With the Olympic Games in full swing, the world’s greatest athletes have a lot on their plates… in every sense of the term. But they have to keep an eye on nutrition if they want to be fueled up and stay in tip-top shape (even Michael Phelps doesn’t really eat 12,000 calories a day). ZocDoc dietitian Vanessa Chalmé, RD, weighs in on their most steal-worthy habits:
Habit: Energizing with zucchini soup
Who: Mariel Zagunis (sabre fencing, U.S.)
Why it’s healthy: Zucchini is packed with B-vitamins, which help your body release energy from carbohydrates and protein. You can also get them from dark leafy greens, legumes, nuts, and seeds—variety is key!
Habit: Avoiding nighttime snacking with an evening walk
Who: Lots of 2012 athletes, according to U.S. Olympic Committee Nutritionist Jennifer Gibson, who is training a lot of the Games’ top talent.
Why it’s healthy: According to Chalmé, nighttime snacking can add a lot of calories to your diet and potentially lead to weight gain. A nighttime walk is great—and if it’s nasty out, you can also take a bath, read in bed or knit (you can’t eat if your hands are busy!).
Habit: Fueling up mid-day with sushi
Who: Alicia Coutts (swimming, Australia)
Why it’s healthy: Eating sushi is a great way to get the three macronutrients needed for physical performance (even if you’re not swimming the 4×200 freestyle relay): carbs from the rice, protein from the fish, and fat from the avocado.
Habit: Eating turkey sandwiches with cucumbers instead of condiments
Who: Misty May Treanor (volleyball, U.S.)
Why it’s healthy: For one thing, protein-rich turkey is full of tryptophan, which helps repair and maintain body tissue. And by replacing condiments with cucumbers, you can avoid unnecessary fat, sodium, and sugar. Chalmé also suggests smearing on some avocado spread or hummus, which provide lots of nutrients for the calories.
Image: Hills News