The Olympic athlete’s body truly is a temple. Care, effort and training go into making an Olympian’s body into the finely tuned machine that works harder, endures longer, wins medals and breaks records. Often, Olympic caliber athletes train for hours every day, so the fuel they put into their bodies is equally as important as the training regimen they follow. Many Olympic athletes expend vast amounts of calories during their training and consequently need to take in many more calories than the average athlete or person. But learning what they eat and how they view food could help you tweak your diet so that it can better fuel your body during your own training regimen, whether that is muscle toning or training for a marathon!
When most people hear that elite athletes fuel up on calories in order to power their workouts, sometimes 5,000 or more per day, they may assume that the athlete can sit and eat whatever they want in order to get enough calories. However, the idea that athletes sit around and eat pasta, fried chicken or ice cream is not true at all. Each athlete tailors their individual diet plan to match their sport and their body type, and the foods they need to eat are the same ones you and I eat to be healthy, protect our hearts and maintain a comfortable body weight. Even though each person’s needs are individual, the same tried and true formula applies: you need to take in enough calories to fuel your body and make sure that your intake balances the amount of calories you expend. Take in too little calories and your body does not consistently have the fuel it needs to sustain itself, and, on the flip side, if you take in too many calories it will lead to weight gain.
Another important consideration Olympic athletes make in regards to their diet is the type of training regimen they have and what that regimen requires in the way of food. This way of thinking could benefit you, too. Some athletes need to take in more protein from meat and dairy in order to help muscle development. Other athletes need more daily calories, and still others may need to eat a lot of healthy carbohydrates.
The bottom line for both the Olympic athlete and the average Joe athlete is that the food sources are more important than the exact calorie count, how often you eat or how many times you eat in a day. Fresh, healthy foods such as lean meat, fish, fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds, whole grains and low fat dairy will be the basic building blocks of an elite athlete’s diet, and also of a normal, healthy diet for someone who wants to enhance their performance, look good and feel good. There’s really no secret trick to eating like the Olympic athletes…they simply eat with common sense and an individual knowledge of what their bodies need, and this is a great way to approach nutrition in your own life.