How to Eat Better Than an Olympian

This 2,000-calorie daily menu will help you fuel up during your next skiing trip.


Onion rings, chips and bacon. Those are the pre-competition power foods that Olympic snowboard champion Sage Kotsenburg favors. It doesn’t really sound like the best way to fuel, but then again, Kotsenburg is a superfit and active 20-year-old athlete. He could probably eat marshmallow fluff and still perform well. However, most of us need to be much more strategic about how we fill up our tanks.

The Olympics might be coming to a close, but perhaps you’re lucky enough to have a ski trip planned in the coming weeks. There’s certainly plenty of fresh powder out there to take advantage of. What should you eat to make sure you can last on the mountain for three to four hours at a time? Here’s a breakdown of how to fuel for an ideal slope side day, all on a 2,000-calorie diet.

[Read: Performance Foods: What and When to Eat Before Your Next Workout.] 

7 a.m. breakfast

Coco-Mango Smoothie. This is one of my favorite recipes from my cookbook "Eating in Color." The 186-calorie smoothie contains one cup of fresh mango, which has 100 percent of your daily vitamin C requirement. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant and helps to fight free radical damage that’s produced during exercise. The coconut butter in the smoothie will help keep you feeling full longer, and the addition of the spice turmeric helps fight inflammation – good news for anyone 40-plus.

Bowl of oatmeal. The oats provide sustained energy from complex carbohydrates and the fiber helps keep your belly from growling after just a few runs; 200 calories.

Water (16 ounces). It’s incredibly important to stay hydrated during winter sports. When we’re not sweating, we often forget to drink water. But moisture is also lost through respiration. And at a high altitude, the humidity is lower and we breathe at an increased rate, which causes you to lose even more moisture. The more dehydrated you are, the more your athletic performance will suffer.

How Skier Kikkan Randall is Prepping for the Olympics.]

10 a.m. snack

Hot chocolate with CocoaVia. One thing Kotsenburg eats that I do support is chocolate. The cocoa flavanols in chocolate promote healthy circulation, which is essential during prolonged exercise. But you might not want to take in 300 calories from a chocolate bar while you’re shushing down the slopes. One way to make sure you’re getting your cocoa flavanols, but not extra calories, is with a supplement. I love the unsweetened dark chocolate stick packs from CocoaVia because I can tuck them in my jacket pocket and stir them into a cup of coffee or hot chocolate. And I know that each 30-calorie stick pack is delivering 250 milligrams of cocoa flavanols to me, which is the amount that’s been shown to have an effect on circulation. Ninety-calorie hot chocolate + 30-calorie stick pack = 120 calories.

Low fat yogurt: 150 calories.

8 ounces of water.

[Read: From Speedskater to Broadcaster: Apolo Ohno's New Olympics Vantage Point.]

1 p.m. lunch 

Growing up, the pickings were slim at the cafeteria at Holiday Valley in upstate New York. The choices were basically fries and hot dogs, chili, candy bars, and soft pretzels. These days you might be able to find whiskey-smoked salmon chowder, empanadas or udon noodles with lemongrass broth. But what’s the best option if you’ve got 20 minutes to eat before heading back to the black diamonds? 

While something more exotic might sound delicious, you’re probably better off going with a meal that’s easily digestible to avoid any uncomfortable digestive surprises. A peanut (or almond butter) sandwich and a banana will net you about 500 calories, more than 400 milligrams of potassium for muscle contractions, and plenty of carbs to refuel your glycogen stores.

16 ounces water.

[Read: Snowboarder Kelly Clark's Ride Toward the Olympics.]

4 p.m. late afternoon snack 

At this point, you probably want to pull up to the fireplace and do a little après skiing with a nice IPA in your hand. But if you plan to head out for a few more runs, grab a 200-calorie granola or energy bar, and don’t forget to drink more water. 

7 p.m. dinner 

You’re likely exhausted from an amazing day, and your muscles are feeling like jelly. You need something that’s both hearty and easy to make. Pasta sounds perfect!

You’ll want to get a nice mix of carbohydrates, protein and fat to replenish your glycogen stores and help speed muscle repair, especially if you’ve been hammering the moguls. Boil up a box of Barilla Plus – a 3.5-ounce portion has more protein (17 grams) in it than half a chicken breast. And if you’re a meat eater, whip up an easy sauce with some grass-fed lean ground beef and a jar of tomato sauce. 

For some healthy fats, make a quick salad with pre-washed greens (I like Earthbound Farm) with diced avocado on top. The total meal will net you about 600 calories, 28 grams of protein and 16 grams of fat (half of it heart-healthy). 

16-ounce water.

[Read: How Skier Hannah Kearney Is Preparing for the 2014 Winter Olympics.]

Coco-Mango Smoothie Recipe

Serves 2

You can tell if your mango is ripe if it gives slightly to gentle pressure. The color isn’t an indicator of ripeness.

Fruit of 1 large ripe mango, peeled, pitted and diced

Finely grated zest and juice of 1 line

1⁄2 cup coconut butter, such as Nutiva brand Coconut Manna

1 teaspoon ground turmeric

1 cup water

1 cup ice, plus more for serving

In a blender, combine all the ingredients and blend until smooth. Pour into 2 glasses over additional ice, if desired, and serve.

186 calories, 7.5 grams fat (6.1 grams saturated, 0.5 grams monounsaturated, 0.2 grams polyunsaturated), 2 grams protein, 32 grams carbohydrates, 6 grams fiber, 0 milligrams cholesterol, 1 milligram iron, 7 milligrams sodium, 415 milligrams potassium, 41 milligrams calcium.

[Read: Green Smoothies 101: Health Benefits and Recipes.]