Whether you want to be a master athlete or just get more fit, you might wonder what those well-toned, ultra-healthy Olympic athletes do to keep their figures and provide themselves with enough energy to go for the gold. Keep in mind that a healthy diet is not necessarily a list of foods; instead, it has a lot to do with habits and the way you fuel your body. Take a look at these tips for eating like an athlete.
They don't skip the most important meal of the day.
Many people try to get by without eating breakfast. No, a cup of coffee does not substitute for a healthy breakfast! Try to work up to consuming a third of your calories in the morning; it will jump-start your metabolism for the entire day. If you currently don't eat or eat very little, don't jump into stuffing yourself first thing in the morning, as that will likely slow you down and make you feel uncomfortable. Start small: Try eating a yogurt, some cereal with milk and a handful of blueberries, or some whole-grain toast with a smear of peanut butter.
Olympic athletes get enough iron.
Athletes, and women in particular, can run low on iron stores. If you've had symptoms such as fatigue, headaches or general malaise, or if you are a woman with heavy menstrual periods, it makes sense to get tested for iron deficiency, which can be treated with supplements.
If your iron stores are normal, just make sure you're getting enough in your daily diet to keep it that way. Some foods that are good sources of iron include iron-fortified cereal, red meat and spinach. Talk to your doctor before supplementing with iron pills, as too much iron can cause constipation, which won't do you any favors during your workout.
They eat enough carbs but don't go crazy.
You've probably heard about carb-loading the morning before a heavy workout, race or competition. While eating a high-carb, low-protein meal before exerting yourself is a good idea, filling up on heavy, sugar-laden carbs is obviously not going to make you perform your best. A mix of simple carbs and those that are more complex is a good strategy, so add some fruits or veggies into your meal, along with carbs like pasta or bread.
High-performing athletes drink plenty of fluids.
Dehydration is one of your worst enemies when it comes to staying fit and healthy. Carry a refillable water bottle around with you. A squeeze of lemon or lime will add flavor without adding calories. During your workout or competition, you can alternate in sports drinks to keep your mineral levels up where they should be. On days that you're not working hard, let thirst be your guide.
Keeping yourself fit requires attention to both exercise and diet. Taking some cues from the most elite athletes in the world is one way to see what's ideal, then modify for your own needs. As always, you should consult with a physician before making any drastic changes to your diet. You can also depend on My Hot Lunchbox to provide you and your coworkers with appealing, healthy meals that will get you through your workday, even if you're not an Olympic athlete.