Flip through your channels over the next few weeks and you'll see lots of coverage of the 2016 Rio Olympic games. Lean, mean athletic machines will be back-flipping on balance beams, spiking volley balls across courts and swimming around pools in perfect synchronization. (Yep, we can do that too!)
Along with intense regular training and a fierce commitment to go for gold, what else makes an Olympic athlete a champion? You guessed it...their DIET!
What are some key elements?
Protein. Like lean meats, poultry, fish, legumes and eggs. The basic building material for muscle tissue, protein actually strengthens and repairs muscles after an intense training session. When eaten several hours prior, protein not only helps protect an athlete's muscles from damage during a workout, but also provides amino acids so they can build more lean muscle.
Carbs. No we're not talking about pastries from the local bakery! We mean good, complex carbs like lentils, beans, brown rice and quinoa. What makes them good? They are made up of longer chain sugars that take more time for the body to break down than simple carbs, which keeps the body's energy consistent throughout the day. Carbs are actually stored as glycogen in the muscles, and for athletes, this provides energy for short intense activity.
Fats. The healthy kind, also known as polyunsaturated fats, are found in plant-based oils like soybean and sunflower, as well as in walnuts and fatty fish like salmon, mackerel and trout. Not only do these fats lower bad cholesterol levels and add much-needed vitamin E to the diet, but they also slow digestion. From an athlete's perspective, this maintains even insulin and blood glucose levels, also helping to keep energy constant.
But, you don't have to be competing at Rio to eat like an Olympic athlete. Actually, you just have to be a Five Star customer! Why? Because we deliver dozens of varieties of portion controlled lean protein right into your freezer. From steaks, roasts and bison, to wild caught seafood, chicken and lamb, we have a delicious protein to suit every taste. Just combine it with some good carbs and fats....and voila`, you'll be eating like a Rio athlete in no time!
For some Olympic inspiration in the kitchen, try your hand at these recipes:
African Chicken in Spicy Red Sauce
**This is a favorite dish of Krista Austin, a performance nutritionist who works with the USA Taekwondo team, as well as various Olympic marathon runners and swimmers. According to Austin, the most important aspect of an athlete's food is the flavor, and they love interesting cultural dishes filled with unique spices.
1. Place chicken in a shallow dish; drizzle with juice, and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cover and marinate in refrigerator 30 minutes.
2. Heat a Dutch oven over medium heat. Coat pan with cooking spray.
3. Add onion and garlic; cook 5 minutes (do not brown), stirring frequently.
4. Add 2 teaspoons Berbere, remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, butter, ginger, nutmeg, and cardamom; cook 1 minute.
5. Add wine, broth, and tomato paste; stir until well blended.
6. Add chicken mixture; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 50 minutes or until chicken is tender, turning chicken occasionally. Stir in cilantro.
7. Serve with lemon wedges.
Tuna - Guacamole Tacos
** A favorite recipe of Adam Korzun, sport dietician for the US Ski and Snowboard teams, he likes to create "familiar comfort foods with a healthy, performance-inspired twist" for his athletes.
1. Combine the onion, lime juice, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and avocados.
2. Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat; coat pan with cooking spray. Sprinkle tuna with remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt.
3. Add tuna to pan; cook 4 minutes on each side or to desired degree of doneness.
4. Cut tuna into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Warm tortillas according to the package directions. Divide avocado mixture evenly among tortillas. Divide tuna evenly among tortillas.
** Sports dietician Tavis Piattoly, who works with Olympic sprinter Kelly-Ann Baptiste, recommends this delicious, protein-dense recipe to maximize her performance.
1 pound of browned Five Star extra lean ground beef or ground turkey breast
1 bag shredded carrots
1 can drained spicy pinto or kidney beans
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped green pepper
1 chopped tomato
1 cup chopped celery
1 bottle low-sodium tomato juice
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1. Combine all ingredients in a pot.
2. Simmer 30 minutes until the veggies are tender.
Are you an athlete? Do you prepare high-protein recipes to help with your performance? Ever with Five Star ingredients?
Tell us about them here!