Time for the Winter Olympics and athletes of all shapes, sizes and sports looking for gold. Gold medals represent the best of the best in the respective sport, but winning gold is not about just training hard; it is about fueling and recovery day-in and day-out. No athlete becomes the best and makes it to the Olympics without paying attention to the fuel he/she puts in his/her body. Winning gold requires providing your body with adequate and quality nutrition to help it build, perform and recover.
Golden foods, or those that are yellow and orange in color, are full of beta-carotene, which is a precursor to vitamin A in the body. Why is this so important you might ask? Beta-carotene and vitamin A are both rich antioxidants! Antioxidants help fight off disease and illness by buffering free radicals, or bad guys, in your body, plus they help your body recover. Many golden foods are also high in fiber and boast of many other nutrients like vitamin C. Here are some creative ways to add gold to your training diet throughout the Olympics:
1. Sweet potato: Sweet potatoes can be a great carbohydrate choice for any meal, and you can even roast them to make sweet potato wedge “fries”. This is a fun way to allow your family to eat fries in a healthy way! Another interesting twist on sweet potatoes is to make hash out of them and pair them with eggs and veggies at breakfast. It’s a nutrient-rich way to start your day!
2. Golden beets: One of the top disliked vegetables is a beet! However, there are lots of creative ways to eat these golden spectacles of health! One of the most delicious ways is to roast them in the oven with a little olive oil and salt, then sprinkle them with goat cheese and chopped pistachios and drizzle with some balsamic vinaigrette! Mmm mmm!
3. Peaches: Of course you can slice up a peach and eat it; skin on please! But one scrumptious dessert is to roast peaches (or slices and cook in microwave), drizzle with vanilla Greek yogurt and top with a little granola, toasted oats or chopped nuts. This is a nutrient-rich twist on a high-calorie crumble dessert you might find at a restaurant. Plus, it helps you and your family get in a serving of fruit and antioxidants.
4. Apricots: Dried apricots can be a great addition to homemade trail mix or as a pre-workout snack to give you a boost of energy. The bright golden color adds flavor and fiber!
5. Butternut squash: Most people think yellow summer squash when they think squash, but butternut is actually a winter squash that can count as your carbohydrate at dinner or in a salad. Rich in nutrients, it is a little higher in calories than summer squash, but a great whole food choice for your energy source at lunch or dinner.
While it is important to consume fruits and vegetables in all colors of the rainbow, paying attention to the yellow-orange variety can help boost your immune system and give you and your kids the nutrients you all need to make it through the cold winter! Want to go for gold? Fuel with golden nutrients!
Amy Goodson, MS, RD, CSSD, LD is a sports dietitian in the DFW area. She has worked with Texas Christian University Athletics, the Dallas Cowboys, Texas Rangers, FC Dallas Soccer, Jim McLean Golf School and many PGA Tour players as well as with many middle school, high school and endurance athletes. Amy speaks at a variety of nutrition, athletic training and coaching conferences. She is an ambassador/spokesperson for the National Dairy Council, a Dairy Max Health and Wellness Advisory Council member and on the Speakers Bureau for Gatorade Sports Science Institute. Amy is also the co-author of “Swim, Bike, Run – Eat,” a sports nutrition book for triathletes.
Amy received her Bachelor of Science in speech communications from Texas Christian University and Master of Science in exercise and sports nutrition from Texas Woman’s University. She is also a Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics.