“Rafa Nadal really likes fish. It’s his favorite dish,” says Gemma Bes, the elite tennis player’s dietician. We talked to her and asked her for advice on how to eat better during the summer, select good foods to protect us from the sun, and recover from workouts despite the heat.
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“Diets fail because we don’t have a good relationship with food. They involve the effort of going hungry, restrictions and frustrations that punish us. We need to stop counting calories and start looking at quality nutrients, which are more important aspects of building a healthy lifestyle.” Gemma Bess (Barcelona, October 27, 1973) is an eminence in the field of food. She personally advises the tennis player Rafael Nadal, who also trusts her to lead the sports nutrition of the Rafa Nadal Academy, and is the dietician of the company Cantabria Labs, where she provides tips to protect the skin from the sun through the menu.
About the tennis player, he says that fish is his favorite dish, and that control of his diet is basic not only in tournaments, but every day. “The intake helps athletes to develop their capacity, to increase their performance and prevent injuries”. Hence, Nadal’s diet is designed to store fuel in his muscles, maximizing their growth and development. The objective is the optimization of the results, since a player who does not pay due attention when choosing meals and snacks can feel tired, irritable and lethargic, he describes. “In addition, with difficulties in maintaining interest and enjoyment of the sport.”
WHAT DOES NADAL EAT?
Bes helps Rafa Nadal through the planned use of all currently available nutritional methods and strategies, but always with the appropriate scientific support. “That’s how we got long-term metabolic and physiological adaptations that protect the health of the athlete. For example, the amount and type of carbohydrates at the right time influences to have full glycogen stores. Brown rice, basmati rice, pasta, quinoa, buckwheat and cold potato.
In few competition does not include new foods and makes very simple menus with an extra supply of good proteins, such as grilled chicken or white fish. “In this way we ensure that all tissues are completely repaired.” After games always include vegetables for faster recovery thanks to their antioxidant properties. Y supports creatine production based on “crude olive oil, low in fiber, not too bulky and filling”.
Gemma Bes’s first piece of advice during the summer months is to stay hydrated from the first thing in the morning. “Drink between one and two glasses of water or warm or cold infusions with different ingredients, which also have beneficial properties for health such as ginger water and turmeric. And continue drinking during the day”. For those who practice sports, in the midst of heat waves that can lower our blood pressure, he recommends preparing homemade isotonic drinks with lemon, water, sea salt or fresh coconut water, which will also give us great benefits. amount of electrolytes.
Regarding the menu, focus on local and seasonal food, avoiding processed foods and relying on fresher dishes, such as gazpacho. Outside the home, avoid fried or fatty foods. “Lots of fresh vegetables at all meals and between two and three pieces of fruit a day. Simple dishes such as cold soups (salmorejo) and salads. This ensures a good supply of vitamins, antioxidants, polyphenols, fiber and water.”
From his point of view, summer is a good time to reduce animal protein intake and increase vegetable protein in the form of chickpea or hummus salads, pates of any legume combined with seed crackers. “Opting for healthy fats such as nuts, seeds, avocado, olive oil and small oily fish” is also an interesting and satiating option.
It is better to avoid desserts, but in case of closing with a sweet option, before attacking the ice cream from the beach bar, we can mix frozen fruit with vegetable drinks, he recommends. “Personally, I really like the coconut one and make homemade ice cream. If it lacks sweetness, you can add dates or quality honey. We can improve the texture with avocado or the flavor with previously roasted nuts. In short, endless possibilities.”
As for the appetizers, on the beach it is better to take a sourdough sandwich of pat or crudits with hummus than gobble up a bag of chips. All this accompanied by good sports practice. “You have to move.” For example, swimming in the sea.
KEYS TO CHOOSE WELL
Balance is the key to good mental and physical health, says Nadal’s dietician. “The selection is sometimes linked to the variety and many times we do not have healthy options. It is important to be aware of the nutritional level of the drinks that we are going to order and then we already choose. Personally, I don’t like to connect a product with calories but with its ingredients”.
In summer you can drink a wine or a beer in moderation, he clarifies, but if we want to enjoy good health and take care of our liver and digestive system, we will try to avoid or reduce everything that harms us, and, above all, what it does not give us absolutely nothing, such as drinks with added sugars or sweeteners. “You have to know that sweeteners in high amounts irritate the intestinal mucosa.”
Regarding snacks, after more than 20 years of working as a nutritionist, Bes asserts that 80% of his patients are worried about going without chocolate or coffee. “I recommend 100% pure cocoa and if we have a coffee try not to add sugar.
In summer we need lighter and more refreshing dishes. “Water-rich fruits and vegetables such as: apricots, peaches, nectarines, plums, cherries, melons or watermelons. Figs at the end of summer. Among the seasonal vegetables we will find courgette, cucumber, tomato, pepper, radishes and aubergine”.
He loves to prepare a spaghetti zucchini pasta with pesto, more refreshing than traditional pasta, and accompany it with watermelon. “92% is water, rich in B6, C, iron and fiber. Watermelon water or juice is also very hydrating and remineralizing.”
WHAT TO EAT AFTER PHYSICAL ACTIVITY
Gemma Bes applies the 4R rule to recover after training.
- Replenish energy reserves: “We will do it with carbohydrate intake: right after 1.2 grams per kilo of weight, 0.75g/kg of weight between 2-6 hours later.”
- Repair damaged tissue: “With protein intake: 0.25g per kilogram of weight or between 20-25g. The combination of carbohydrates with proteins helps better absorption and muscle glycogen recovers more easily. In addition, it provides a large amount of antioxidants to compensate for inflammation and recovery will prevent the lowering of the immune system”.
- Rehydrate: “With water and mineral salts”.
- Relax: “Sleep well and rest, we could say that sleep is the best recovery there is.”
FOODS THAT PROTECT US FROM THE SUN
If we intend to take care of our skin through our nutrition, Bes, as an advisor to Cantabria Labs, traces a proper food list to avoid oxidative damage from the sun and synthesize collagen.
- “Orange foods like sweet potatoes.”
- “Chlorophyll, our microbiota likes it a lot green vegetables and algae”.
- “Adequate intake of vitamin C, especially people living in cities.”
- “Lycopene and retinol for their anti-inflammatory effects”.
- Sulfur substances: “White or fermented garlic”.
- Polyphenols: “green teealso sin had like kukicha tea”.
- Astaxanthin: “Help our skin not forget how it has to work. This polyphenol guarantees that this does not happen, shrimp contain it.”
- Resveratrol: “The grape with its skin and its seeds.”
- “Turmeric used in preparations”.
- “Foods rich in healthy fats, like avocado, nuts and salmon, they improve the membrane of our skins and will also give us satiety. Fats with active ingredients from spices (olive oil made with turmeric for example)”.
- “Eggs and how we cook them (the raw yolk, a poached egg, for example, that way we maintain the properties of all the nutrients it provides us), pig feet (gelatin with high biological value), bone broth (widely used in medicine Tibetan when there are deficiencies) and zinc (bivalves such as oysters or scallops)”.