Learn to Eat Healthy With Silver Medalist Ogonna Nnamani | STACK
X

Become a Better Athlete. Sign Up for our FREE Newsletter.

Learn to Eat Healthy With Silver Medalist Ogonna Nnamani

July 23, 2012

Must See Volleyball Videos

With so many delicious empty calorie options out there, even elite athletes can struggle with meal choices. It's a battle that former U.S. national volleyball team member and silver medalist Ogonna Nnamani is all too familiar with.

"When you're young, you take advantage of your good metabolism. So we eat, eat, eat junk food," says Nnamani. "I was really bad growing up; I would eat anything I saw. [Athletes today] need to train themselves to instill good eating habits early on, because it's hard to change and adapt… It took me awhile to get there."

Now sponsored by both Gatorade and Nike, Nnamani found the willpower to make nutritional changes during her Olympic career. She says, "Fueling yourself efficiently is an advantage straightaway… So [Team USA] really took healthy eating seriously. I wasn't a breakfast person, but our coach woke us up and went through the cafeteria with us to make sure we were all eating a good breakfast."

Though still not a fan of morning fueling, Nnamani now understands its importance. For other breakfast skippers, she encourages “solid choices” like oatmeal. "It staves off hunger, gives you energy and is just a heavy meal."

Learning to make healthy eating choices and hanging out with “health-food junkies” during the Olympics sparked Nnaman's nutrition turning point. "Surround yourself with people who pay attention to their eating," she says. "I saw [teammates and friends] and said, 'You know, I'm going to try that out,' and then I began to see differences in how I felt and performed."

The volleyball star’s favorite nutrition technique is to actively think about the nutritional value of each meal as she sits down. "When I get my plate, I take a step back and ask myself what is really on my plate," she says.

Another technique she's found useful is keeping track of what she eats with a calorie counter. "I really advise athletes to keep track of their calorie intake," says Nnamani. "It helps you see how much protein, carbs and fiber you're really getting in. Maybe don't track every day, but it will help you see patterns of what you ate and how you performed."

Like other aspects of training for sports, Nnamani reminds athletes trying to eat healthier to " just do it." She says, "Sometimes you have to just try it. It's going to be a struggle, but once you see how you feel, you might not want to go back…Enjoy what you're eating, but be really careful with what you put in your mouth, because that's your fuel. Just like going to the gas station to fill up your [high-performance] car, you only want to put premium fuel in [your body]."

A final note from Nnamani: " I definitely have cheat days. At least once a week I'm going to splurge and really enjoy it. I don't have a completely squeaky clean eating record, and that's okay with me. If you have a day like that, enjoy it and just know the next day you have to eat right and get back on track. It's a discipline just like any training."

Stay tuned to STACK.com for nutrition advice from other Olympians like Garrett Weber-Gale and Natalie Coughlin.

Samantha Jones
- Samantha Jones is a graduate of the University of Alabama, where she earned her bachelor's degree in communication and information sciences. Throughout her scholastic career,...
Samantha Jones
- Samantha Jones is a graduate of the University of Alabama, where she earned her bachelor's degree in communication and information sciences. Throughout her scholastic career,...
More Cool Stuff You'll Like

Dig Like a Pro: Exercises for Volleyball Mobility

Fast-paced sports, such as volleyball, require quick reactions in multiple directions. During reactive movements, athletes do whatever it takes to get...

Volleyball Workout Do's and Don'ts

STACK Summer Training Guide: Volleyball

NCAA Sand Volleyball Will Emerge in 2012

Volleyball Recruiting: Searching for More Than Talent

Develop Explosive Power With UCLA Volleyball's Workout

Misty May-Treanor

2 Speed Drills to Improve Your Volleyball Game

Featured STACKlete: Reagan Rogers

Mizuno vs. Asics Volleyball Shoes

Hydration Guidelines for Volleyball Players

High School Boy Too Strong to Play Girls Volleyball

We've Got the NFL, But Poland Has Volleyball

Build More Efficient Volleyball Practice Plans

Volleyball Drills to Become a Better Server

3 Effective, Fun Volleyball Serving Drills

Increase Your Vert for Volleyball With 3 Plyos

Killer Volleyball Plyometric Workout

Get Recruited for College Volleyball as a Libero

Volleyball Recruiting: Why Hasn't the Coach Called Me?

What's So Different About NCAA Sand Volleyball?

Essential Volleyball Drills for High School

Volleyball Summer Training Guide 2013

2 Challenging Volleyball Conditioning Drills

Jump Higher, Move Quicker and Play Better

Ultimate Volleyball Workout

Become a Volleyball Leader

How a Bad Game Affects Your Recruiting Status

2014 Summer Training Guide: Volleyball

Volleyball Workout and Drills You Can Do at Home