Eating like an Olympian

Athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics understand the importance of good nutrition. USDA’s MyPlate is a great resource that is available to help anyone eat a healthy, well balanced diet.

Over 2,800 athletes from around the world have been training to be in tip-top shape for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. When you watch these athletes compete in the various skating, skiing and snowboarding events, do you ever wonder what they eat?

The majority of Olympic athletes have trainers and dietitians that monitor their diet very carefully. However, if you take the time to research this subject more closely, one thing is consistently evident – successful athletes take their nutritional intake very seriously.

Of course most of us probably don’t work with a personal trainer or dietician, but there are resources available to help us eat a healthier and balanced diet. U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) MyPlate is a great guide that uses the five food groups as building blocks to a healthy diet. MyPlate recommends the following:

  • Balance your calories – enjoy your food, eat less and avoid oversized portions
  • Increase your intake of certain foods – make half your plate fruits and vegetables, half your grains whole and switch to fat-free or low-fat (1%) milk
  • Reduce your intake of foods high in sodium
  • Drink water instead of sugary drinks

If you or a family member is physically active or competes athletically, Michigan State University Extension recommends:

  • Drinking an increased amount of water – water is an important nutrient and should be drank before, during and after workouts.
  • Eating a diet rich in carbohydrates – carbs provide energy to your body.
  • A well balanced diet – eating foods from the five food groups will provide all the vitamins and minerals needed for peak performance.
  • Foods with iron – iron supplies oxygen to your muscles. Make sure to see a doctor if you tire easily or don’t feel you have the stamina necessary for your selected activity.
  • Foods with dairy – calcium is important for strong bones and proper muscle function.
  • Watching your calories – caloric intake should be based on your age, gender and activity level.

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