Just a little while ago, two fencing coaches from New York traveled to Naples, Italy to start their Mediterranean Diet study and how it affects the overall performance of athletes. It was a six month long study and its focus is to promote the benefits of the Mediterranean diet to athletes and how much more beneficial it is than fast food.

It is a well-known fact that the Mediterranean diet has a long, long list of health benefits but are any of these especially helpful for athletes?

It’s In the History

  • The first Olympic Games can be traced back to 776 BC in Greece.
  • Greece is one of the primary countries where the Mediterranean diet is based.
  • The Olympics is a series of competitions played by athletes to test endurance, speed and agility.
  • The Ancient Greeks were believed to be athletic and studies show their diet played a huge role in this.
  • In fact, the notion that the Mediterranean diet helps athletes is still so strong that in the last Olympic Games in Beijing, much of their menu featured Mediterranean food.
  • Another example of how athletes believe in the power of the Mediterranean diet is Apolo Ohno, the famous American speed skating gold medalist, who follows this diet strictly- especially when he’s training for the Winter Olympics.

An Athlete’s Mediterranean Diet

  • Athletes use significant carbohydrates for energy during an event or competition. They also need proteins to repair damaged muscle cells. If an athlete wants a healthy diet that is rich in carbohydrates and proteins, an effective answer is the Mediterranean diet.
  • As we all know, this diet is all about healthy fats, whole grains, fresh fruits, vegetables and fish. Since many of these food types have complex carbohydrates, they slow down the digestive system, thus keeping and sustaining a person’s energy level. The ingredients in the Mediterranean diet really do promote endurance.
  • The Mediterranean diet is perfect for runners and triathletes, specifically.

Athlete’s Sample Mediterranean Diet Menu

It is often important for a long-distance runner to have a boost of energy. They also need to be lean and healthy for obvious reasons. The same also applies for other athletes. If you are an athlete who’s considering a healthier and more beneficial option, here’s a sample menu that’s simply Mediterranean.

Breakfast: For breakfast, you should have wholesome cereal (muesli) with natural yoghurt (not flavoured), blueberries and any other sliced or diced fruit you would like to add, a glass of low fat milk or freshly squeezed orange juice (nothing from a bottle), two slices of fiber-rich bread and a handful of almonds or walnuts.

Lunch: For your lunch, you should try boiled potatoes, salmon, steamed vegetables (spinach, broccili, capsicum (peppers) and water.

Snacks: For your afternoon snack, you can go with a protein drink and a banana.

Dinner: For dinner, you can indulge in some whole wheat pasta, skinless chicken breast and steamed vegetables. Use a tomato based sauce – they’re easy to prepare and you can freeze this stuff too. You can also drink a glass of wine (no more than one) if you wish.

Tips for Athletes

Now, if you want are not convinced that the Mediterranean diet is the right diet for you, here are a few more tips from which you can benefit.

  • Moderate to high protein intake
  • Drink lots of water
  • Avoid processed foods
  • Increase daily fiber intake
  •  Take frequent small meals rather than three big ones
  •  *Include fruits, vegetables and nuts in every meal
  • Incorporate fish in your meals at least twice per week
  • Avoid anything “instant” when it comes to food
  • Avoid too much animal fat

I hope you’ve enjoyed this article. If you’ve been invigorated to try some mouth watering, hand selected traditional Mediterranean recipes you can get plenty of Mediterranean diet recipes each month right here.

…keep well and stay fit,

Ray Baker