The London 2012 Olympic Games are over, but I think more can be taken away from the last two weeks of incredible sportsmanship than just medals.
It was amazing to see the well-conditioned athletes performing to their optimum and pushing their bodies to the limit. The majority of these athletes will have a nutritional team tailoring a strict daily menu plan based on their individual needs to help them perform to an Olympic-standard level.
The athletes have support, motivation and discipline to stay on course, with a gold medal as the focus to not stray towards the fast food bar.
I appreciate that these athletes are able to stay in competition-fit condition because it's what they do for a living. Extra, unnecessary weight can affect performance, which isn't a viable option for competitors. Despite this, I think the motivation, dedication and will to succeed can be taken onboard by the general public.
We're still in the grip of an obesity epidemic, to which manufacturers are responding with a number of 'solutions' to curb weight control. Satiety enhancing ingredients are becoming more popular, with the aim of reducing appetites and therefore reducing calorie intake.
The ever-expanding range of 'healthy' options appearing on supermarket shelves only seem to be confusing consumers, rather than making healthy eating a simple task for shoppers. So, perhaps innovation isn't the way forward for fighting obesity.
The NHS meal plan
The NHS offers a meal plan for what an Olympic heavyweight rower might eat when training three times a day. The diet provides about 6,000 calories per day. It's only suitable for athletes who do intensive training and isn't recommended for the general public. However, the food choices and broad range of nutrients the meal offers can be incorporated in everyday life.
Fruit, protein, slow-release carbohydrates, dairy products and unrefined sugars all feature in the meal plan. The main point to be acknowledged here is that this meal is reflective of the amount of exercise that the rower would perform each day.
Sportsmen do not consume more than they need to based on their expenditure. Britain for example, is generally eating more than they require and the excess calories are contributing to costs caused by obesity estimated to be £5.1bn per year.
It has been reported that sports clubs have received a huge increase in requests to join across a range of sports that were featured at London 2012. This can be a positive sign for everyone in 2013.
Rebecca is editorial assistant of FoodBev.com
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