Olympic swimmer — and 11-time medalist — Natalie Coughlin knows that maintaining a healthy diet is crucial to staying at the top of her sport. And in a new interview with Fitness magazine, she says that when it comes to properly fueling her body, she relies on a mostly vegetarian diet.
“I really lean toward a plant-based diet,” she says. ”I have seven vegetable beds, one is all kale since that’s one of the best foods for you.”
She puts those beds to work on a regular basis, whipping up green smoothies made with “coconut water, kale, spinach and romaine lettuce mixed with apples, celery, or pineapple.” And when she’s not at home, she still tries to maintain a high intake of greens.
“It’s harder when I travel and I don’t have a green drink handy. When I’m on the road, I just try to eat as many salads as possible.”
Although Coughlin loves her veggies, she admits that she’s not 100% vegetarian, and that when she eats meat she enjoys it. But she does believe it’s best to keep it in small doses.
“If I do eat meat, it’s at night, and it’s a pretty small portion,” she says. “I love meat, but I think it’s much healthier to eat vegetarian most of the time and eat it when it’s really delicious or in a smaller portion.”
Coughlin, who’s set to participate in her third Olympic games this month, also believes in maintaining an active lifestyle, both in and out of the pool.
“Leading a healthy, active lifestyle is all about momentum,” she says. “If I’m in the middle of training it’s easy for me to keep that up. It gets tough when I’m on a break. I just try to start my day with a good breakfast and a quick walk, something simple that gets the day off on the right foot. The more I do that, the more I make healthy choices that reflect the good choices made earlier.”
Catch Coughlin in action when the Olympics kick off on July 27.