Gold Medal Nutrition: Eat Like an Olympian

A total of 26,640 beds have been booked, 12,180 lunches have been eaten, 5,400 bananas were munched and that was just to get the Olympic torch to London!

To make it to the 2012 Olympics, athletes not only train their bodies and their minds to perfection, they must hone in on their nutrition. They know that what they eat can make a difference in Olympic gold. Training and competing in the Olympics involves a tremendous amount of hard work, dedication and perseverance.

Eating a healthy diet sufficient in nutrients and calories to fuel training is the key component and may just be the deciding factor in that tenth of a second that distinguishes a gold medal from silver. These athletes know firsthand how to eat and drink for optimal performance and recovery.

More: How to Adjust Your Nutrition on Race Day

Olympians Eat Breakfast Daily

Olympians consume their first meal approximately 30 minutes after waking up. Our bodies become insulin sensitive after eating breakfast. Insulin sensitivity refers to how well the body responds to the hormone insulin. When you eat most of your calories earlier in the day, the total caloric intake throughout the day actually decreases.

Starting the day with protein is a good choice. When consuming lean protein in the morning choose omega-3 rich eggs or egg whites; low-fat, organic dairy; lean and clean breakfast meats; as well as the high protein, whole grains like steel cut oatmeal or quinoa.

More: Are You Eating the Right Breakfast?

Olympians Eat Organic

Foods which are not organic may be toxic and pose severe health risks to people as well as hinder athletic performance. Avoid the most contaminated fruits and vegetables by purchasing organic versions. "The Dirty Dozen" list of fruits and vegetables was put together by the Environmental Working Group, this list includes apples, celery, bell peppers, peaches, strawberries, nectarines, grapes, spinach, lettuce, cucumber, blueberries and potatoes—some of the most contaminated fruits and vegetables.

Olympians Eat Small, Frequent Meals

The Olympic season is considered peak season for athletes. They should fuel often, eating every four hours. By keeping a regular meal schedule athletes can prevent fatigue and reduce injury risk. During competition the most rapid use of fuel, regardless of intensity occurs during the first 20 to 30 minutes. The goal of athlete's during competition is to provide macronutrients and calories to sustain the activity. Athletes need proper nutrition to prevent glycogen depletion, enhance their immune function, reduce muscle damage, and speed muscle recovery.

More: Top Marathon Recovery Foods

Olympians Hydrate Often

When entering competition fully hydrated, chances are athletes will be able to perform better. Fluid requirements vary from person to person, so the best way to stay adequately hydrated is to stick to a schedule. Different from Olympians, most of us only require approximately 11 to 15 cups of water daily, according to the Institute of Medicine. Choose to drink filtered water were many of the dangerous contaminants have been removed.

More: 15 Hydration Facts for Athletes

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