Do you have a special diet Jess?

Tuesday, March 8th, 2016

One of the most frequent questions I get asked when people find out I’m an Olympic rower is “Do you have a special diet?” And I must admit, it’s a very good question! Sometimes people get shocked if I have an alcoholic drink or order a pizza, but the truth is we have to eat an awful lot of food.

I don’t have every single meal laid out for me and calculated for protein, carbs, and fats , but that in part is my responsibility. We are training up to 3 times per day, and these are serious sessions. Hard rowing, long miles or lifting big weights, after the physical work the most important aspect of our day is recovery. I have to fuel enough to recover from the session, but also to aid me in my next session. It is a continuous cycle, and we don’t let up for a minute because one skipped meal could mean bad times for the next day’s rowing.

I use the word “fuel” because that is how we come to see food, it must be nutritionally balanced, good carbs and protein, and plenty of it. We don’t really work in terms of calories, but if I was to pin it down we can eat anywhere from 3,000 to 6,000 depending on the work-load. So yes we can eat ice cream, but I wouldn’t eat it everyday!

I wanted to bring you inside what I’d eat in a day, this is a typical day on training camp…

Starting with first breakfast (yes we get a second one) I’d always eat some kind of porridge, with fruits, good slow releasing carbs and a vitamin C boost and antioxidants first thing. Oh and I’m a coffee freak so that’s a given.

Post first row you won’t find me too far from some eggs, scrambled/poached/boiled it doesn’t matter, but you need to get some protein in.

Lunch and I’ll be having a large plate of brown rice, spinach, asparagus, roast lamb and red cabbage. A bit of pineapple for a fruit hit. I’m not the kind of girl to eat a bowl of soup for my lunch! Getting over that second training session and preparing my body for the last of the day.

Snack, I don’t normally go longer than 2/3 hours without fuelling so it’s time for some muesli for a late lunch snack. Keep the carbs coming in and energy for the last session. Dinner would be another large plate, here I’ve got baked chicken breast, sprouts, pumpkin, crushed sweet potato and salad. There was even enough room left for a few profiteroles!

It’s about getting the right food in at the right times, and this balance keeps my body in top form to keep producing the good hard rowing strokes everyday.

Don’t forget, the 2016 Boat Race takes place on Sunday 27th March. The women’s race will start at 3.10pm and will be joined on the Tideway by the men’s race at 4.10pm. If you’re heading to the Boat Races, click here for more travel information.