Good nutrition – it’s not just for Olympians!
You don’t need to be an Olympian to understand the importance of good nutrition. Resources such as MyPlate can help anyone eat a healthy, well-balanced diet.
Two thousand athletes from around the world have been busy training in the pool, gym and on the court to be in top shape for the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. When you watch your favorite Olympic event on television, do you ever wonder what these athletes eat?
The majority of Olympic athletes have trainers and dieticians that monitor their diet very carefully. However, if one takes the time to research this subject more closely, one thing is consistently evident: successful athletes take their nutritional intake very seriously.
Most of us don’t have the luxury of working with a personal trainer or dietician, but there are resources available to help us eat a healthy and more balanced diet. The U.S. Department of Agricultures’s MyPlate is a wonderful guide that uses the five food groups as building blocks to a healthy diet.
MyPlate recommends the following dietary guidelines:
- Balance your calories – enjoy your food, eat less and avoid oversized portions
- Increase your intake of certain foods – make half your plate fruits and vegetables, half your grains whole grains and switch to fat-free or low-fat (1 percent) milk.
- Reduce your intake of foods high in sodium
- Drink water instead of sugary drinks
If you or a family member is physically active or competes athletically, the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition (PCFSN) has “Fast Facts about Sports Nutrition.” PCFSN makes the following recommendations for physically active people:
- Drink more water – water is an important nutrient and should be drank before, during and after workouts.
- Eat a diet that is rich in carbohydrates – carbohydrates provide energy to your body.
- Eat a well-balanced diet – if you eat foods from all five food groups, you should have all the vitamins and minerals needed for peak performance.
- Eat foods with iron (iron supplies oxygen to your muscles) – see a doctor if you tire easily or don’t have the stamina that is necessary for your selected activity.
- Eat enough dairy – calcium is important for strong bones and proper muscle function.
- Watch your calories – caloric intake should be based on your age, gender and activity level.