Top 12 Meals For Athletes

Want to be a serious competitor? A massive part of any athlete's development is nutrition, as well as training, so you must also eat the right foods to get the best from your body. These 12 athletes swear by these meals to eat their way to medal-winning success.

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Bran cereal – Jessica Ennis

One of the biggest enemies of healthy eating are those mid-morning munchies that have you running to the vending machine. To avoid this unwanted hunger before lunch you should eat a meal high in fibre, which superstar heptathlete Jessica Ennis does by eating bran cereal in the morning. Not only does this cereal contain fibre to keep her full for a day of gruelling events, it also boasts an impressive amount of iron, which helps to keep energy levels as high as possible.  

Greek yoghurt with granola - Ashton Eaton

The complex carbohydrates found in granola are essential for giving decathlete Eaton the energy he needs to complete the decathlon. Paired with Greek yogurt, this breakfast will also provide calcium, which is vital for bone strength and protein which is essential for muscle growth and repair. Greek yoghurt and granola is a simple but highly effective meal to kick off the day. If its good enough for an Olympic gold medalist, then it’s good enough for us.  

Grilled chicken – Mo Farah

Like most athletes, Mo Farah is a big believer in getting enough protein, and one way in which he does this is by eating grilled chicken after training sessions. As well as aiding the recovery of his exercise weary muscles because of high protein levels, chicken aIso contains a range of B vitamins, which will give you a great post-workout energy boost. If you want to make this meal as healthy as possible be sure to remove the skin from the chicken, as this drastically reduces the amount of saturated fat in the meat.  

Scrambled eggs and avocado - Lindsey Vonn

Eggs are an easy source of protein for athletes, and alpine skier Lindsey Vonn likes hers with: avocado, cilantro, salsa, mushroom and onions. Avocados are also great for athletes, they are high in monounsaturated (good) fats which help heart health and they also contain folate, vitamins C, E and K which all have anti inflammatory properties to aid faster recovery after exercise. The meal is also quick to prepare making it a perfect option for training.

Pasta – Andy Murray

Did you know that Andy Murray has to eat a staggering 6,000 calories a day to meet the enormous energy demands of professional tennis? Obviously these calories have to come from healthy sources, including a variety of pasta dishes. The carbohydrates in pasta help to top up energy levels, and when served with lean meats such as chicken and turkey, this will also promote muscle recovery and strength development. To make this dish even healthier, serve it with whole wheat pasta to enjoy the added benefits of more fibre, iron and folic acid.  

Peanut butter and jelly sandwich - Peter Vanderkaay

A lot of people assume peanut butter is an unhealthy snack because of its sweet taste. However, as long as it’s a natural type that’s low in sugar and sodium, peanut butter makes for a great healthy meal because it contains magnesium (to aid bone development) and is a good source of healthy unsaturated fats. The combination of peanut butter and jam on a sandwich is a favourite of the American swimmer and provides protein, B vitamins, iron and zinc. You could also add bananas to the sandwich to increase the potassium intake.  

Fruit smoothie – Chris Hoy

If you can’t stomach a full meal first thing in the morning when you’ve just woken up, then you should consider following in the footsteps of gold medal winning track cyclist Chris Hoy by having a healthy fruit smoothie. As well as being delicious and simple to make, smoothies are filled to the brim with antioxidants, as well as calcium and vitamins. Be sure to include apples in the smoothie as they have been proven to help maintain and improve cardiovascular health.    

Beans on toast – Tom Daley

All too often people complain that they are simply too busy to eat healthily. If anyone can dispel the truth in that excuse, it’s champion diver Tom Daley. Despite his packed schedule Tom always finds the time to eat healthily, and one meal he swears by is beans on toast. Quick and easy to prepare, this dish is a fantastic source of energy because of the low Glycemic Index of baked beans. This means that the energy will be slowly released over time to keep you performing at your best for longer.  

Salad sandwich – Sally Pearson

Although it might not be the most exciting lunch ever, a salad sandwich it is a firm favorite of the successful Australian hurdler. Especially if eaten on wholemeal bread, the lunch will provide a good source of fibre, vitamin B and E. If there’s watercress, spinach and romaine between the bread then you will also benefit from vitamin K, A, C, magnesium and folate which aid muscle function, strengthen the immune system and build bone strength.  

Avocado with salmon – Paula Radcliffe

Running 26.2 miles with a poor diet behind you would be tricky to say the least, but to do so at the speed Paula Radcliffe runs a marathon would be competitive suicide. Paula’s diet is meticulously planned, and one healthy meal she comes back to time and time again is avocado topped with salmon. As well as muscle-building protein, salmon contains high levels of Omega-3, which is great for keeping your mind sharp. Underneath all those tasty health benefits you’ve got the avocado, which is a veritable heart-healing, vitamin-filled super fruit. What could be better?  

Three fried-egg sandwiches –  Michael Phelps

The American swimmer consumes a staggering 12,000 calories a day. The average man consumes an average of 2,500 calories a day to put Phelps’ colossal intake into perspective. To start his day, Phelps eats three fried egg sandwiches with cheese, tomato, lettuce, fried onions and mayo. But his breakfast doesn’t stop there. Next comes: one five egg omelet, one bowl of grits (maize based porridge), three slices of French toast topped with powdered sugar and three chocolate chip pancakes washed down with two cups of coffee. The substantial breakfast contains many vital vitamins and minerals including protein from the eggs and B vitamins from the grits.  

Ackee and saltfish – Usain Bolt

The fastest man in the world starts his day with the traditional Jamaican dish of ackee and saltfish, served with dumplings, cooked banana, yellow yam and potato. This meal provides the runner with protein, potassium, fibre and carbohydrates. The yams present in the dish are also something of a superfood. Only 177 calories per cup, they contain 34 per cent of daily required vitamin C intake, 40 per cent vitamin B6 and 26 per cent of daily potassium requirement. If this dish had anything to do with Bolt setting a 9.36 second world record for the 100 meter sprint then it must be good.

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