Whole, Lively Foods: What an Olympic Level Diet Looks Like

Whole, Lively Foods: What an Olympic Level Diet Looks Like

- Rachel Sovka

Martin Reader, 2012 beach volleyball Olympian and co-founder of Strive Life Athletics, was literally eating the steak and vegetables he had just cooked while we had a conversation about nutrition. There couldn’t have been better timing or proof that Martin really is as disciplined as he says he is when it comes to diet.

Cooking for himself is one of the most important ways Martin monitors his nutritional intake to maintain his health. One of his kitchen secrets is that he cooks with grass-fed butter or ghee, especially with vegetables. He also uses a lot of sea salt.

“I like to cook and eat things as ‘lively’ as possible,” he says; that is, “as local as possible and as fresh or butchered as recently as possible.”

Martin knows the best quality ingredients for athletes are locally sourced, which is why he puts more effort into buying local and eating whole foods.

“Food that increases life energy has to come from good sources,” he says,

“quality and density of nutrients affects absorption rate into the body, so you don’t have to eat as much.”

Martin wants to enjoy everything he puts into his body, saying that food is information and he must put the most optimal information into his system to generate the best response.

As precise as this might sound, Martin says he doesn’t follow any particular diet.

“I try to keep my routine simple,” he says,

“I eat when I'm hungry and until I'm full. I fast in the morning and have a coffee before I workout.”

With lots of greens, seasonal vegetables, Canadian rolled oats, and grass-fed meats prominent in his diet, an average day for Martin looks like this:

  1. Morning: Overnight oats and /or coffee before training
  2. Post workout: Greens and whey protein shake post training
  3. Lunch: Whole food with meat for lunch
  4. Afternoon snack: Tea and a light snack
  5. Dinner: Whole food with meat for dinner
  6. Evening snack: Granola and yogurt before bed

Martin’s advice for achieving nutritional balance is to spend time in meal preparation, and the mantra that you can’t ever get enough leafy greens.

“You have to have good things in the fridge to prep meals, and make weekly grocery trips,”

He recommends eating vibrant colours; kale, green beans, broccoli and carrots, steamed with ghee or fat soluble vitamins.

Martin says this doesn’t have to be difficult, he buys $30-40 of vegetables at the grocery store down the street regularly.

“You can eat well on a budget,” he says, “my strategy is to cook meals on Sunday, have healthy snacks available, and purge my kitchen of all things in boxes with expiry dates.”

“At the end of the day, there are no shortcuts, it has to be part of your lifestyle.”

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