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September 21, 2018
Do you know why athletes prefer certain foods?

Do you know what different is it that athletes do in relation to the rest of the people that are trying to lose weight and follow a healthy diet? Apart from working out on a daily basis, there are actually some more reasons that help them maintain a healthy weight and generally be healthy in their everyday life…

The truth is that they have a schedule -and it is hard for someone to get them out of it! They prefer foods that are macro-rich, usually high in protein and they do not care so much about calories…They eat these foods that will help them improve their performance, give them energy, while they make sure to eat their meals regularly. Even when they want something sweet, they consume it reasonably. They make good food combinations and eat complete meals, for which I have talked to you again here.

The chicken and fish are certainly some of the top foods that they love. However, since I’ve talked to you about these in previous diaries, I will now talk about all the other foods that I think they consume very often…

So, shall we go see which are they in detail?

1. Nuts, tahini, peanut, almond and cashew butter, or any other nut butter, as well as seeds like sunflower, pumpkin, and linseeds.   

Studies have shown that the consumption of nuts or nut butters helps in maintaining a balanced body weight and in feeling full for a longer time. In fact, due to the fibers and the protein that they have, they help in keeping the glucose levels stable. As you understand, it is a lot better to consume something that makes us feel full rather than something – like crackers- that basically gives us many calories, makes us want to consume a bigger quantity, and that does not give us enough nutrients. Well, nuts, nut butters, and seeds are good protein sources and include “good” monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, which contribute to our body’s good health and proper function. Athletes love adding the seeds to breakfast, smoothies, and bars and to plenty of salads too.

Coconut and nut flapjacks with a white chocolate topping

Coconut and nut flapjacks with a white chocolate topping by Greek chef Akis Petretzikis

2. The eggs.

The eggs have all the necessary amino acids, protein, “good” fats and so they are a complete food. They are high in vitamin D, B12, and biotin; vitamins that contribute to the proper function of the nervous system. Athletes love them and eat them quite often, either the egg white alone or the whole egg -even though recent studies support that the cholesterol of an egg does not affect negatively the total cholesterol; on the other hand, they seem to help in maintaining a balanced weight, and in muscle growth, while they provide our body with plenty of vitamins and minerals that are necessary for its proper function.

Spinach with eggs and feta cheese

Spinach with eggs and feta cheese by Greek chef Akis Petretzikis

3. The avocado.

The avocado has become very popular lately, but at least for a good reason. Apart from its rich flavor, it also has “good” monounsaturated fatty acids, fibers, and phytochemicals, while it is rich in vitamins and minerals. It seems that the consumption of avocado is directly linked to the decrease of the metabolic syndrome, while it contributes to a more complete and healthy diet that has positive results for our health. You can add it to one of your meals; either breakfast, lunch, dinner or have it as a spread.

Avocado fried egg salad

Avocado fried egg salad by Greek chef Akis Petretzikis

4.  The yogurt and oats.

The yogurt is another complete food that athletes prefer, either as breakfast or a snack, while they even add it to their salad. It is also rich in protein, makes you feel full for longer, while it improves digestion and helps you in maintaining a good gut health. Moreover, due to the protein that it contains, it helps in the process of protein synthesis and muscle growth – something very important for all athletes.

Most athletes combine it with oats and eat it in the form of porridge – hot or cold. The oats are rich in fibers and make them, also, feel full for longer. It is an ideal breakfast to boost energy levels.

Healthy oatmeal breakfast

Healthy oatmeal breakfast by Greek chef Akis Petretzikis

5. The cocoa.

Cocoa is something that has been in the athletes’ diet for a few years now. They drink it, add it to smoothies, to cereal or protein bars, but also to their breakfast with oats or yogurt. It is rich in antioxidants and catechins, while at the same time, it adds a wonderful taste. Athletes prefer it due to the antioxidants that it contains, both for an energy boost and also, for skin and body protection from free radicals.

Acai bowl with cocoa

Acai bowl with cocoa by Greek chef Akis Petretzikis

So, do you see? Athletes find several alternatives and add constantly to their diet many foods that are very nutritional, contain many vitamins and minerals, and make them feel full for longer or give energy. Look at the recipes above and add them to your eating plan, by taking advantage as many of their benefits as you can!

This article was written in collaboration with Kitchen Lab’s Sports Nutritionist Anna Maria Volanaki, MSc, BDA, SENr.

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