The Diet of Champions
Whoever takes their workout seriously knows the value of a good diet in powering towards fitness goals. From big meal plans right down to snacking habits, each digested morsel is a reflection of attitude.
No one understands this better than professional athletes particularly those with longstanding success. One such athlete is Russian tennis star, Maria Sharapova, who told woman with drive in an exclusive interview that she genuinely enjoys her food – both cooking and eating it.
“I love looking forward to a meal. Because food is such an important part of health and taking care of your body, it is something I enjoy thinking and speaking about and preparing for myself.”
You do not have to be a five-time Grand Slam champion to understand how your food choices impact your workout performance. These five pointers will have you eating like your sports hero in no time.
Also read: The Heart of Maria Sharapova
The childhood advice is worth repeating – do not skip the one meal that will prepare you for the rest of the day. Athletes have breakfast no less than 30 minutes after waking up to stabilise their blood sugar and decrease their total caloric intake throughout the day.
Cannot eat like a king at the break of dawn? You do not have to. Get your body used to having an early meal by starting with a glass of juice. Then move on to proteins like omega-3 rich eggs or egg whites, low-fat organic dairy, lean breakfast meats and whole grains like steel cut oats or quinoa.
One of the simplest breakfasts is wholesome cereal with low-fat milk, a banana and juice. Not only does it provide carbohydrates, protein and vitamins, but is also easy enough to carry with you.
The secret to hydration is consistency. Drinking water throughout the day rather than loading up on fluids only during your workout will better help replace what you lose in sweat.
“Breakfast for me starts with water,” Maria says. “I drink half a liter of water when I wake up just to feel like I have started on a clean note. Only then do I have a coffee.”
Also be consistent in your choice of fluids. If you drink water throughout the day, then do not switch to sugar-loaded energy drinks during workouts. Concerned about replacing electrolytes? Then dilute an energy drink with water.
Find Superpower Food
Certain food work wonders for an athlete’s metabolism, stamina and recovery. These six sit at the top of the power food list.
Raw almonds. The best high fat, anti-inflammatory food for recovery, to maintain the metabolic process, support stamina and improve blood and oxygen flow.
Chunk light tuna in water. A source of protein, magnesium, potassium, B vitamins and omega-3 essential fatty acids that enhance recovery time after a strenuous workout.
Edamame. These small Japanese beans are one of the best plant proteins, similar in quality to eggs and cow’s milk, that improves blood pressure, controls blood sugar and improves the immune function.
Skinless grilled chicken breast. A great source of protein and vitamin B to convert proteins, fats, and carbohydrates into usable energy.
Greek yogurt. Enhances recovery from fatigue and maintains a healthy immune system. One or two servings a day can help maximise loss of fat and minimise loss of muscle.
Peanut butter. A great snack for quick, sustained energy. Research has found that those who eat nuts twice a week are less likely to gain weight than those who almost never eat nuts.
Keep The Carbs
If you are gearing up for a long-distance or high-intensity competition, then carbs will keep you in top form. Replace a small protein or vegetable at dinner the night before with a carb-rich food to ensure you get the proper amount of carbs without going overboard. Some of the best carbs for athletes include sweet potatoes, oats, wild rice and chickpeas.
Eat For Recovery
Believe it or not, one of the best routes to recovery lies in a carton of chocolate milk. Drinking chocolate milk no more than 20 minutes after a workout or competition will help reduce muscle soreness and fatigue, and enhance recovery. If chocolate and milk are not part of your diet, then a piece of low-fat cheese, a protein shake or a small sandwich with egg and lean meat will do just as well.
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