Every 4 years for two weeks, I turn into a couch potato each
night from 7-11 p.m. Strong men in tights and swimming trunks
aside, I truly enjoy watching the high degree of competition
among these elite athletes. And of course it makes me wonder
what they must eat to fuel those bulging muscles.
learned a long time ago when I competed in my first (and last)
swim meet that athletic prowess takes more than just desire
and hard work. I was a decent swimmer and had the desire to
win. What I lacked — I painfully realized when I popped my
head out of the water at the end of my race and the other
swimmers were already out of the pool — was speed and
car or a freight train, the more we push our bodies to go
fast, the more fuel they require. Muscle strength, speed,
agility and endurance all depend on nutrition. And no one
nutrient does the job alone.
these top athletes keep their bodies going strong through
competition after competition? I checked out the official
nutrition site for the United State Olympic Committee (USOC)
and surprise, the balance of nutrients needed by athletes is
very similar to what we ordinary people require. Think of your
car that requires the same gas, oil and water whether you’re
going 40 or 80 miles an hour; athletes just need more frequent
fill-ups of high quality fuel.
fuel is important not just before a competition but after
every workout. To maintain high performance and endurance,
USOC sports dietitians recommend these 4 R’s of Recovery:
muscle glycogen, the carbohydrate fuel stored in muscles that
is depleted after intense workouts. Restock glycogen stores
with carbohydrate foods such as fruit, bagels, granola bars
and yes, even chocolate milk.
and regenerate muscles with high quality protein such as Greek
yogurt, eggs, soy foods, meat, fish and poultry.
muscles and the immune system (it’s hard to compete when you’re
sick) with colorful and antioxidant-rich foods. Examples are
fruits, veggies, whole grains, fish, nuts and olive oil.
with fluids and electrolytes. For every pound of sweat lost in
exercise, drink 3 cups of fluid, say these experts. Note: Pale
straw-colored urine is a sign that you are well hydrated.
with nutrition during the first 30 to 60 minutes after a
training bout or competition and you’ll reap these benefits,
say sports nutrition experts:
heart rate and blood pressure after a workout helps enhance
the delivery of nutrients to depleted muscles.
right after a workout triggers hormones to stop muscle
breakdown and begin muscle building.
remember, slow and steady wins the race…but not at the