BESTFIT Issue 14 – Food of Champions
olympic & world 100m & 200m champion
His secret is… Vegetables. Would you believe it? Bolt has only gone and knocked the chicken nuggets on the head. And it would appear to be working; he clocked 9.79s in the 100m at this year’s World Championship, the fastest of his season, and claims he’ll only get faster as he travels down the Road to Rio.
The fastest man in the world is still human, though, admitting to CNN he occasionally relapses: “It’s hard to just walk away and not slip up sometimes. So it happens, but I try to not make it happen regularly. I try to just contain myself as much as possible.”
two-time formula one world championship driver
His secret is… Protein, protein and more protein. We know Formula One drivers are extremely fit, but none more so than Lewis Hamilton. His recent transformation is one to behold, and he credits his leaner, more chiseled physique to limiting carbs and going hard on whole proteins.
Chicken and white fish feature heavily in lunch and dinner, while his breakfast consists of a homemade protein shake with dried fruit. Not that he thinks much of it though; he says it is “punishment” watching others get stuck in to the pastries at breakfast.
two-time tour de France winner
His secret is… Fruit Juices. Team Sky dietician Nigel Mitchell encourages Froome and Co. to drink using a “positive hydration strategy”. This means riders drink dilute fruit juices a lot of the time to boost nutrient intake without filling their stomachs with unnecessary bulk.
Froome will also drink plenty of vegetable juice, with Mitchell estimating Team Sky will use up to 20kg of the green stuff per Grand Tour. Solid fruit and veg is also pushed for its high vitamin content.
European 800m champion
Her secret is… Almond milk. Lynsey made the switch to almond milk after being slightly weirded-out over the thought of drinking another animal’s milk. Over-thinking it, maybe, but almond milk’s health benefits are plentiful.
For example, almonds contain riboflavin, a form of vitamin B that when combined with an iron-rich diet (Lynsey follows a scaled-down version of the Paleo diet, see p49), which has been proven to increase muscle strength and growth. Almond milk is also lactose free and bountiful in vitamins and minerals vital for maintaining a healthy heart, kidneys and immune system.
2012 olympic silver medallist swimmer
His secret is… Red meat, and lots of it. Red meat is rich in heme iron, which not only helps the body maintain a healthy immune system, but also improves proficient oxygen transportation in red blood cells. An iron deficiency in Michael would limit the amount of oxygen transported to the muscles, severely affecting his performance in the water.
Rich sources of heme iron include organ meats (liver or kidneys), red meats, poultry and fish, and Michael likes going a bit wilder, too, saying he has enjoyed crocodile and shark meat.
female surfing champion
Her secret is… Oatmeal. Alanna is vegan, so is essentially restricted in terms of what she can eat whole-protein wise, but gathers sufficient protein and carbohydrates with oatmeal.
With its low glycemic index, oatmeal stops your blood sugar from spiking, leaving you feeling fuller for longer. As low glycemic carbs are slowly released into the blood stream, they’re ideal for endurance athletes, too. Alanna can’t resist cereal bars, however. We guess, they count, right?
world champion boxer
His secret is… Don’t deprive yourself. James makes no secret of his love of burgers and believes that striking the right balance between naughty and nice is essential for your wellbeing.
“I only start dieting properly two to three weeks before a fight,” he says. “The intensity of my training beforehand means it just comes off and I only diet to shift that last little bit.” While he won’t exactly be stuffing his face with Big Macs, he eats what he wants within reason. After fight night, well… anything goes.
2014 London marathon winner
His secret is… Keeping it in the family. The Kenyan long-distance runner doesn’t actually have a nutritionist – his wife does it all for him. She prepares him typical Southern African food, where carbohydrates play a significant role.
Before a marathon, Kipsang will load up on dishes such as ugali – a dough made from maize flour and water – which is rich in starch, a form of slow-release carbohydrate that consistently fuels the body over longer periods of time. Perfect if you’re looking to run a sub three hour marathon.
European gymnast champion
His secret is… Oily fish. Mackerel, tuna and salmon all provide the 22-year-old gymnast with fantastic amounts of protein, which is vital for building and repairing muscle. They’re also one of the best sources of omega-3 fatty acids, which are important for proper brain function, maintaining the immune system and, as some studies suggest, protecting from certain cancers.
“A gymnast’s diet is very high in protein,” he tells us. “We need to think about recovery and less about high energy.” There you go; straight from the pommel horse’s mouth.
two-time fifa ballon d’or winner
His secret is… Eating little and often. The world’s greatest player insists on eating up to six times a day to keep him sufficiently fuelled. Meals include plenty of meat and fish, with Portuguese dish bacalhau à braz (salted cod, eggs and potato) a favourite.
Eating smaller meals that contain sugar can in fact be very good for you, as fructose is quickly metabolised by the body. Don’t overdo it though; the emphasis is placed on quality and not quantity.