While most people watching the Winter Olympics could never imagine launching themselves off a giant ski jump or executing the perfect triple axel on ice, there are still ways we can be just like the athletes competing in Pyeongchang. Pam Rosow, a Registered Dietician and Sports Nutritionist at Hartford HealthCare’s Bone & Joint Institute, answered some questions to explain that although you may not be able to perform like an Olympic athlete, you can fuel your body like one.
Q: What is the most important part of an Olympic athlete’s diet?
A: Without a doubt hydration is the most important thing to consider. Our bodies have an amazing ability to repair themselves and recover after a grueling workout or, like in the Olympics, an extremely physically demanding sport such as Nordic skiing, but we are not able to compensate when we are dehydrated. Staying hydrated is the key to performing well, no matter what your skill level is.
Q. What foods make the best fuel for Olympic athletes?
A: They will usually focus on a variety of healthy, nutrient rich foods like whole grains, lean meats and fruits and vegetables to make sure their bodies are performing at the highest level. Olympic athletes are in it for the long haul, from the hours and hours they spend training to when they compete in an actual event, they need to have carbohydrates available to help them perform because that is the main fuel source for the body. To do this, they need to eat every couple of hours to keep their blood sugar and glycogen levels stable. This is something everyone watching at home can do as well!
Q: What are other lessons we can learn from how Olympians eat?
A: I have worked with many world class athletes and every one of them is incredibly balanced in regards to their diet. One lesson I give to the people I work with is that you don’t want to control the foods you eat so much that they control you, meaning you don’t want to be too restrictive, but rather, make sure you have a balanced diet. It’s OK to spare about t 10 percent of what you eat on guilty pleasures, just make sure you keep a healthy variety. The more variety you have, the healthier and more productive your body will be.”
For more information about sports nutrition, click here.