Have you ever wondered what top athletes eat to give them all that stamina? I have and, after some research, I find that we can take a few detox diet tips from them.
This week saw the end of Wimbledon Tennis and the start of the Tour de France cycle race in the UK and the media has been giving us a glimpse of the kinds of diets these endurance athletes follow.
Gluten Free Diet Cure
Ivan Djokovic won his second Wimbledon men’s final after a grueling 5 set match. Just a few years ago he couldn’t go that distance without having breathing problems and becoming fatigued.
He’s managed to put all that behind him since a clever doctor found that he was intolerant to gluten and dairy products and put him on a dairy and gluten free diet.
Although the commentators were putting his breathing problems down to asthma, Dr. Igor Cetojevic recognised it as a digestive problem. Once Djokovich removed gluten and dairy products from his diet his breathing problems and fatigue improved.
Gluten is hard to digest and it’s now recognized that you don’t have to have celiac disease to be sensitive to it and benefit from excluding it from your diet.
Although avoiding wheat or gluten has been labelled as a fad diet by many doctors it is a known fact that wheat increases both insulin resistance and leptin resistance, conditions that lead to obesity.
Ditch Wheat To Lose Weight
Dr William Davis, author of the best selling book Wheat Belly, says that ditching wheat can help you lose weight and get rid of tummy bulge he refers to as “wheat belly” and many people go on a detox diet to lose weight.
One of the most common allergies or intolerances is to cow’s milk. Non organic milk can contain traces of environmental chemicals and hormones which all place an extra burden on the detox system. It makes sense to exclude it when on a detox program.
They weren’t the only things in Djokovic’s diet that he changed. He stopped eating large meals of meat that taxes the digestion and ate lightly cooked vegetables and rice instead.
This is the aim of a detox program. When you stop eating food that takes a lot of energy to digest you free up energy that your body can use for detoxification.
Out With Sugary Snacks
Dr Cetojevic instructed Djokovic to have natural fruit bars during matches instead of sugary snacks which would upset his blood sugar balance and ultimately lead to a drop in energy.
Sugar is excluded on a detox diet because there are so many things wrong with eating it. Sugar detox diets have been covered extensively by journalists this year and I have written several articles about it on this blog.
It’s been reported that Andy Murray, who won the title last year, tried a gluten free diet for a couple of months but felt awful.
He doesn’t say what he ate instead but my guess is that as he is used to eating a lot of pasta he had not replaced it with enough of the alternative non-gluten whole grains like quinoa, millet or rice.
Carbo-loading on pasta and bread is very much part of the plan for as much a part or the diet plan for endurance athletes.
But, Dr. Allen Lim, former exercise physiologist for the Garmin-Transitions pro cycling team, and Jonathan Vaughters, Garmin’s founder and CEO, agree that wheat is responsible for bloating, stiffness, and gastrointestinal distress and therefore bad for the team.
Go Gluten Free For Better Energy
Christian Vande Velde, Garmin-Transitions’s team leader, said, after he experimented with a gluten free diet, “I was pleasantly surprised, I just had all-around better digestion, and digestion is the biggest thing in utilizing the energy I consume.”
Chef Sean Fowler, hired to cook for the team said “Wheat-based pasta is the carbo-loading standard mainly because it’s cheap, readily available, and easy to cook, but other carbs are just as effective, including rice, oats, corn, and quinoa, a seed that’s high in carbs and protein.”
No bread, cookies, or hamburger buns usually means less sugar, salt, and processed foods spiked with toxic chemical fillers. Just what’s needed on a detox diet.
Andy Murray’s Fruit Smoothie
Back to Andy Murray – he has a fruit smoothie every morning and one newspaper gave this recipe for one of them.
Andy Murray’s Breakfast Smoothie.
One pot of strawberry yoghurt
One packet of raspberries
Half a glass of apple juice
Juice of two oranges
Handful of blueberries
Put all the ingredients into a blender and whizz until smooth.
This would obviously make a good detox smoothie especially if the ingredients were organic. It would be even better for a detox program if you make it a green smoothie by omiting the yogurt and adding a handful of green leaves.
After matches he usually has a protein shake. He said ‘It is supposed to be chocolate but, to be honest, it doesn’t taste great!’
Well, he has obviously not tasted this high protein detox smoothie recipe.
High Protein Breakfast Detox Smoothie
1/2 cup coconut milk
1/2 cup coconut water
1/2 cup fresh or frozen organic blueberries
1 handful baby organic spinach
1 tablespoon raw cacao
2 tablespoons almond or cashew butter
2 heaping tablespoons Vibrant Health Chocolate Protein Powder
Dash of ground cinnamon
Dash of Stevia to sweeten if really needed
1 tablespoon ground flaxseed or chia seeds
Place all ingredients into a high powered blender and whizz up until very smooth.
Add more coconut water to allow blades to turn or if you prefer a thinner consistency.
Nigel Mitchell, head of nutrition for the Great Britain Cycling Team and Team Sky, says that a very important but overlooked factor is gut health.
“The best nutrition strategy in the world won’t work if your gut isn’t in good condition. It just won’t absorb what you need, so you won’t be getting the protein and micro and macronutrients to help you adapt to the training you do.”
“Broadly speaking the best way to do that is to cut down on meat, alcohol, soft drinks, caffeine, most nuts, eggs, vinegar, sauerkraut, ascorbic acid, cheese, white sugar and medical drugs. And try incorporating more foods into your diet such as raw vegetables, ripe fruits, beansprouts, water, milk (goat’s is best), onions, figs, carrots, beetroot and miso.”
This is very similar advice given when you follow a detox diet. Eggs and nuts are excluded on some detox diet plans but allowed on others.
There is no doubt about the importance of the gut when it comes to detoxing and that is why it often starts with some form of bowel cleansing.
If as Mitchell says, you can’t absorb your nutrients then you won’t be healthy. From a detox pont of view if your digestive system is sluggish or clogged up then you won’t be eliminating the toxins quickly enough from your body. The longer they hang around in there the more chance there is of them being reabsorbed.
Mitchell also says “consider it a minimum and try to eat at least five portions of different fruit and veg a day. Another good rule to follow is to make your plate as varied, colourful and bright as possible. Bright and strong-coloured fruit and veg are the best sources of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants”
Antioxidants are very important for athletes to help repair the wear and tear on their bodies. They play an important part in detox too as free radicals are produced during the detox process.
Soren Kristianson, head chef for Team Sky, a British professional cycling team, is a big fan of breakfast smoothies. He says it’s a good way to start the day. Athletes need something to fill them up and and as it’s blended it’s easier to digest.
The same applies to a detox diet. Here’s his recipe for the Team Sky Smoothie which can double as a detox smoothie.
Team Sky Smoothie
Banana, apple blueberries, strawberries, almond milk, mint. Simply adjust the proportions to get the smoothie just the way you like it. Put them all in a blender and and whizz up until smooth.
For a detox diet my advice is to add some green leaves and turn it into a green smoothie.
Kristianson says that if you want something more substantial then try the Team Sky porridge made from oat flakes, sliced apples, cinnamon, ginger. Simmer in water until you get the right consistency and serve with bananas and blueberries.
Well, oats are often excluded on a detox diet as they are considered to be a gluten grain but the gluten in it is not the same as the gluten in wheat. Many celiacs can tolerate oats.
Detox your body through exercise and sweating
The amount of exercise these athletes do means they sweat which encourages toxins to leave the body through the skin. Andy Murray has been known to do Bitram Yoga which is a type of hatha yoga performed in a room heated to a very high temperature.
To sweat during a detox program you can take an Epsom salt bath or have a far-infrared sauna if you have access to one.
So now you can see how we can take many detox diet tips from the athletes. Find out more about detox in my
14 Day Energizing Detox Program