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News of a Mediterranean Diet Study for Athletes and a Q&A

November 3, 2011

Mediterranean Diet studies always pique our interest. So when we heard the news that Michael Aufrichtig, a Columbia University fencing coach, was traveling to Italy to launch a six month study promoting the benefits of the Med diet for athletes, we couldn’t wait for the opportunity to talk with him!  And we were lucky enough to have the chance to do a little Q&A with him where we could hear about his Mediterranean experiences, thoughts about the diet and advice for other athletes to stay at the top of their game.

*AND, as an added bonus, we look forward to checking back in with Michael once the study is completed.*

Oldways:  What surprised you about the foods you encountered on your trip?
Michael:  The foods were extremely tasty, healthy and filling.  Much of the food we ate was prepared by top chefs in the country, yet all followed the Mediterranean diet.  We were extremely surprised at how good all of the food was, because it was healthy too.

Oldways:  One of the big issues that comes up for athletes is the timing of eating and being active. Can you give us a few specific examples of how you fit meals into your workout schedule?
Michael:  I and other athletes try our best to eat breakfast , lunch and dinner with a few pre- and post- workout snacks.  Fencing in NYC, our practices are generally in the evening from 6PM – 9PM.  We try to eat a light snack before our workout then a light dinner after.

Oldways:  What foods have you found go the greatest distance in terms of providing satiety?
Michael:  Pasta goes the greatest distance and is extremely easy to prepare with different toppings that add variety.  Most carbohydrates as well as fruits provide satiety too!

Oldways:  Do you consider that the Med Diet provides everything you need or do you use any supplements?
Michael:  We believe the Mediterranean diet will provide everything we need in terms of a complete diet.  It will be exciting to find out as we start following the full diet near the end of November.

Oldways:  What do you think are some of the biggest mistakes athletes make in terms of their diets?
Michael:  Believe it or not, one of the biggest mistakes athletes make is forgetting to eat (especially during competitions).  The sports I focus on include fencing and Modern Pentathlon and these competitions last all day from 8AM – 8PM.  This type of commitment lends itself to getting caught in the moment and forgetting to fuel yourself to stay at the top of your game.  Athletes need to plan ahead and experiment with foods that they can eat during the day to replenish their bodies during competitions.

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