With the Olympic Games and European Football Championships dominating our screens, we’ll be seeing plenty of images of sporting heroes flash before our eyes in 2016.
For many people, it’s big events like this that spur them on to want to succeed in their own sport – be that enthusiastic children or adults wanting to pursue their hobby with a renewed vigour or budding athletes keen to be the next big stars winning medals and trophies on an international stage.
If you want to do well at sport – at any level – then you need to be in good shape. Yes, you need to practice your chosen discipline and exercise often to get in tip top condition, but you also need to fuel your body with a healthy and balanced dose of all of the right nutrients. The diet of a sports start can be every bit as tough and complicated as the activity they engage in.
Could you manage it, even for a week? Here’s what it entails…
Olympic gymnast Daniel Purvis told the Mirror he starts a typical training day with two poached eggs on wholemeal toast, helping to fuel a three-hour session. Post training is lunch, and he re-stocks his body with chicken, pasta, a bit of salad and a protein shake.
He stressed: “I am very motivated about my protein shakes – especially when I am training so hard because I know how much they refuel your body.”
After that, it’s back to training before a lighter evening meal. This normally consists of some meat – beef, chicken or gammon – with potato. If he needs a snack he reaches for a cereal bar.
He added: “The meals that I will rely on in the run-up to Rio are the ones that I have taken before. Everything is high protein, high carb and energy sufficient. I’ll also be having lots of fresh fruit and vegetables to really feel healthy.”
Arsenal has long been seen as a pioneering club when it comes to diet. Arsene Wenger revolutionized the way the North London club operated and most rivals have followed suit since. Current head nutritionist James Collins told The Telegraph what makes up the menu for the Gunners.
Breakfast often involves porridge – with lighter grains such as quinoa used – or eggs in wraps.
Snacks are then all about upping the protein intake – with flapjacks and mousses made from scratch to perform this vital function. He stressed: “Typically footballers can struggle to get enough protein. They have grown up knowing they need a carb-based diet for energy so they rarely lack carbs, but that’s not necessarily the case for protein, which is so important for muscle recovery – especially as training has become more explosive over the years.”
Footballers also road test supplements such as caffeine or carbohydrate gels in training to ensure their body handles them naturally when they are in the midst of the action on the field.
The post match diet also involves ‘recovery drinks’ that top up the footballers’ levels of carbohydrates, protein and antioxidants.
Collins also revealed: “Phase two of the recovery process involves players eating from a recovery station in the changing room which features a selection of food served buffet–style. The theme is a healthy take on players’ favourite foods. The idea is that we are encouraging players to eat in order to help the recovery process, so they get food they will enjoy. A popular buffet food is sushi with a selection of temaki or hand rolls and some sashimi as well.”
Boxers need to be at the top of their physical performance and have a very careful eye on their weight, as they fight in strict weight categories.
English Institute of Sport Senior Performance Nutritionist Mark Ellison offered an insight into how this works to the GB Boxing site.
He gave the example of boxer Luke Campbell’s diet as he looked to keep to 54kg.
The diet plan was:
*7am – glass of water, weight check
*8am – porridge with skimmed milk and an apple
*10.30am – 500ml water (or electrolyte drink) with an hour-and-a-half training
*12 noon – chicken breast, pasta, veg
*3pm – 500ml water (or electrolyte drink) plus 90 minutes of boxing
*4.30pm – ‘recovery shake’
*6.30pm – salmon and veg
*8pm – 500ml water as part of recovery session
*10pm – time for bed to start again in the morning!
Here’s another Fighter’s Diet you can try…
- Sportsmen and women rely heavily on planning. They have to get their diet right – it’s a crucial part of their preparation.
- Protein is important. Many athletes need a boost of this in shakes and snacks. If you think about how to use such products in your diet, we suggest you consult with an expert first. When that expert does recommend adding nutritional supplements, one company that helps its customers achieve their health, fitness and sporting goals through such supplements – is Fysiqal Nutrition (www.fysiqalnutrition.com).
- Every athlete has different requirements. Don’t underestimate the need to be very specific.
- Breakfast is crucial to set you up for the day. For many athletes it boils down to a choice of eggs or porridge.