- US soccer star Alex Morgan said she fuels her Olympic training with an anti-inflammatory diet.
- Anti-inflammatory foods are rich in plant-based nutrients to reduce stress and cell damage.
- Foods like berries, leafy greens, and sweet potatoes are Morgan’s favorites to promote recovery.
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For US soccer star Alex Morgan, eating like an Olympian means getting plenty of fruits and veggies.
To fuel hours of training for the upcoming Tokyo Olympics, Morgan told Insider she bases her diet on anti-inflammatory foods, which are rich in nutrients to help reduce physical stress and promote faster recovery.
“There’s not time for anything else, because you need to make sure your body and mind are focused and ready,” Morgan said in an interview about her new partnership with iFit, an interactive online fitness platform.
Morgan said her diet relies on anti-inflammatory foods like berries, sweet potatoes, and leafy greens, which have research-backed benefits for health and performance.
She’s a big fan of coffee, an antioxidant powerhouse
Like many athletes, Morgan starts her day bright and early. She’s also a mom, so that often means earlier than she’d like, at around 6:30 AM. As such, hydration and caffeination are a foundation of her morning routine.
“A glass of water is number one in the morning, quickly followed by coffee,” she said.
Along with providing a boost of energy, coffee offers a ton of health benefits. It’s full of polyphenols, plant-based nutrients that help reduce inflammation, support healthy digestion, and regulate metabolism. These same compounds also have antioxidant effects, meaning they help prevent or slow cell damage.
Caffeine, the active ingredient in coffee, is also one of the most evidence-backed performance enhancing compounds whether you’re a sports star or a new parent, according to research.
Breakfast focuses on anti-inflammatory berries
For the first meal of the day, Morgan said she’ll often have an acai bowl, a mix of nutrient-dense foods like acai berries, fruit, chia seeds, nut butter, and yogurt. She also loves to snack on blueberries.
All types of berries are full of vitamins, minerals, and fiber, and are among the most-recommended foods to fight inflammation, according to experts.
Morgan also said she loves pancakes, not for any particular nutritional benefits, but because they’re delicious.
Lunch includes leafy greens like arugula
After morning training and a quick stretching or foam rolling session, Morgan said she likes to have a big arugula salad for lunch. This peppery green leaf is full of nutrients like vitamins C and K, as well as minerals like calcium and potassium. All of these are important for healthy muscles and a strong immune system.
Leafy greens like arugula, kale and spinach are renowned for their anti-inflammatory benefits since they’re high in fiber and plant micronutrients.
Arugula is also uniquely rich in polyphenols called isothiocyanates, which research suggests can protect against cell damage and chronic illnesses like cancer.
Sweet potatoes are a go-to side dish loaded with vitamins
Another of Morgan’s favorite anti-inflammatory foods is sweet potatoes. They’re rich in nutrients like vitamin A, which helps support the immune system, as well polyphenols called carotenoids, antioxidants that help give sweet potatoes their distinctive bright hue.
Sweet potatoes also have a lower glycemic index that other starchy veggies, meaning they raise blood sugar more slowly, making them a great option for longer lasting energy, according to experts.