United States Olympian Sanya Richards-Ross, achieved her dream by winning the Olympics gold for the 400 meter run in a remarkable 49.55 seconds. As impressive as it sounds, a lot of effort in the form of a healthy diet and a strict fitness regime is the reason behind this success. A female runner has very specific dietary requirements that have to be fulfilled to give the best performance in terms of speed and stamina. This blog takes a close look at what makes a gold medalist like Sanya Richard-Ross, the fastest female runner at the Olympics.
A female runner needs to consume upwards of 2,500 calories a day to stay on top of the form and have sufficient energy to run without fatigue. The energy comes from the 3 macro-nutrients namely carbohydrates, proteins and fats. They should be present in well balanced amounts to help the athlete stay well nourished and healthy. Vitamins, minerals and fluids are the other essential nutrients that must be part of the diet.
Carbohydrates- These are the best fuel sources for the body and can be obtained from cereals and their by products like bread, whole wheat crackers and pasta. For an athlete, it is recommended that they opt for whole and unprocessed cereals rather than refined ones. Avoiding all simple sugars in the form of sweets and sugary drinks will help in the slow release of blood sugars which can sustain the runner for a long time. 60% of the total calories must be made up of good crabs.
Proteins- They should range from 10 % – 25% of the day's diet and are best derived from lean meat, red meat ( all excess fat removed), poultry and low fat dairy. For the vegetarians, beans and lentils are good options.
Fats- While they have to be taken in minimal amounts, the stress in more on the quality of fat that is consumed by a female runner. Plant sources of fats such as unsaturated fatty acids rich vegetable oils is the best choice. They should be consumed in moderation as they are concentrated in calories and too much can lead to unnecessary weight gain.
Calcium - It is one of the most vital nutrients needed for well being of female athletes. Plenty of calcium is needed to keep the bones strong and dense, and can be obtained from low fat dairy, fortified foods and artificial supplements. This is not only vital to perform well at the game, it is also needed to prevent bone related disorders in these women later in the future.
Iron- The female runner loses iron in sweat and also as monthly menstrual losses. To make up for this, plenty of green leafy vegetables, beans and lentils and lean red meat should be eaten. Supplements can also be used if needed.
She prefers to eat chicken and fish as her sources of protein and typically combines them with rice. This is eaten along with roast potatoes and a generous bowl of salad. This is a good example of a healthy diet for marathon runners too.
This runner regularly drinks broccoli and carrot juice which gives her a big helping of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.
On days that she has been involved in many hours of practice, she has a high protein shake to help in repair of her muscles which get strained after strenous exercise.
She pre-game menu is carbohydrate rich pasta which she eats the night before the big game.
She uses multivitamin supplements on a regular basis which help the body cells release energy in a more efficient manner and also to prevent any deficiency that can impair performance. She also takes fish oil supplements, which are often recommended for a runner to reduce inflammation in the joints and related aches and pains.
Simple and healthy food has helped Sanya Richards -Ross grab the much loved Olympics gold, a feat that is remarkable considering that she was diagnosed with Behçet's disease, a rare autoimmune disorder. This only goes to show that hard work and dedication can make everything possible.
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