BY POPSUGAR.COM/ DOMINIQUE ASTORINO
Few athletes have more challenging and rigorous workout schedules than an Olympic athlete. From two-a-day weight-training sessions to multiple swim sessions each day to 32 hours a week of performance practices — it's anything but easy when you're going for gold.
But if you don't take a rest, you're doing your body more harm than good. To keep their bodies in peak physical form, Olympians have to put as much into their recovery as they do into their workouts — and we should take heed! We chatted with gold medalist swimmer Natalie Coughlin about her training-recovery secrets, and we were thrilled to know that we can incorporate them into our everyday (read: NOT Olympic) workout schedule, too!
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BY MENSHEALTH.COM/ ERIC BENSON
Hint: Get more Vitamin C. And fats like pasture-raised bacon. But, if you're Tom Brady, that means no more tomatoes or mushrooms.
“Everybody has always looked at food as fuel,” says Tim DiFrancesco, the L.A. Lakers’ strength and conditioning coach. “But now we’re realizing that food is also potentially medicine—or the opposite.”
DiFrancesco, widely known as “Grass-fed Tim” (a moniker bestowed on him by 36-year-old Metta World Peace), is evangelical about the benefits of certain foods not only for overall health but also for the recovery process of aging athletes.
One of his biggest battles is against inflammation. But he doesn’t fight it with heaps of anti-inflammatory pills—he fights it with diet.
For example: sugars and hydrogenated oils are very much out—“They can not only create inflammation, they can also make your supporting structures more fragile and brittle on a cellular level,” he says—and healthy fats, particularly avocado and coconut oil, are in. “They’re not going to add to inflammation, and they’re going to give you a lot of good energy.” And for a full-out assault on inflammation, DiFrancesco has his players scarf up the leafy greens of their choice.
This whole-foods approach (which, for the Lakers, is actually catered by Whole Foods) will sound familiar to anyone who’s heard of Paleo; but the best aging pro athletes take it to another level.
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady reportedly eats a diet carefully calibrated to be 80% alkaline and 20% acidic; he also steers clear of night-shades—tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, eggplants—because they don’t have anti-inflammatory properties. In Dallas, Dirk Nowitzki bullet-proofs his joints with a different approach: 1g of vitamin C mixed with 5g gelatin per day. (Studies have shown that high-dosing vitamin C can reduce the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines.) And in L.A., the recently retired Kobe Bryant, 37, has become a devotee of bone broth soup.
“When Kobe had the Achilles tear [in 2013], he said, ‘I’m not going to hang it up,’ so we needed to do everything we could to get him back,” DiFrancesco says. “There’s evidence that a cup of bone broth contains basically the building blocks of the body’s support structures. Did it alone help him get back? Probably not. But I’d say it could very well have been part of the overall map to recovery.”
Carrying a spare tire around your belly? You're not alone: Fifty-four percent of U.S. adults now have abdominal obesity, up from 46 percent in 2000, according to a recent report in the Journal of the American Medical Association. If you fall into that category (male abs are considered fat if the waistline measures more than 40 inches), it's time to consider cutting down your consumption of these five foods:
1. Refined grains
Not sure what a refined grain is? It's an ingredient found in foods like white rice, white bread, and regular white pasta. The unrefined stuff (whole wheat, brown rice and quinoa) is always healthier. Pennsylvania State University researchers found that people who ate whole grains in addition to keeping a healthy diet—of fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy and protein—lost more weight from the abdominal area the group of people who kept the same healthy diet but ate all refined grains.
2. Potato products
A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine followed the weight changes of more than 120,000 men and women for up to 20 years. The participants were checked every four years and, on average, they gained 3.35 pounds each time—so almost 17 pounds by the time the study was finished. The foods associated with the greatest weight gain? You guessed it—potato chips and potatoes.
3. Red and processed meat
The same 20-year study found that people who ate more red and processed meat gained weight, too—about one extra pound every four years. In another study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers worked with more than 370,000 people and found that folks who ate the equivalent of a small steak a day gained about five pounds in five years.
Those cupcakes your coworker makes for special occasions? Yeah, don't eat them. While the FDA has basically declared war on trans fats, store-bought frosting still contains a not-so-healthy dose of the stuff. How bad can trans fats be? Researchers at Wake Forest University gave groups of monkeys two different diets; one group ate trans fats and the other ate unsaturated fats.
The results: The group eating trans fats upped their body weight by 7.2 percent in six years and the other only gained 1.8 percent. Not only did the trans fats add new fat, it was also responsible for moving fat from other areas to the belly. Check for trans fat in other foods like pre-made baked goods, snack foods, and frozen pizzas.
5. Diet soda
It's easy to get fooled by the zero-calorie label, yet sodas made with sugar substitutes are believed by many to play a role in weight gain. A new study published this month found that people who drank diet soda gained almost three times the amount of abdominal fat over nine years as those who didn't drink the no-cal stuff.
Sure, that study only looked at adults ages 65 and older, but consider this: Recent research from the Weizmann Institute of Science found that mice drinking water with artificial sweeteners (saccharin, aspartame and sucralose) became vulnerable to insulin resistance and glucose intolerance—two things known to lead to weight gain.
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BY HEALTH.USNEWS.COM/ Robert Preidt, HealthDay Reporter
SATURDAY, March 26, 2016 (HealthDay News) -- High school athletes who focus on a single sport may be at increased risk for knee and hip injuries, a new study suggests.
"Make sure your children are getting breaks in competition," said study author David Bell, assistant professor in the Departments of Kinesiology and Orthopedics and Rehabilitation at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
"There are so many great aspects to sports participation and we don't want this information to scare athletes or parents -- we just want them to be wise consumers and to participate as safely as possible," he said in a university news release.
The study included more than 300 athletes at two high schools, one large and one small. About 36 percent of the athletes had high levels of sports specialization. Nearly 29 percent had moderate specialization, and about 35 percent had low specialization, the researchers said.
The one-year study found that athletes from the smaller school were less likely to specialize than students from the larger school. Those in the high specialization group were more likely to report a history of overuse knee injuries than those in the other two groups. Athletes who trained in one sport for more than eight months during the study were more likely to have a history of knee and hip injuries, the researchers reported.
The study was published recently in The American Journal of Sports Medicine.
"Recommendations already exist to try and limit athletes' year-round exposure to sports," Bell noted. "Yet we don't know how well these recommendations are known to the average person.
"Our next step is to survey parents and athletes regarding their knowledge of sport participation recommendations, and also their attitudes toward sport specialization," he said.
The American Academy of Pediatrics offers sports injury prevention tips.
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BY HEALTH.CLEVELANDCLINIC.ORG/ Katherine Patton, MEd, RD, CSSD, LD
Lunch is a vital meal for athletic children because it’s often the last meal they have before an after-school practice and will affect their energy and performance.
If they eat too little, they will be tired and sluggish. If they eat too much of the wrong foods, they could have an energy spike followed by a crash – or have an upset stomach from too much fat or fiber.
Things to think about first
Before you start planning what your child should eat for lunch, consider these factors:
Whether your child brings a packed lunch or buys a mid-day meal, it should reflect the MyPlate guidelines. Created by the United States Department of Agriculture, MyPlate is based on the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The goal is to improve people’s health by helping them make better food choices.
The MyPlate guidelines say your child’s lunch should include grains, a fruit, vegetables, dairy and protein. This will ensure they are getting an adequate amount of carbohydrates, protein, fat, vitamins and minerals to fuel them for afternoon activities.
A closer lookLet’s look more closely at these food groups:
Grains — Choose whole grains most often. Switch up the traditional sandwich by choosing a bagel, wrap, tortilla or pita instead. Try a variety of pasta shapes and types, such as ravioli, tortellini and gnocchi.
Fruit — Choose whole fruit first, 100 percent fruit juice second. Fruit comes in so many forms today, so pack what your child likes — fresh, frozen, dried, cups, pouches, slices or kebobs. Sneak fruit into other places, like bananas on a peanut butter sandwich or fresh fruit on plain yogurt.
Vegetables — There is no question getting your kids to eat their veggies can be the toughest, so try to get creative. Pair raw veggies with a dip such as hummus, natural peanut butter, homemade Greek yogurt or ranch dressing. Mix veggies in pasta or pasta sauce, mix them in smoothies or slice them thin, spritz them with olive oil and roast them to make snacks like kale chips.
Dairy -- Milk and yogurt are two of the most nutrient-dense foods kids can eat. They provide carbohydrates, protein, fat, calcium, vitamin D, plus many other minerals. So pack a thermos of milk, go for shelf-stable milk cartons, or have your child buy milk at school. Yogurt comes in many forms that can be attractive to kids — have them try regular or Greek in tubs or tubes.
Protein -- Think outside the box when it comes to protein. Deli meats are a quick and easy go-to, but choose nitrate-free versions. Also consider leftover dinner meats, hardboiled eggs, cheese sticks, slices or wedges, hummus, nut butters or nuts.
Involve your children
Want to include a sweet or salty treat? Choose wisely and keep portions in check. Try air-popped or pre-popped plain popcorn, whole-wheat pretzels or crackers, all-natural corn tortilla chips, whole-grain chocolate chip granola bar (with at least 3 g fiber and less than 8 g sugar), graham crackers, trail mix, chocolate rice cakes or pudding.
Are you and your child tired of packed lunches? Buying the designated school lunch is the perfect alternative.
School lunches typically meet the needs of the school athlete and the National School Lunch Program mandates that meals include the proper portions, based on age, of fruit, vegetables, grain, meat and milk, while also limiting saturated fat and sodium. The meals include a variety of colorful vegetables and fruit. Half of the grains served throughout the week are whole grains, and the milk served is either skim or 1 percent.
Finally, be sure to involve your children in the planning and preparation of their lunch so they understand the importance of a balanced lunch and how food equals fuel for their athletic endeavors.
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A collection of Competitive Athlete articles and selected content from various online sources to help you achieve your winning goals