It’s no surprise that sprinter Allyson Felix has a regimented nutrition plan. She is, after all, the most decorated female sprinter in the history of the U.S. But it wasn’t until two years ago that she really began to focus on her diet. So why the change, if she had already won four Olympic gold medals and two silvers? And how can an Olympian’s diet apply to us non-athletes? We sat down with her to talk all things nutrition and competition, courtesy of her sponsor, Bounty.
Interview with Olympian Allyson Felix
How She Changed Her Outlook on Nutrition
“I only started taking nutrition very seriously about two years ago,” Felix says. Her diet before wasn’t horrible, but there was no rhyme or reason to it. “A lot of athletes have a similar story. You work so hard that you sometimes can get away with whatever, but you don’t realize until you do change your diet that you feel so much better, your recovery is better, and you get injured less. You’re missing out on these benefits.”
At the advice of a friend, she decided to take her nutrition to the next level. The key is balance. Though her meals are very regimented, they contain a balance of protein, veggies, fruit, and carbs. “I make sure I’m getting enough after each training session to be able to refuel.”
Her advice: “Sometimes you don’t even know that you don’t feel as good as you should feel. And I think that’s across the board, not just with athletes. You want to feel your best and want to have energy to get through the day. Everyone is busy. If you can feel better, why not?”
Her Favorite Healthy Dish
A typical meal for her is a piece of salmon, broccoli, and brown rice. “Salmon is one of my favorite things,” she says. She also loves halibut and other fish.
After she finishes a race, however, she loves to celebrate with a good steak.
Her Pre-Olympics Training Schedule
Felix spends about five hours a day training: typically three hours on the track and two hours at the gym. She emphasizes the importance of recovery, and notes that some of that time is allotted to massage work and seeing a chiropractor.
How She Manages Her Nerves
“For me, it doesn’t matter what race it is. I get nervous. It’s all part of competing, and managing it can be the difference.”
We all get nervous. We may not be competing in front of the entire world like Felix is, but her advice for managing nerves resonates: Don’t make the moment bigger than it is. Focus on the task at hand. “You kind of forget what’s happening around you.”
On Her Fourth Olympic Games
“That’s the great thing about having gone to three Olympics: You can finally use the experience. Everything from competing to managing the nerves and dealing with expectations and pressure.”
The 2016 Olympics begin August 5—will you be tuning in? We sure will!