Healthy Hollywood: Fab Food Friday – Olympians' Winning Diet Secrets!

McKayla Maroney, Kyla Ross, Aly Raisman, Gabrielle Douglas and Jordyn Wieber of Team USA celebrate after winning the gold medal in the Artistic Gymnastics Women's Team final at the London 2012 Olympic Games on July 31, 2012 McKayla Maroney, Kyla Ross, Aly Raisman, Gabrielle Douglas and Jordyn Wieber of Team USA celebrate after winning the gold medal in the Artistic Gymnastics Women's Team final at the London 2012 Olympic Games on July 31, 2012

Olympic athletes undeniably have some of the best bodies on the planet! Considering the level of competition, these athletes can’t afford to be in anything but superior shape. While, their physical training is beyond comprehension for us mere mortals, their nutrition plan is also closely regulated.

So, what does it take to fuel an athlete to Olympic-worthy status? U.S. Olympic committee nutritionist Jennifer Gibson recently revealed this about the U.S. Women’s gymnastics team’s diet, “They have a whole food-based diet that’s very, very natural: regular meals, fresh fruits, nuts and seed, veggies.” Rarely does the fab five – or most athletes - rely on supplements or miracle performance pills.

Nutrition expert Amy Hendel reveals to Healthy Hollywood that Olympians need to perform optimally – day and night – so there’s no margin of error when it comes to good nutrition. “They need foods that keep them healthy, maintain and build muscle mass, provide on demand energy to support training and replenish energy stores when depleted,” adds Amy.
Gymnasts can hover around 2000 calories daily, while Michael Phelps famously revealed his 12 thousand calories a day diet. Yet, for all athletes, whole/natural foods make up the majority of their diet. No processed foods or sodas for these determined warriors!

Amy shared with Healthy Hollywood a few of the athletes winning diet secrets!

1. Gluten-Free:
Tennis sensation Novak Djokovic went gluten-free a year and a half ago and his game has been on a winning streak ever since. Diagnosed with a gluten allergy, Novak stays from most processed carbohydrates. “I have lost some weight but it’s only helped me because my movement is much sharper now and I feel great physically,” the tennis great has said.

2. Peanut Butter:
Swimming sensation Ryan Lochte is a big fan of peanut butter. He reportedly has two peanut butter sandwiches, along with a glass of milk before he goes to bed. “It is full of filling, healthy fat and plant-based protein. Plus, it’s best to have minimally processed peanut butter,” adds Amy.

3. Smoothies:
Smoothies are go-to food for many athletes. They’re easy to digest and can be packed with protein, vitamins, and antioxidants from fruits and vegetables. Beach volleyball player Phil Dalhausser combines milk, goji berries, cacao powder, flaxseed, acai berries, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, spinach and kale into his powerhouse smoothie. “Because it’s a liquid it digests a bit more easily so you can time it closer to workouts without digestive issues,” adds Amy.

4. Turkey & Veggie Sandwich:
They’re quick and easy to make and are simply to carry and available no matter where you train. “Whole grain bread, sautéed, grilled or fresh vegetables, mustard or vegetarian mayonnaise provides the right mix of protein, whole grain, carbs and vegetables high in nutrients,” states Amy.

For more nutrition tips, head to Amy’s blog at www.healthgal.com

-- Terri MacLeod

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