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Breakfast of the champion: Federica Brignone

By Elena Casiraghi, PhD Specialist in Nutrition and Sport Integration - Enervit Team
The champion's breakfast is always a hot topic of conversation and the diets of high-level athletes in general continue to arouse curiosity. There are many myths and articles that sports journalists have circulated on the nutrition of champions. Just to mention a few examples, the banana in the tennis bag of Michael Chang has set a new standard. As well as the number of pizzas and hamburgers consumed by Michael Phelps between pool training sessions. Without forgetting, finally, the gluten free diet of Novak Djokovic. Just to mention a few.

Right or wrong, the nutritional habits of the champions are a source of inspiration and imitation for sports fans. Even better if these nutritional strategies are endorsed and justified by experts in sports nutrition. So we asked Federica Brignone, born in 1990, Italian alpine skier, what is her favourite breakfast alongside the reason for her choices so that they can be trusted source of inspiration for all athletes and sports enthusiasts.

What is your ideal breakfast set up?

Don't miss a nice cup of hot water with lemon, traditional Icelandic yoghurt skyr, dried fruit and seasonal fruit.
Expert advice
After a long nocturnal fast, the body has lost its optimal hydration. For this reason, it is particularly good to start the day with a drink, even better if a glass of water that, among other things, promotes intestinal transit. At the same time, breakfast should never lack foods that are a source of protein in appropriate quantities. In the night, in fact, it is normal that muscle catabolism prevails.
Breakfast, therefore, is a precious opportunity to return to our body the "bricks" that during the night, during sleep, has taken from the muscle tissue to meet the exchange of proteins in the body. We can imagine this transfer of protein from one tissue to another as a "loan".

Insert a lean source of protein in the breakfast, such as yogurt skyr, which promotes satiety in the early hours of the morning and increases thermogenesis, that is, the energy that the body spends to digest the food consumed.

Carbohydrates are also obviously essential. And fruit, fresh and dehydrated, is an excellent choice. To this excellent mix, you could add oatmeal and oily dried nuts such as walnuts or almonds.

What's your favorite place for breakfast? Describe your perfect breakfast to us

My home. I have everything I need and all the seeds, nuts and fresh fruit I like best. My perfect breakfast is in my house, on my wooden and stone table, the room has large bright windows so I don't need to turn on lights, and as a background light acoustic music. I start with a nice cup of warm water and lemon then a bowl of seasonal fruit cut with skyr yogurt, chia seeds, flax and hemp, oats, goji berries and organic almonds accompanied by a cup of green tea.
Expert advice
Excellent green tea, rich in polyphenols, substances with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity. A diet rich in polyphenols seems to slow down the physiological aging, promote recovery from fatigue between training sessions and reduce the risk of stress injuries. The same can be said of the goji berries. For this reason, food based on polyphenols, vegetables, spices, fresh fruit (peel and seeds) especially berries or berries (the famous "berries") is entirely advantageous. Green tea is an additional solution for the abundance of these substances.

Do your competition breakfasts change from your daily breakfast?

It doesn't change much, if I go skiing and I know I'm out and about, I add eggs as well. I always carry dried fruit with me when I'm on the track.
Expert advice
When you want to consume eggs very frequently, such as every morning in the breakfast. The advice is to prefer - as Federica- only egg whites. The red, i.e. the yolk, should be consumed with a maximum frequency of only once a week as it is very rich in substances that inflame the body. Excellent additions to your scrambled egg white could include adding cocoa or cinnamon or even oat flakes or cubes of fresh fruit such as apples or pears.

How many times a day does a skier eat? (including snacks)

I don’t traditionally eat snacks. I'm getting used to it because it would be right to eat 5 times a day, so in the middle of the morning I eat dried fruit and in the afternoon a fruit or yogurt skyr when I'm hungry.
Expert advice
Snacks are essential, both for days that involve sports activities and for those that do not. Snacks allow you to arrive with greater pleasure at the next meal, avoiding sudden drops in blood sugar and nervous hunger with the risk of bingeing and then eating too much at the table. For an athlete, snacks are precious because they encourage recovery between training sessions and also activate training stimuli. In other words, they allow you to click on the ON switch for optimal sports performance.

Do you have a superfood, an ingredient, a dish that you need to eat when you feel a bit "depleted"?

When almonds and skyr yoghurt are competing, then I really love candied ginger because it gives me immediate energy.

When and from what was your passion born in the kitchen? A secret recipe of yours?

I always liked to be in the kitchen watching my mom and helping her, I learned a lot and now I enjoy my simple and healthy meals that I prepare. My secret recipe is cinnamon ice cream, it's secret and so I can't reveal it.
Expert advice
It sometimes happens that between work, training and family, the sportsman neglects the preparation of meals. But it is necessary to consider this moment as an opportunity: it is in fact a real part of the training. The attention to the foods on the plate, their quality and quantity could be compared to the attention that is placed in the choice of technical material. Food, in fact, is a valuable tool useful to promote adaptations to training, to reduce the risk of injury and, thus, increase performance. Not taking care of this aspect would mean losing a precious marginal gain.

What would you never give up at the table, and why? The top 3 of your favourite foods and dishes

I would never give up on vegetables. I love them very much and in all sauces. If possible, straight from the garden or organically grown. One thing I can't say no to is ice cream. Favourite foods I would say are vegetables, skyr yogurt and fruit. Favourite dishes eggplant parmigiana, pistachio ice cream, raw artichokes and parmesan cheese.
Expert advice
Unhealthy/fatty food is to nutrition as a day off is to sports training. A factor without which the effectiveness of training could even be lost. Rest, and therefore recovery from fatigue, is an indispensable moment to achieve maximum performance. So even when you’re at the table, knowing how to eat well but at the same time give yourself maximum taste is precious for the palate and mind and a key focus of sports nutrition. The important thing is that the daily diet is constantly balanced and rigorous (not rigid).

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