Gold Medal Reasons You Should Eat Like an Olympic Athlete
By Sara Butler
The Winter Olympics are coming! This year, they’re in Pyeongchang, South Korea (say that fast three times fast!). I don’t know about you, but I love watching the Olympics on television. Even though curling seems like the only sport I could possibly participate in (and even then, I’d probably strain a muscle), I think there’s a lot to admire about the athletes who are so dedicated to their sport. Many have sacrificed so much in order to train day-in and day-out for their chance at Olympic gold.
There are some pretty important lessons to learn from these athletes that can be applied in your own life. Even if your aspirations go no further than to get in some form of moderate exercise a few days a week to make what you forked over for your gym membership worth it, elite athletes have something to teach each of us.
If you want to optimize your own health and fitness, then take a page from the Olympic athlete playbook and learn how to fuel your body right. Here are a few of the dietary habits of elite athletes I think we can all learn from!
Eat for Recovery
After you’ve done your duty at the gym, how many times have you stopped to get a pizza on the way home? That’s not going to earn you the gold! A lot of people want to reward themselves for their workout with an indulgence, but athletes with Olympic dreams know that they must choose their meals carefully. You must replenish the nutrients your body has lost during your workout and instead provide it with what it needs to rebuild and heal.
Nutritionists recommend that you eat some sort of snack or meal within 30 minutes after your workout is done. The formula for success is to combine lean protein with complex carbohydrates, healthy fat, and perhaps a vegetable or two. Think cheese and avocado on whole grain toast or Greek yogurt with honey and berries. Even if you’re not looking to set any Olympic records, you still need to remember to properly fuel your body after a workout so you don’t wake up the next day and feel as if you were used as a hockey puck.
They Don’t Count Calories
I’d be willing to bet that most Olympic athletes don’t spend their time counting calories. In fact, it’s not a common activity among competitive athletes at all, mostly because they torch a lot of calories during training each day.
Your calorie requirements depend on a lot of different factors such as sex, height, age, and activity level. If you don’t fuel your body right, then you’ll end up feeling drained and your performance during exercise will suffer too. You may even weaken your immunity and increase your chance of injury!
Don’t underestimate what your body needs to fuel your activity level. It can be really easy to underestimate what you need each day, so when you’re hungry, make sure you eat something healthy and balanced.
Listen to your Body
Your body is constantly giving you signals. The real question is: are you paying attention? Olympic athletes are in tune with their bodies and because of that, they listen to the cues being given. You may have to experiment with what kind of meals work best for you before and after a workout, but you should endeavor to find a meal that leaves you energized and satisfied. Pay attention to your body and it will let you know what it needs to stay healthy and keep you hopping in the form of pre- and post-workout fuel.
I can’t wait to see what happens at the Olympics this year! I have a lot of respect for athletes who don’t mind hurtling down a corridor of ice at 93 miles per hour in a fiberglass sled. And now I’m going to wonder what they ate before they put on that really tight suit.
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