Lolo Jones made headlines this past fall when she revealed her Olympic diet consisted of daily double cheeseburgers from McDonald’s. Well, let me tell you, you will not get a bod like Lolo just by eating fast food (it’s called research people, I didn’t want to but I had to). I guess working out like a beast (and believe me, I mean that as a compliment) is the only way a gal can get away with the cheeseburger diet, unfortunately. And not only was Ms. Jones killing herself in the gym, she was also looking to gain about 30 pounds, which I’m assuming most of us are not looking to do. Now just because one Olympian’s cheeseburger diet won’t help us, doesn’t mean we can’t learn a thing or two (or eight) from some of the greatest athletes in the world.
1. Change your views on food. Olympic athletes view food as fuel, not as a pleasure to revel in. I’m not saying you should eat anything that grosses you out like a glass of Rocky Balboa raw eggs, but start looking at food as the way to fuel your life and your goals. If you want to lead an active life, you need to eat for an active life. So no fad diets, no crappy processed food. Instead, eat natural, whole foods. Life is too short to eat food you don’t like, but it’s also too short to eat food that is terrible for you.
2. Eat breakfast. We all know it’s the most important meal of the day right? So, why do many of us skip it? An Olympian would never skip breakfast, they know starting the day on a solid nutritional foundation is the best way to achieve their goals, and you do too. Here are great low carb, high protein recipes to start your day off right.
3. Don’t diet. Dieting is for dweebs. If you’re working out, the last thing you want to do is start slashing tons of calories. You need to make sure you’re eating enough of the right foods to sustain your workouts. I know it goes against what many of us have thought over the years, but obsessively restricting calories will end up doing much more harm than good in the long run.
4. Don’t forget your recovery meal. Before you head to the gym to crush your workout, make sure you have your recovery meal planned. What’s a recovery meal? It’s the meal you eat immediately after your workout to ensure your glycogen levels are replenished and your muscles get enough protein to begin the repair process (that’s how your muscles grow). You should have your recovery meal prepped and ready to go. A protein shake is great and easy (just check the protein powder ingredients for chemicals), but if that’s not your thing make sure you get some protein and carbs, and no fat because it will only slow down digestion. This is the one instance we want our food digested right away.
5. Water, water, water. When you live an active life, hydration is even more important, and it’s already pretty freakin’ important. When you work out you sweat, and you need to make an effort to stay hydrated, especially if you drink caffeinated beverages that can dehydrate you (like the million cups of coffee we all drink every day). If you’re terrible at drinking water all day, set reminders on your phone.
6. Eat smaller, frequent meals. Keeping your energy up requires smaller frequent meals as opposed to a traditional three meals a day plan. By eating five to six small meals a day, you’re going to not only keep your energy up, but you’ll also fire up your metabolism. We’re not suggesting you eat chicken nuggets and French fries five times a day either. Eat lean protein, veggies, complex carbs, and fruit.
7. Don’t forget the fats. Good fats are essential for muscle, wound and nerve repair, they play a role in hormone production and cell membrane structure, and some vitamins are fat-soluble. So, live it up with a spoonful of almond butter.
8. Plan ahead. Olympic athletes have most of their meals prepped and ready to go since they often have to pack and travel with them. Take a page from their book and spend some time chopping veggies and cooking a lean protein like chicken breasts so they’re ready to go when you are. If you’re going to be out of the house for more than an hour or two at a time, make sure you bring some food with you, it’s not worth risking getting caught without healthy food options. Here are 20 Best Cooking Tips to Save Time, Money and Sanity!
Now we can’t promise that by following these tips people will mistake you as a member of the US track and field team, but you will look better and more importantly feel better, so what more could you really want?