Tokyo Olympics 2020 came to an end on 8th August but the celebrations have just begun. India has made history by bagging 7 medals (surpassing the previous haul of 6 medals) and Neeraj Chopra became India’s second individual Olympic champion to win gold after Abhinav Bindra.
Olympic athletes are some of the most committed people in the world and deep down we all know-It is their consistent good habits that enable them to reach up to that level of achievement. They take their routines very seriously and eat for their sport.
For instance, Novak Djokovic - The famous tennis player says it is very important for him to start his day with the right nutrients. It generally goes like this- A large cup of normal temperature water; 2 tablespoons of honey; and a healthy breakfast comprised of muesli/oatmeal, nuts, seeds, fruits, coconut oil, and alternative milk or coconut water.
Neeraj Chopra mentioned that he consumed a lot of salads or fruits when tournament was near. He also told in an interview with ESPN that he included boiled eggs and grilled chicken breast in his diet. Neeraj expressed his love for salmon fish which is a delicious food for good health. He takes fresh fruits and juices after his workout session.
Let’s have an overall view of what kind of nutrition and related habits Olympic heroes dial in to improve their performance. Also know how you can inculcate the same-
They hardly diet
This can be a shocker to many of you but the truth remains the same- They don’t diet completely! In fact, they eat enough to fuel their body and by any chance, if they stuff themselves on a certain day, they work it out.
Of course, maintaining an idle weight plays an important role in some sports like weight lifting so keeping a check on calories is also vital.
You can also monitor your calories easily on The Wellness Corner app and adjust your habits accordingly.
The main goal is to accomplish the training goals and eating enough healthy food is one part of it. Losing weight isn’t always the ultimatum rather it’s about having an adequate weight to support the training.
Their nutrition is backed up by professional nutritionists
Typically, all the athletes take the help of certified nutritionists to get their food and fluid intake adjusted to improve their performance. By outsourcing their nutrition needs to a professional they don’t have to worry about what they are eating and can focus on bigger things: their training.
Spending long hours on the internet searching for idle sample plans can be exhausting. You don’t even know if it is suitable for you! That’s why verified dietitians exist so that they can help you with what’s best for you after analyzing your history, your current state and finally aligning them with your expected goals.
They avoid fad diets that don’t stand a chance in the long run
Olympians understand that there are no shortcuts to success. Fad diets are claimed to be the easy way of achieving weight loss goals or health improvements but they only cause a steep fall in nutrition which many don’t realize. It also leads to additional problems that include a negative impact on mental health, anxiety over food choices, and disturbances in metabolism.
Deficiencies and imbalances like these can sway the performance, as well as deteriorate the health.
Balance the macronutrients and make sure you're getting the right mix of micronutrients too. Include magnesium, vitamin D, Omega-3, high-protein foods, whole grains, bananas, plant-based whey powder in your diet.
They plan in advance
The wisest thing athletes do is – Map out the meal plan in advance. It includes setting timing by scheduling what, when and how much to eat. Also referred to as Nutritional Periodization. They eat frequently but in small portions to fuel their body throughout the day. The athlete’s nutritionists prepare their meals considering what their body will need at a particular time.
Also because the players travel often, healthy snacking comes in handy. Some of the healthy snack options are: Protein bars, oatmeals, peanut butter, low-fat yoghurt, probiotic drink, trail mix (mixture of dried fruits), etc.
If you are someone who doesn’t like sticking to a single snack then you can relish healthy snack combinations as well.
Additional nutritional tips
1. Always eat before a workout, even if it is something small
2. Post-workout eating helps to recover quickly
3. Listen to your body, follow your hunger and satisfaction; know when to stop eating.
4. Never eat something new without consulting your nutritionist
5. If you don't stay hydrated, your physical performance can suffer
While nutrition intake or diet may differ from sport to sport but the basics remain the same. When Olympians know they can afford to eat more calories, they don’t eat a burger, they make better choices like avocados. Starving helps none, it is just about moving ahead in the right way by feeding your body what gives it more strength. While it is important to emphasize on eating habits, maintaining an overall healthy routine comprising: Good-quality sleep, regular exercises, goal visualization (manifestations), keeping a record of the training and achievements, boosting your self-confidence, and worrying less….overall treating your body the best way towards your best self is the key!