Power Eating for Executives and Entrepreneurs (1 of 4)

Introduction

Athlete eating

Athletes have always understood the importance of nutrition

As an athlete, first in track and field and then in bobsledding, my intense physical training was complemented by an equally structured program of nutrition. Food and supplements, the conventional wisdom went, would enhance my ability to train and to perform at a high level. This started from as early as Port Maria Primary school, where I was given nutmeg to suck because it would supposedly give me ‘donkey breath’, and reached its apogee with the various concoctions of oils and minerals preferred by Sam Bock, an outstanding and innovative bobsleigh coach who led Jamaica to its best Winter Olympic finish in that sport.

While there is considerable divergence on what diets and supplements lead to peak athletic performance, it is generally accepted that both, properly used, will yield significant positive results.

In a research paper, Nutrition for the Sprinter (Journal of Sports Science. 2009 Apr;27(6):667), the authors write that ‘Several supplements potentially influence sprint training or performance’. Training for sports involves a variety of routines to develop strength, endurance, explosiveness and sport specific skills, each of which places different physiological demands on the athlete. Elite sport athletes have high training intensities and volumes for most of the training season, so energy intake must be sufficient to support recovery and adaptation. The efficacy of these exertions have been shown to be enhanced by a multi-faceted nutritional strategy to support both general training needs–tailored to specific training phases–as well as the acute demands of competition.

Commenting on a recent Tweet by five time Olympic Gold Medalist Ryan Lochte, implying that he consumed 10,000 calories per day, Lewis James, a lecturer in nutrition at the UK’sLoughborough University said “Everyone should be working hard to make sure they have got the appropriate diet for their sport or their event, making sure they are well fed and have consumed the right nutrients at the right times so that we can really maximize performance…..Messing your diet up or not eating properly in a lot of events can really impair your performance.”

Having ‘hung up my spikes’ and on pursuing, first, my banking career and then my entrepreneurial life choice, I left behind any commitment to a nutritional program to support my various exertions. it was not evident to me that nutrition was as important in these fields as in athletic performance and perhaps even more so.

Problem

Executives and entrepreneurs need to choose how to eat.

Executives and entrepreneurs need to choose how to eat.

Executives and Entrepreneurs face demands for high performance which outweigh in scope, duration and consequence demands faced by athletes. The stakes are entirely different. Even in the high stakes world of professional sports, soccer, football and basketball, not considering the outliers, athletes compete at this level for a relatively short time. For example, the average career length for an NBA player is 4.8 years, 3.3 years for an NFL player, and a player in the English Premier League can expect to be active at that level for about 8 years. Now with life expectancy in the Caribbean in the 70s and increasing, we will all spend the majority of our days in some sort of professional or entrepreneurial endeavor.

The executive or entrepreneur will not perform for a few hours a day, for some months each year, for a relatively short number of years like her professional athlete colleague, she must perform on demand, 12-14 hours or more per day, without an off season for 40-50 years. She needs all the help she can get. If nutrition is important to the athlete it is critical to this group of people.

For convenience it is useful to consider the impact of nutrition for executives and entrepreneurs on three areas; energy levels, mental acuity and stress management.

The table below provides a useful reference point for what kinds of food can help improve performance.

Water Vegetables Fruits Grains Dairy Protein Other
Energy Spring Water & Coconut Water Sweet potatoes, Spinach, edamame Bananas, Oranges, apples, avocado, green peas, pumpkin, almonds Brown Rice, Quinoa(actually a seed) Greek yogurt, Steamed fish, Broiled Chicken, egg whites, Honey
Mental Sharpness Spring Water & Coconut Water Lettuce, calaloo, spinach, cabbage, cauliflower, brocoli, tomatoes Bananas, Oranges, apples, walnut, strawberries, avocado, raisins, plums, pecans, sunflower seeds, dates, red kidney beans, cocoa bean Flax seeds, peanuts brown rice Omega 3 from salmon, herring, trout and tuna, olive oil
Stress & Anxiety Spring Water & Coconut Water Lettuce, calaloo, spinach, cabbage, cauliflower, brocoli, tomatoes Bananas, oranges, apples, peanut butter, sesame seeds, almonds, beans, flaxseed, chocolate Brown rice, Oats Milk Omega 3 from salmon, herring, trout and tuna, olive oil
Eating the right foods supports energy levels, mental sharpness and stress management

Eating the right foods supports energy levels, mental sharpness and stress management

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