You may not be an Olympian, but that doesn’t mean you can’t learn how to eat like one.
No, I’m not talking about filling your plate with 12,000 calories like Michael Phelps has been reported to do. (He needs it – you don’t.)
I’m talking about quality over quantity here, and who better to teach us to fuel our bodies to perform at their peak than the human machines we call athletes?
Olympic athletes may be training for the toughest sports against the toughest competitors in the world, and your sport may be dodging traffic during your morning commute, navigating office cubicles in heels, and dominating your evening errands before the dry cleaners close, but they both require you to feed your body well.
Let’s take a page from an athlete’s book and learn how to eat like an Olympian, even though you’re not.
How to Eat Like An Olympian
Protein’s where it’s at. Many athletes eat three well-balanced meals and two snacks a day, and I’m all about that for you, too.
Although you obviously don’t need the same amount of food as them, you do need to eat consistently throughout the day to provide your body with consistent energy.
This can keep hunger pangs at bay which helps you make better food choices throughout the day.
Athletes are also diligent about incorporating complex carbs and protein into every meal and snack (think whole grains, quinoa, lentils, chicken, grass fed beef, hummus and peanut butter).
Skipping protein in snacks is a huge mistake mere mortals often make. Protein keeps you satisfied, so you’re less likely to be THAT person at the vending machine at the top of every hour.
Try eating some apple slices with peanut butter, or celery with hummus or crudite with fresh turkey slices. Your inner athlete will give you a gold medal for sure.
Get your plants on. Think you can’t live on plants? Think again. There are plenty of vegetarian athletes out there, and clearly they’re doing just fine.
You can absolutely get all the energy and nutrients you need for peak performance from plants, so don’t be afraid to green up your plate.
You don’t need to go full-on veg mode either. You can simply go meatless once a day or one day a week, and you might find it’s a great way for you to get more veggies into your diet and up your plant-based protein intake.
Even during those meat heavy meals, make sure to load up on veggies. They’ll help keep you full and just like athletes need those antioxidants to repair muscles and reduce inflammation, you do too.
Swap your usual meat with beans, barley, quinoa, nuts, and seeds, and you’ll be podium bound in no time.
Come prepared. Olympians may have impeccable food diaries most of the time, but they ARE human after all. This means ice cream looks as good to them as it does to you.
So how do they keep their cravings at bay and their bodies in top shape? By always being prepared.
Athletes know when they need to eat, what they need to eat, and how much they need to eat, which means they often travel with their food and snacks so they don’t stray from the plan.
You should absolutely be doing this, too.
If you let yourself get to the “OMG I’m starving” phase and you’re surrounded by poor food choices, you’re gonna have a tough time making a good food choice.
Always make the best choice available, or better yet always have a snack with you as an SOS.
So there you have it. See? There’s very little difference between you and an Olympian. You may not run as fast or jump as high or skate as gracefully, but you know how to eat like one and that makes you a winner.