The Olympic Athlete Diet
How to Eat Like an Olympian
1. Eat Smart, Eat Frequently to Maximize Performance
For You: Piattoly says, “The principles of sports nutrition never change regardless if you're a weekend warrior, average exerciser, or elite athlete; the only aspect that changes is the total caloric intake. Whether I'm working with a mom who plays tennis five days a week or an Olympian, we still focus on the same eating principles such as eating every 3 to 4 hours, eating after training to enhance recovery, and hydrating well.”
Recipe for Maximum Performance: Lean Chili
Piattoly has his own lean chili recipe he recommends to all his athletes. This dish gets a hefty dose of protein from the extra lean ground meat and beans as well as a punch of vitamins and antioxidants from the tomatoes, peppers, and carrots. Combine 1 pound of browned extra lean ground beef or ground turkey breast, 1 bag shredded carrots, 1 can drained spicy pinto or kidney beans, 1 cup chopped onion, 1 cup chopped green pepper, 1 chopped tomato, 1 cup chopped celery, 1 bottle low-sodium tomato juice, 2 tablespoons chili powder, and 1 tablespoon garlic powder. Simmer 30 minutes until the veggies are tender.
Or view our Chunky Vegetarian Chili. Just add cooked extra lean ground beef or turkey breast to the chili for an extra dose of protein.
2. Plan for Maximum Recovery to Get Lean
For You: Hertzler says the three key principles of sports nutrition—eating to fuel the body, eating to repair the body, and eating to be healthy—apply to Olympic-level athletes and the average exerciser. He says to eat a piece of fruit before each meal, make sure to consume a blend of lean protein and carbs within 30 minutes after your workout, plan your meals ahead, and get healthy sources of calcium and protein that are low in fat.
Recipe for Recovery: Chocolate Peanut Butter Shake
Hertzler swears by a post-workout chocolate-peanut butter shake to restore balance in the body. Blend 1 cup skim or vanilla soy milk, 1 banana, 1 scoop of chocolate protein powder (such as Chocolate EAS Recovery Protein Powder), and 2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter.
3. Portion Control is Key for Strength Training
For You: Braakhuis says regular exercisers may not be training at the intensity or type of sessions expected of the Olympic athletes and should be wary of taking in too many calories; she suggests the regular exerciser watch the portion size of their snack options. Fruit and lean protein can be used in moderation to hold stamina.
Recipe for Healthy Indulgence: Cookie Dough Dip
4. Give Food Function for Endurance Training
For You: Consuming low-glycemic foods steadily throughout the day, focusing on hydration and the type of foods you eat are top tips that apply to the non-athlete. “If the everyday person adheres to these suggestions, they should be able to optimize their health, perform better workouts, and even do their job better,” explains Austin.
Recipe for International Flavor: Eritrean-Style Food
Austin says the number one thing for athletes is the flavor of their food. “The most flavorful food often comes from cultural dishes that provide unique spices,” she adds. Austin’s favorites include Injera (Ethiopian flatbread) with either Tsebhi derho (spicy chicken) or Tsebhi sega (spicy minced meat).
Think of this Teff Injera Bread with Carrot-Ginger Chutney for your next international food venture.
Also try, African Chicken in a Spicy Red Sauce for a flavor-infused, high-protein meal.
5. Balance Mindful Meals for Agility and Balance
For You: “You don't want to begin your workday on an empty stomach just as an athlete does not want to begin a training session on an empty stomach. And the composition of your meal is that balance between carbs and protein that is so often overlooked when we eat in a hurry or snack. Focus on giving yourself the best type of fuel,” Korzun explains.
Recipe for a Comforting Cool Down: Salmon Fish Tacos with Avocado Slaw
Korzun likes to create familiar comfort foods with a healthy, performance-inspired twist. For example, he recently had a cookout with the Alpine Team after a long day of "max performance" testing in the gym. They cooked fish tacos with salmon, grilled peppers, and avocado slaw for dinner. “The idea was to use a fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids and grill it instead of frying. Serve on corn tortillas, which provide more fiber than flour tortillas, and use a cabbage slaw instead of lettuce for more vitamin A and fiber. Use avocado in place of mayo for a lighter slaw rich in unsaturated fats,” Korzun suggests.
We hope the Alpine Team will also give our Tuna-Guacamole Tacos a try.