For the world's top athletes, food must become a science. They need to constantly keep track of what they eat, even how much water they drink, to ensure that their body is in peak physical condition.
Figure skating champ Kim Yu-na rigorously "limits her calorie intake to 1,200 kcal per day during both the on- and off- season," her former coach Shin Hye-sook said. But the demanding efforts of figure skating can burn as much as eight kcal per minute, comparable that of handball players. So how can Kim perform if she is only consuming 60 percent of recommended daily intake for an average woman of 2,000 kcal?
"To maintain her weight, she takes the minimum amount of calories, while to maximize the effects of her exercise, she follows a scientifically designed diet," said Kim's doctor, Cho Seong-yeon of the Sports Medicine Clinic Sky. For breakfast the world champion has a proper meal of steamed rice and soup, whereas red fruits like strawberries, tomatoes, cherries and protein-rich vegetables such as beans, tofu and soy milk are main items for lunch and dinner. "Red fruits are high in antioxidants like anthocyanin that help reduce lactic acid, the cause of fatigue after a workout," Cho said.
Kim avoids meat during skating season, getting her protein from fish and vegetables, since although animal protein is effective in enhancing muscular strength, it may weaken muscular endurance.