Even though most of us aren't training for at least four hours a day like Olympic athletes, we can still learn a lot about diet based on what they're eating.
No, I don't want to be an Olympic athlete, but maintaining my figure and gaining strength would be nice -- especially at the ripe age of 24 because it will basically be downhill from here health-wise. I'm pretty healthy as is, but there's always room for improvement.
Here are some of the lessons we can learn based on the careful ways Olympic athletes eat and the ways the think about what they're putting into their bodies.
More exercise means more food.
According to dieticians who work with Olympic athletes like Catherine Naulleau and Nanci Guest, the more you move the more you have to fuel up.
Makes sense, right? But if we all actively thought about that factor when we ate, there would probably be less obesity in this country. It's not easy.
Olympic athletes have to eat a ton of carbs to stay energized, especially the swimmers and runners. But people who favor less rigorous workout routines should be eating foods rich in protein and lots of vegetables.
Not all Olympic athletes are eating the same things. Long distance runners feast on rice, pasta and other high-carb foods in the days leading up to a race and then eat something digestible the morning of, like oatmeal. But that diet wouldn't work for weightlifters, who need to eat protein-rich foods many times throughout the day like yogurt, eggs, chicken and protein shakes.
The takeaway here is to think about what type of exercise you actually do and be honest with yourself how often you're actually moving around. Adjust your diet accordingly and you should see results or at least feel healthier.
Eat smart to be at your best.
Fuel doesn't mean whatever food is at an arm's length away from you. Eating smart means eating foods that will help your body. Olympians need to get a lot of bang for their bite. So no, they're not eating muffins every day.
Everything they eat has to help them build strength, repair muscle and have the energy to be at the top of their game.
Even if you're not an Olympic athlete, it's pretty important to make conscious diet choices to be at the top of your game at all times. It doesn't matter if you work in an office or not, choosing the right foods makes a huge difference in energy level and brain function. Just being more aware of what you eat can lead to a healthier you, so try using a food log.
Everyone has a cheat meal to keep diet manageable.
When it comes to cheat meals, they're just like us. They go for Oreos, ice cream, Mexican food, pancakes, pizza and just about everything else you could possibly want.
Most people don't have a dietician telling them exactly what to eat, which is why it's harder for regular people to control the food that goes into their mouths. Self-control doesn't exactly make the best nutritionist. So don't beat yourself up when you can't seem to stay away from the peanut M&M's like I struggled to this weekend. Oops.
Cheat meals are good for you, Olympic athlete or not.
Most of us will never become Olympic athletes, but that doesn't mean we have to live and eat like we don't care. The main thing we can learn from these practices is to make more calculated decisions to eat in a way that benefits how you live your life.