Health Team

Lean proteins, whole grains fuel Olympic strength

Posted February 21, 2014

Olympic athletes burn a lot of calories and have to be careful about how they replace them.

It’s not the amount of food Olympians eat that average Americans should copy, but how often they take a bite, said WakeMed dietitian Shelley Wilkins.

“Most of their day will be broken up into three meals and two to three snacks, which are all moderate in size,” Wilkins said.

Eating moderate-sized meals and small, healthy snacks keeps Olympic athletes – and average eaters – feeling satisfied, helping curb their urges for unhealthy treats.

“Then you’re less likely to splurge on those high-fat, high-sweet foods,” Wilkins said.

The food that fuels Olympic feats isn’t far from what the U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends for all Americans – lean proteins, dairy products such as Greek yogurt and high-fiber, nutrient-dense carbohydrates such as whole grains.

“Some athletes use things like Ensure if they are on the go because this is going to be a complete source of calories and protein,” Wilkins said.

Olympic diets are also rich in fruits and vegetables, a healthy staple that should be on everyone’s plate, Wilkins said.

“Fruit is definitely essential for anybody’s diet,” she said. “Everybody should be doing what we call a plant-strong diet.”


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