I eat pretty much only what I personally cook. I consume, as do all athletes in explosive sports, what might seem like a significant amount of protein – I never seem to get enough. In addition, my supplement regimen is absolutely non-trivial.
Note: As light as I try to make this blog; be sure of one thing – YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT. How I choose to forage is strict, but for me, it is worth it.
First, nutritional knowledge has come a long way! Proper nutrition and making big sacrifices to eat extremely clean does play a role in increased performance. I have a severe MSG allergy, so cooking everything I eat from scratch and from fresh is my default behavior. We really are what we eat – eggs, plant protein, animal protein, what quality of animal protein and what time of day protein is consumed, all matters. I also believe that our own food supply is increasingly contaminated. All the more reason to eat not farmed fish but line caught. Then you add an explosive, fast twitch, winter sport and…..
I am 50 years old and consume 6000+ calories a day minimum during winter months.
The winter training is usually “2 a day workouts” and obviously the second one is on the ice in the cold. The human body burns more fuel to stay warm. How much salmon can I eat in one sitting…. A lot! Smothered in honey and ginger and as raw as possible. Some people will say, “Oh the mercury”, so do what works for you!
None of us are perfect and we all have cravings but when you consume 6000+ calories a day, it can happen that it is not all ideal calories every time, every day. I am strict as possible but not perfect! That said, I do calculate when I am not going to be perfect or know that the impact of my choice is not going to cost me in a way that I will regret it. Additionally, I also measure the “guaranteed negative” impact the next day in a workout, eg. documenting what caused me to lift 20% less.
By now you all know we (Skeleton and Bobsled sliders) train at night, in the cold at temperatures as cold as -10 degrees and less, in an ice tunnel, traveling at 90+ MPR, in a paper thin speedo. We sweat, we get cold, we get on a truck and go back up the pass and do it again. There are times on that truck you hear an athlete say, “I cannot slide again; I am too hungry.” I have watched male bobsledders warming up in the start house with a “to go tub” of numerous steaks, gnawing on them between runs.
I keep liquid Wellesse Protein in the car – fast absorbing and down the hatch! I don’t go anywhere without a baggie of about 50 + supplements for the day, they go everywhere.
One of my friends who is an MD and a recreational slider said to me, “Prata, really, all you have is expensive urine!” I beg to differ; I do significant research on whatever I ingest. I even go so far as to mix my own protein powders from scratch. One friend said, regarding my baggie of supplements, “The vitamin dust is all touching each other how do you even know what does what?” Well, as an athlete you do know exactly why you are taking, what you taking and when you are taking it.
Due to the high levels of protein consumed, sometimes I have too little carbohydrates in me and I can feel my energy level drop. I am relatively gluten free except when this happens… and I will get something as insane as a croissant and soak it in butter! I realize it is already made with copious amounts of butter but I need 6000 calories remember! And frankly there are times when a gluten free 113 calorie slice of bread just is not going to cut it. Yup –strict as heck –But not perfect! Always, if I indulge like this, it will be a day where I know the next day is not a lifting day and thus either the sugar or the wheat intake and negative impact of my choice is mitigated- sort of. ..But not really – damage is still done.
ANOTHER CRAVING: Burning fuel in the cold and doing explosive training, I sometimes crave fat. Cravings can come in different varieties, like for things you are actually allergic to and should stay away from, what your body is potentially saying is you need something else. Or sometimes your body is depleted in something and it makes sense to feed the craving. When the latter is the case – the next question is how do you choose to feed the craving? So if I am craving fat I will find good quality fat in Bison, avocados, and the right nuts and berries. That said, I have eaten more than 50% of a box of cheese nips in less than 30 minutes and then I can usually polish off another quarter of the same box in the next 15 minutes. Strict but not perfect! Not to mention the migraine I just caused with the MSG!!!
What I eat in the morning is a process of a protein shake, or oatmeal, a pre-workout drink, lots of water, some supplements. Then training, eat more protein, chicken, shrimp, and tuna, and liquid Wellesse protein is always handy for me. I can always take a swig out of the bottle and grab 10 grams. Quick and easy!
Eating before I go to the track is tricky for me. I do not like to feel full and have my tummy in the way when sliding. My sled, Gabriel hates it too and yet it is usually dinner time right about the same time I am warming up or starting that first run. I am always trying to find the perfect amount of nutrition and yet not too heavy. As I mentioned, I mix my own protein powders and am currently trying one that is not working. That said, I am in Whistler and have a lot of it, so will use it up and switch back to my own concoction. Protein bars – find the one that works for you. Protein bars are tricky. There is everything from gluten free to low glycemic index bars. My choice is what works for me, does not make me sick, provides the right amount of protein and without stupid amounts of sugar; yet I really am done eating stuff I will only try once and spit out- so it might not taste AWESOME but it cannot be heinous.
Eating when Home at 11:00 PM from training: This food can be an approximately ½ lb. or more of salmon, broccoli or sweet potatoes or up to ¾ of a lb. of shrimp. Yup, I can eat a lot of shrimp in one sitting too. While I am fixing food I am usually eating something else already cooked. Hard boiled eggs are a no brainer. I can pop a couple of those on my way to the shower and while I am still getting out of wet clothes.
Sometimes I mix canned line caught salmon or tuna. Often I am still hungry and love popcorn. I can put away 2 large bowls with approx. ¾ of a stick of butter on it or I have a special nut and berry mix. It is d-doublicious! I make it not low calorie but organic and high value calories. This can be a constant feeding frenzy while I work on my sled, trying to get warm or mentally wind down.
Yes the lack of perfection is evidenced by the fact that I have woken up with M&Ms melted in my hair, Cheetos dust so thick on my phone I cannot swipe it. I am sleeping on a piece of plywood to help heal and I woke up and thought, “What are these divots in my thighs? How did little pebbles get under me?” I get out of bed and I found 8 skittles stuck to the plywood— Strict as heck but not perfect…
One liner this week is: Don’t eat skittles in bed!
More importantly be mindful, intentional and educate yourself on what you are eating! IT MATTERS!
Guest post by Anna Prata, an Olympic hopeful Competitive Skeleton Athlete. Otherwise known mainly by her last name of Prata, she is 100% committed and passionate about living every moment of her life and leaving it on the field every day. In her non-athlete time, Prata is a highly successful executive in the niche of corporate turnaround. Both her corporate life and her sports life have similarities of stealth, intensity, and speed in creating value and less time down the ice; while wearing Kevlar to protect from the dangers of companies in distress and from potentially hitting a wall of ice at 90 MPR. Ms. Prata is not a nutritionist, a physical therapist or in any way should her opinions be considered medical, physical or psychological advice.