Updated: Mar 29, 2019
Whilst doing some research on different food plans that athletes adhere to, I found some very interesting results and some great variety. These different plans weren’t necessarily specific to the sport that the athlete competes in or their physical build, they were instead personalised and tailored to each individual. What I also discovered is just how much these food plans have changed the careers and successes of some household names in sport. I would like to share a few of their dieting stories and plans with you today.
Serena Williams is arguably one of the greatest athletes of all time, winning Grand Slam after Grand Slam. She has been known throughout her career for following a strict nutritional plan, and as a result, was able to make a speedy recovery from the birth of her first child in 2017.
Whilst training to get back to full competitive fitness after her pregnancy, Serena adopted a raw vegan diet. She swapped out sugars, meats and unhealthy carbs for nuts, beans, lentils, quinoa and a plethora of other healthy alternatives. Serena recalled that when she reduced her sugar intake she ‘dropped 10 pounds in a week, and kept on dropping’. However, she still manages to enjoy that sweetness into her food by adding cherry tomatoes and mandarin segments to her salads. There really are so many alternatives to refined sugar which I would recommend, click here to find out more.
Since the birth of her child, Serena has fired back onto the court and reached two finals. She has a truly inspiring story when it comes to changing the way we consume food and demonstrating the benefits!
As a former England Rugby player James Haskell unsurprisingly has a high-calorie diet. Though what is important, and applicable to those of us who aren’t 19 stone of pure muscle, is the way that his food plan consists of high quality and organic products. In fact, one of Haskell’s messages which really resonated with me is that ‘there is no excuse for not having healthy food prepared for the day’. He couldn’t be more right! When we don’t prepare food in advance, or we rush it in the morning, we often end up with a far less healthy and tasty lunch than when we prepare.
Another message which Haskell preaches is ‘go organic, free range and when possible, local’. Haskell once again says ‘there is no excuse, with the options available, for not going organic’. When it comes to what he eats, Haskell eats organic vegetables in all 5 of his daily meals, and these are balanced out with healthy slow energy-releasing carbohydrates (Quinoa, sweet potato and brown rice) and plenty of flaky white fish.
As a professional rugby player Haskell needs plenty of energy, but doesn’t take his in through unhealthy snacks and drinks, instead he utilises healthy and natural sources of fat. He cooks almost everything in coconut oil, this way his intake of those extra calories and sources of fat are coming from a natural source; far healthier than sunflower oil, butter or poor quality olive oil. Haskell has a very healthy approach to food and a great message for all of us; be proactive, always use healthy alternatives and go organic!
Before Djokovic changed his nutritional plan he said he struggled with fatigue, respiratory problems and even blurred vision. He didn’t realise that he wasn’t eating the healthiest way, even though he was convinced that he was. He came from a food culture which was heavy in bread and refined sugar, and until a few years into his professional career, continued to eat these foods with regularity. He was approached by a nutritional therapist, Dr Igor Cetovic, who discovered that Djokovic has a sensitivity to gluten, dairy products and refined sugars.
Since working with his nutritional therapist, Djokovic, needless to say, has seen some astonishing success on the court. He has swapped out white flour-based bread, pasta and pizza for more healthy gluten-free alternatives, such as buckwheat and quinoa. Furthermore, Djokovic has adopted seeds and nuts into his morning, afternoon and evening meals wherever possible. These foods are full of vitamins, antioxidants and protein which are great for recovery after a workout, as well as many other bodily functions. To combat his intolerance to refined sugars, Djokovic has embraced manuka honey as the staple sugar in his diet. This natural alternative is packed full of goodness. To find out more about honey, click here.
All of us can take some inspiration from the way that Djokovic has changed his food consumption. He has become physically healthier and stronger, whilst also revolutionising his on-court success. He attributes this change almost entirely to proactive and healthy nutritional changes.
Personalise and Optimise Your Nutritional Plan
These three athletes all have different dietary requirements and have faced different dietary difficulties. Haskell has to maintain a great deal of food intake without compromising quality, Djokovic can’t eat the foods he was so accustomed to growing up and Serena wanted to make a hasty recovery to full fitness following her pregnancy. What these athletes all have in common though is that they demonstrate the importance of a calculated, healthy and personal plan. In the same way that different athletes eat differently, so must we. If you would like to find out more about the personalised health plans I design for my clients then click here and get in touch.