fuel, focus and protect. Athletes have also worked out what works for their bodies. In other words athletes have the ability to train hard, but train smart by thinking carefully about what they eat.
Now, eating the same amount of food as an Olympic athlete is not the way forward – especially if you are going to eat like Michael Phelps who has been known to eat 10,000 kcal’s in a day!
So what can we learn from these amazing athletes?
Eating smarter. The food you eat can dictate how your body performs day to day. Performance is not just how fast you can run, but how well you can function at work, or be with other people or how well you feel day to day. Carefully thinking about the amount of food, but also the types of food that work for your body is crucial to smarter eating. After all one size does not fit all.
Depending on your requirements, be it sustained energy, increased focus or fuel to perform, we’ve mapped out some key nutrients and food examples, see table 2. If you’re after some nutritious inspiration, specifically meeting these requirements, scroll down for our top recipes from the Spoon Guru app to help you on your way towards eating like an olympian.
Foods to eat and their benefit to the body
|Benefit to the body||Nutrient||Food examples|
|Fuel to perform||High Glycemic Index Carbohydrates||basmati rice, honey, jam, rice cakes|
|Sustained energy||Low glycemic index carbohydrates||brown rice, lentils, beans|
|Energy release||B3 and 6 vitamins||broccoli, corn, kale, peas, sweet potato, butternut squash|
|Recovery||Protein and carbohydrates||milk, meat + potatoes, quinoa + chickpeas|
|Grow and adapt||Proteins||meat, non-veg proteins|
|Focus||Caffeine||green tea, coffee, chocolate|
|Immunity||Polyphenols / vitamin C||ginger, garlic, blueberries / oranges, kiwi|
|Injury prevention||Omega 3 polyunsaturated fatty acids||salmon, smoked mackerel|
So eat more like an Olympic athlete by eating smarter!
Spoon Gurus – food for every body ♥
Spoon Guru’s top recipes fit for any athlete