WITH a lot of emphasis put on athletes to eat right during the festive season, Times Sport spoke to award winning chef, author and media personality Lance Seeto to share his thoughts.
FT: From a chef's point of view, what do you think is a proper meal before any game and the quantity?
Seeto: Ideal foods for sports people are rich in carbohydrates, lean protein and a small amount of healthy fat; these are the key food groups that will help the body to create energy. Foods that are high in complex carbohydrates and are low GI (Glycaemic Index) will additionally help to sustain this energy over a prolonged period.
In Fiji, all the root crops like boiled cassava, kumala and dalo are ideal foods when eaten with lean protein like fish (especially tuna). A more Westernised meal might include wholegrain bread, brown rice or wholemeal pasta mixed with lots of green leafy vegetables like moca, bele, long beans, Fijian avocado and nuts.
Eat a full meal at least one hour before a game to allow the body to digest, then supplement with a little fruit and lots of water during and after the game.
FT: What are some food athletes should stay away from during the time of competition?
Seeto: Any foods that are likely to give you an upset/running stomach should be avoided. In Fiji there is a tendency to eat the same foods before a game as you would eat on any other day.
Avoid foods that are oily, salty and heavy like roti parcels, spicy curry, chop suey or left over foods might give you a rumbling stomach during the game as your body quickly digests this unhealthy food.
Salty foods are also to be avoided before a game as the last thing you want is to be extra dehydrated during a hot and sweaty match. The lessons are the same as healthy eating; fresh foods cooked with little salt, oil and sugar.
FT: What do you think is the suitable meal for players this festive period to ensure they remain fit for the upcoming season?
Seeto: Steamed, boiled and quick stir fry dishes are what elite athletes are taught to eat during competitions. They avoid all fried foods cooked in vegetable oils but love lean protein like chicken with no skin and beef steaks (as raw as possible!) cooked in virgin coconut or extra virgin olive oil. Replace all starches with wholemeal or wholefoods (like root crops). Learn to eat brown rice for both protein and fibre, as well as wholemeal/wholegrain breads.
FT: Is there any Seeto's special dish for players this festive season. If yes, could you include the recipe please? How will this help the players?
Seeto: These recipes have been adapted from the Australian Institute of Sports (AIS) online cookbook, for Fijian ingredients, and are low in fat but high in protein and carbs to keep sports people energised. Brown rice is available at most supermarkets and Chinese stores.
Egg fried brown rice
Virgin coconut or extra virgin olove oil
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 onion, finely chopped
1 green capsicum, chopped
1½ cups finely shredded cabbage
1 large carrot, grated or thinly sliced
1 cup long beans, diced
1 cup fresh bean sprouts or moca
5 cups cooked brown rice
1 tablespoon chopped fresh spring onion
2 teaspoon light soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon oyster sauce
1. In a wok or frypan, heat the oil and fry the beaten egg until cooked and remove to the side
2. Reheat the frypan, add a little more oil and fry the onions and vegetables for 2-3 minutes until they are just softened
3. Add the rice and stir until well combined and heated through, add the soy and oyster sauce.
4. Stir through the bean sprouts, spring onion and cooked egg last.
5. Serve with fresh fruits
FT: Any other tips to keep fit while enjoying this festive season?
Seeto: Exercise doesn't always mean to run like an Olympic athelete. It is as simple as going for a 30 minute brisk walk. Drink plenty of fresh water, eat fresh fruit and as much fresh vegetables and salads. Just as the message for NCD dieting, avoid foods with oil, salt and sugar, and definately avoid processed tin foods if you can.
Visit the Australian government's Australian Institute of Sport website at http://www.ausport.gov.au
There are fact sheets and detailed information on diets and strategies for most popular sports including rugby union and soccer.
* Lance Seeto is a member of the Australasian College of Nutritional and Environmental Medicine. He has access to dieticians and nutritional doctors around the world who are all helping him to understand the biomechanics of how food impacts the body.