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The Food of Champions

If you want to run, jump and throw faster and farther than your opponents you’re going to need to eat like a champion. With the Olympic Games just around the corner we thought it would be interesting to look at just what fuels these people, some of the fittest men and women in the world, to record-breaking performances.

The key to eating for peak performance is common sense really and the rules of good eating for top athletes are similar to those that apply to mere mortals like you and me.

If you follow the basic low fat and high protein diet that most athletes adhere to, you’ll be in great shape.

Let’s start with the most first and arguably the most important meal of the day.

 

Breakfast

 

You don’t need to consume near on 3,000 calories in a single sitting like former Olympic swimming champ Michael Phelps to set yourself up for the day, though Phelps’ favourite, pancakes make a great tasty start.

I like to make mine by putting fresh fruit such as strawberries and blueberries in the pancake batter itself. Berries are a great natural source of antioxidants and using them in this way makes the mixture taste even better. Top it off with maple syrup. Yum!

Another very athletic breakfast option is porridge. It is delicious with a sprinkling of brown sugar and has enough substance to keep you going strong all day long.

 

Lunch

 

Many athletes tend to eat light lunches, especially when they have strenuous afternoon training sessions planned.

Load up on fruit. Bananas are a great source of potassium, jokingly referred to as “nature’s power pack” because they are easy to digest and provide an instant energy boost.

A great way to make sure you get an adequate amount of fruit is to consume it in liquid form, such as a smoothie. If you’re on the run, grab one from one of the many Tank juice bars around the country. Raw Power  in Auckland also does a fantastic range of juices, and don’t get me started on their vegetarian falafel!

 

Dinner

 

For many years sports scientists and nutritionists have recommended a practice called “carbo loading”.  Simply put, this mean building up the body’s reserves of complex carbohydrate for use during competition.

Carbo loading normally begins two to three days out from competition. One of the best known sources of complex carbs is pasta, for a bit of variety, polenta is also excellent.

So, if you’re in training for a marathon, a big bike race or a match of some kind, you could do a lot worse than tucking into a big plate of pasta and vegetables.

If you’re up for a pre-competition pasta feast (or you just love the “taste of the Mediterranean”) check out Gina’s Kitchen  in Auckland, Osteria del Toro in Wellington or Etrusco in Dunedin.

For a post competition treat you could opt for a steak like David Beckham, or like English triathlete Alistair Brownlee, a nice pie.

 

 

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