Tokyo Olympics: Food hacks for the athlete

Some nutrition hacks that Tokyo-bound athletes should consider to follow to enhance their performance and recovery.

Uncertainty still surrounds the Tokyo Olympics as we move into the final phase of the preparation. It is a difficult time for athletes, but they are putting in efforts to be tournament-ready. While athletes step up their training and practice, here are some nutrition hacks that they should consider to follow to enhance their performance and recovery.

Tomato

Lycopene is a red pigment found in tomatoes that has been proven in studies to improve lung function. Athletes will be able to take in more oxygen while training as a result of this. It’s better to cook tomatoes instead of eating them raw as lycopene levels are greater in cooked tomatoes. Eat tomatoes without it seeds. I advise my athletes to have tomato juice on an empty stomach soon after they get up in morning. Lycopene takes five-six weeks to come into effect. Hence, it’s a good time to start now.

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Beetroot

Beetroot is well-known for its ability to enhance athletic performance. It contains nitrates, which aid vasodilatation, or the ability of your blood vessels to expand to a bigger size. When an athlete trains, this means big blood vessels provide more oxygen, glucose, salts and amino acids to the muscles while also eliminating more carbon dioxide and lactic acid. Supplementing your diet with beetroot reduces exercise weariness and enhances blood oxygen saturation, according to research. Eat beetroot in the form of halwa, chips, juice, Stuffed paratha and subzi.

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Eggs

A small but powerful food. If you are not vegetarian, my advice is to eat four-six eggs daily. A hard-training athlete’s protein needs range from 1.2gm to 2gm per kg of body weight, and eggs are great source to meet those needs. Vitamin B complex as well as selenium, a potent antioxidant mineral, are found in eggs. Athletes’ muscles are subjected to significant microscopic stress on a regular basis. The combination of high-quality proteins and vitamins aids in the healing process. Cook your eggs. Raw eggs prevent Vitamin B complex from being digested, resulting in a decrease in protein synthesis in the body.

 

Glutamine

Glutamine is an amino acid that plays a role in the body’s metabolism. It is one of the most basic protein units, accounting for 60 percent of an athlete’s muscular mass. As a result, when you exercise really hard, you tear down muscles. For the next intense training session, you must mend and heal. Glutamine is beneficial to both the muscles and the immune system. As a result, when an athlete overworks, his or her glutamine stores are depleted. Starting Glutamine around six weeks before a competition is a good idea since it protects against reduced immunity, which can lead to a cold or fever.

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Charge up!

An athlete needs energy to function at any level: energy to play, think, sleep and recover. Here are list of foods to help maintain your energy levels.

Shakarkandi/Sweet potato

Include sweet potato in your diet as it helps recharge muscle glycogen reserves very quickly. A great source of Vitamin A, it aids in improved lung function, increased lung capacity and the activation of the athlete’s immune system. Eat it as soup, paratha or halwa.

Khajur/Dates

This little fruit is portable, convenient to handle and heavily filled with iron, calcium, potassium and other nutrients. No wonder ancient soldiers carried it to the battlefield! Long hours of exercise are the greatest time to consume 8-10 dates. Athletes do become hungry and need to eat something with a lot of energy reserves. When athletes experience weariness due to low haemoglobin or iron levels, they should switch to a high date snacking meal!

 

Bananas

Bananas can be consumed prior to, during or after exercise. Bananas contain dopamine, which has been demonstrated to help athletes relax. When an athlete trains hard, his or her blood pressure rises, making it difficult for him or her to think effectively. Bananas keep your head cool while also providing energy to your muscles. The fibre in bananas aids in the growth of specific bacteria in the stomach, which aids in the digestion of all foods and promotes regular bowel movements.

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Recovery is as important as training

Athletes must perform at their peak every time they step on to the field. Recovery helps the body to heal and strengthen itself, allowing athletes to give their utmost in every session or match. It also lowers the chances of an injury occurring. Here are some of the foods that you must include in your diet to recover faster.

Rajma/Kidney beans

The king of beans. When rajma and rice are combined, a player gets a full amino acid profile. Kidney beans contribute to muscle synthesis by providing amino acids, which are the building blocks of protein. Many players’ blood sugar levels fluctuate, lowering focus. Kidney beans’ fibre and amylase inhibitors aid to keep blood sugar levels in check. To avoid gas formation, make sure the beans are fully cooked for at least 15 minutes in a pressure cooker.

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Channa/Chickpea

Chickpeas, both black and white, have a protein content of roughly 19 percent. Chickpeas contain a high folic acid concentration, which can help athletes create red blood cells quicker. The majority of athletes who engage in high-intensity exercise harm their blood and DNA. Chickpeas, eaten on a daily basis, aid in rapid healing and rehabilitation. An evening channa chat snack is a good time to get some protein dosage. When travelling abroad, you can get channa in your diet in the form of hummus.

Pineapples

Bromelain, an enzyme found in pineapples, has been demonstrated to improve the efficiency at which the human body absorbs dietary protein. It also aids in the reduction of inflammation and muscular discomfort.

Carrots

Carrots’ orange colour comes from beta-carotene, which aids in recovery. Vitamin K is a clotting agent that aids in the formation of blood clots. Athletes get hurt, and Vitamin K helps them heal quickly. Cooked carrots are excellent for nutritional absorption.

 

On the road

Travel is an unavoidable aspect of life for many athletes, but it may also create a variety of dietary concerns. Whether you’re travelling overseas or domestically for competitions, the idea is to look after your body so you can perform at your best. My favourite foods to carry while travelling are beets, eggs, almonds, cheese and carrots. In addition to foods, you might want to some equipment as a backup in case you don’t get the desired food.

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Rice cooker

Convenient and easy to use. You can use a rice cooker to make different dishes in your room to have safe and nutritious meal. Cooking oatmeal or muesli is another option. When compared to eating a meal, soups containing broths allow a weary athlete to consume three times the calories. When travelling, you may make rice puddings, poached pears and even a chocolate cake in a rice cooker!

Egg boiler

This can easily connected to any electrical outlet in the room. Put your eggs in, add a little water, and every form of egg may be cooked in a few minutes, much as in a little kettle. A complete meal is represented by an egg. It has the highest protein and fat content of any meal and is widely accessible across the world.

Weighing scale

Measure how much you eat. You’ll need 100gm of chicken to acquire 20gm of protein. But how much is 100gm chicken? What does it look like? While staying at a hotel, order the food in your room and carefully measure them so that you know that you are not over- or under-eating.

Hand blender

You can easily have access to fruits and curd/yogurt while travelling. Carrying a hand blender will allow you to quickly make a smoothie for yourself. Making smoothies is the ideal quick-fix, high-energy, supercharged protein option to refuel your body with nourishment.

Winning an Olympic medal depends on your preparation and planning, and nutrition needs the most detailed planning as it will align your body, mind, emotions and gut to give your best performance.

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