Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The 'Gold Medal Diet' (for Indian athletes).

2012 Olympic Gold Medal
(Image Courtesy of IOC)

With the Olympics just around the corner, here's wishing all the Indian athletes competing in the London Olympics the 'very best of luck' in their endeavor  for the coveted Gold medal!
With the last leg of training still going on, a gentle reminder to eat a well balanced diet, as diet and good nutrition too play an important role in an athletes quest for Gold.
There are numerous stories in the press after each Olympics about the non-serious attitude at the Olympic village by the Indian contingent. Stories of how the Indian teams gorge on the numerous buffets/foods available, the shopping sprees, the visits to the beauty parlor and the night-outs abound. This is in sharp contrast to the athletes of other countries who have their eyes set on the Olympic Gold and try to stay clear of such temptations (some of whom even go to the level of staying in a private hotel on personal expenses to avoid being distracted)!
Since most in the Indian team cannot afford such luxuries,here are some tips on eating and staying healthy at the games village:
  • Choose whole grains for your meals: Carbohydrates should come from whole grains like brown rice, whole wheat breads, rolled/steel cut oats (avoid instant), whole wheat rotis instead of maida naan/roomali rotis (Indian food is a local favorite in London,so I won't be surprised if there is a section of Indian delicacies), whole wheat pastas. If the latest press release on the Indian teams food choices is accurate, then please note that fast food (read burgers) by the (in)-famous 'evil clown' chain is NOT A GOOD CHOICE!! 
  •  Include high quality proteins every day: chicken,fish, eggs, and for the vegetarians, pulses/beans, soy and soy products(tofu, soy milk), skimmed milk, yogurt must be a part of each meal as exercise/training tends to increase the bodies protein requirement. Avoid eating only protein foods as this can lead to dehydration.
  • Avoid fried foods: french fries, fried chicken (or other non-veg foods), chips, burgers,  must be at the minimum as fatty foods takes a long time to digest and also tend to make the body sluggish. The best way to get your fats is to include healthy fats from nut butters (peanut/almond/sunflower seeds and such), various nuts, fish (a good way to get your omega-3's).
  • Avoid overeating on desserts: The dessert section is a big temptation to all-leave that for your victory meal (after you win the medal). Moreover these can lead to fluctuations in your blood sugar levels and also create a surge in the insulin in your blood. Stick to eating fruits for dessert as that will ensure that you get your fiber as well as various vitamins and minerals. Fruits like bananas and oranges are great for adding the much needed potassium to your diet.
  • Drink plenty of water: keeping yourself hydrated is the key. Avoid soft drinks/aerated /fizzy drinks and alcohol. Sports drinks during your event can be a good alternative to replace the sodium lost through sweat.
  •  Avoid caffeine: although there seems to be a controversy on whether caffeine is dehydrating or not, it is best to avoid it at the moment and experiment with it later after you get back home. 
  • Get adequate rest and sleep: The late night movies, parties, music bars can be checked out after your events. It is most important to give your body the necessary rest required after the day's training.
Think twice before you gorge on the wrong food- you have trained for years to be selected for the Olympics, so why give up your dream?
Nothing is IMPOSSIBLE, for the word itself says "I'M POSSIBLE" !!! So, on your marks, get set and GO....get the Gold Medal!


Home Cooked Oriya Food said...

Here is wishing the team "All the Best" Any medal is an awesome treat!

Sweta (My Indian Dietitian) said...

@HCOF-very true!! Fingers crossed :)