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The summer Olympics are here! Ever since I was a little kid, I couldn’t wait to watch gymnastics, — diving, track & field and fencing (my mom used to fence in high school). I was thrilled to have the opportunity to speak with U.S. Fencing Olympian Tim Morehouse about what he eats in order to train for such a big competition.
Q: Congratulations on winning a bronze medal at the Moscow World Cup, which qualified you for the London Olympics! What’s your daily training regimen like when you are training for the big event? How far in advance do you start training?
Thank you; we hope to bring home the gold for the USA! Our daily regimen involves 5 to 6 hours a day of training which includes an hour of footwork, an hour-long lesson on technique and strategy, an hour of weight training, an hour of conditioning and several hours of sparring. For us, the Olympic is a 4-year cycle. Since right after the Beijing Olympics ended, I’ve been training for 2012 London Olympics.
Q: What do you eat before and after you train?
Before training it is important to eat to fuel your muscles and brain. Snacks eaten within an hour of exercise will help maintain blood sugar and keep you from feeling hungry. A pre-exercise snack should be predominantly carbohydrates because it empties quickly from the stomach and becomes readily available for the muscles to use. After training it is important to eat within 45 minutes, carbohydrates with protein to reduce muscle breakdown and replenish glycogen stores. Another top priority after a hard workout is to replace the fluids lost through sweating.
For past few years I’ve been sponsored by BistroMD to eat their entrees while training. BistroMD provides healthy meals for me to eat conveniently while I am training for the Olympics. Since the menu has been custom designed for me by a registered dietitian and arrives fully prepared by a chef, I don’t have to worry about portion control or each ingredients’ nutritional value. It has been a great help to manage my weight while eating delicious food.
Q: Are there certain foods you stay away from when you are training?
There is the possibility that some foods can create intestinal chaos for an athlete. There are a number of factors that may predispose you to GI problems including type of sport, training status, age, gender, emotional stress, hydration, hormonal changes, consumption of caffeine and use of sugary gels,. Each athlete is unique and will find throughout training certain foods that they need to avoid prior to a workout. High-fat meals also take longer to leave the stomach and may not settle well– this type of meal will not aid in post-workout recovery either.
Q: How do your diet and exercise routines differ when you are training and when you are maintaining?
With a decrease in exercise/training you are burning fewer calories per day so overall food intake should decrease. It is important to continue to follow a healthy, balanced athletic meal plan.
Q: What do you drink to stay hydrated during intense workouts?
During extensive exercise lasting more than 60 minutes, fluid intake should be matched with your sweat losses. You can determine your fluid loses by weighing yourself naked before and after a workout to determine sweat loss per hour. Sports drinks will help maintain blood sugar levels and are an added source of fuel for your muscles. Cramping is often attributed to dehydration. Athletes should drink fluids throughout the day and about 8 fluid ounces every 15 to 20 minutes during a workout.
Q: As the games are taking place in London, what will you eat while you are there to make sure you stay at peak performance?
It is important to plan strategies for fueling and refueling during competition. Eat and drink your reliable sports foods and have them on hand before and after events. Unfortunately, I will not try new foods or drinks during this time.
Q: What are 3 suggestions you would give youngsters who dream of being in the Olympics?
- Just having the goal and going for it is a HUGE FACTOR. Most people assume they can’t achieve something BIG so they don’t even set out to try.
- Expect challenges and don’t give up. Any big goal will include challenges; just don’t give up when you are faced with setbacks.
- Find the best coaches/teachers and teammates. It takes having a great support team to help you achieve your goals.
Tim Morehouse, a New York City native (born July 29, 1978), is an Olympic silver medalist in fencing (’08 Beijing Games), two-time individual U.S. National Champion (’10 and ’11), 7-time world cup medalist and #1-ranked U.S. men’s saber fencer from 2008-2011. Tim will be competing at the 2012 London Olympic Games, his third Olympic team.
With all the snow falling throughout the country, it’s an exciting time to hit the slopes. And if you like to spend all day outdoors whooshing down the mountain, you’ll need to stay fueled. Ski lodge offerings have come a long way over the years and you can find some healthy options– for a pretty penny. Instead, pack a few healthy snacks in your multi-pocketed ski jacket and munch away on the chair lift or gondola.