Miho Takagi’s Diet Teaches Us: “People Change So Much by What They Eat | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Miho Takagi’s Diet Teaches Us: “People Change So Much by What They Eat

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Athletes don’t eat anything special either.

Azusa Murano says this. She is a nutritionist who has provided dietary support to many athletes, including Miho Takagi, who competed in seven races at the Beijing Winter Olympics and won four medals.

The basic idea is to prepare a well-balanced diet,” she says. This is the same concept for both athletes and the general public. We call this a ‘full-course nutritional diet.

A “full-course” diet is one that provides the full range of the five nutrient groups (carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins, and minerals) that are essential for maintaining good health. Although it is difficult to think of nutrients in terms of nutrients, this diet is designed to make it easy for anyone to eat a well-balanced diet by ensuring that each meal includes (1) staple foods (carbohydrates such as rice or bread), (2) side dishes (protein), (3) vegetables (seaweed), (4) fruits, and (5) dairy products.

This diet is easy for anyone to follow, and I would like to see it adopted by the general public.

It is kind of obvious.

However, not only athletes but all people who exercise have different challenges in terms of physical activity, body development, and physical condition, so it is necessary to strengthen the nutrition of each athlete according to their individual challenges and the body they want to achieve.

We have been providing Takagi with nutritional support since May 2017, prior to the PyeongChang Olympics, and even after the PyeongChang Olympics, we have been checking in with him every season to see what he needs to work on, and we closely exchange information on his daily food intake, training content, training volume, and intensity, checking daily whether his diet meets his goals. We have worked hard to provide nutritional support.

In that sense, it is not just a matter of eating a ‘full-course nutritional diet.

On March 12, after the Beijing Olympics, Miho Takagi placed first in the women’s 1500m at the World Cup Speed Skating Finals in Heerenveen, the Netherlands, and won the overall World Cup title in the same event this season (2021-21 season). The reason for her power… (Photo: Afro)

It’s all the same inside, but you need twice as much protein!

What makes an athlete’s diet different from ours is the quantity.

For example, for protein, the average person needs 1 g per kg of body weight as a minimum. And to obtain “sustainable health,” which is one rank higher, they want people aged 18 to 49 (men and women) to consume 1.3~2.0 g per kilogram of body weight, and those aged 50 and over (men and women) to consume 1.3~1.8 g per kilogram of body weight. In reality, however, all ages are taking in only about 1.2g, so he would like them to increase their protein intake by 10g per day (1.5 cups of milk or yogurt) first.

In contrast, if you are an athlete, you need to take in at least 2 g per body weight.

Since Takagi weighs 58 kg, he would need to consume 116 g of protein. The amount of protein he can consume from 100 g of meat is 15 to 20 g. Even if we calculate at 20 g, he would have to eat 600 g of meat alone every day.

Of course, depending on the part of the meat, the amount of fat may be high, so care must be taken not to consume too much. It is not enough to simply consume the right amount of meat, but it is also necessary to consider the balance and content of the meat.

If it is difficult to take in only through diet, we recommend supplementation with protein and other supplements. Even for protein, the purpose of taking it varies depending on the training and the content of the training, so many athletes, including Takagi, use various types of supplements.

There are various types of main ingredients in protein, such as those derived from milk or soybeans, and the components other than protein also differ, so it is important to choose the right one for you, he says.

For example, on days when endurance training is the main focus, glycogen in the muscles is depleted, so a type of protein that provides not only protein but also carbohydrates is recommended as a recovery measure, while soy-based protein is used when the body needs to be toned down a bit.

Takagi spends his time constantly dealing with his own body, so he uses protein efficiently on a daily basis, and I often consult with him about this from time to time,” said Mr. Takagi.

How he was able to compete in seven races and win four medals at the Olympics

Bodybuilding is the accumulation of daily training and nutrition. First of all, it is important to clarify what kind of body the athlete wants to build and what challenges he or she wants to overcome.

Takagi is very serious about food, and even in the harsh competition environment, he has made a lot of efforts and devised a variety of ways to improve his diet. I believe that his experience over the past five years is one of the factors that led him to this year’s results.

At the Beijing Winter Olympics, Takagi competed in seven races in five events: women’s 3000m, 1500m, 1000m, 500m, and team pursuit. She was able to compete in both short-distance and long-distance events. The physiques of long-distance and short-distance track and field athletes are completely different. What kind of body did Takagi want to build?

He said, “I had six challenges at first: First, to review my diet as a single person; second, to further increase my power and speed; third, to improve my endurance and stamina; fourth, to improve my strength and stamina; fifth, to improve my strength and stamina; and fifth, to improve my strength and stamina. The fourth was to keep my weight and immune system in check; the fifth was to prevent anemia; and the sixth was to build a sharp body.”

To meet these challenges, he says, it was necessary not only to raise awareness of nutrition, but also to implement initiatives that could be put into practice immediately and sustained over time.

At first, he asked us to create a menu for him, but it would be difficult to continue unless we first gained a clear understanding of what kind of food Takagi was eating and then gradually increased what could be improved while strengthening his nutrition.

Since they often travel overseas, we wanted them to acquire the ability to make their own food choices and consume their own food under any circumstances, so we started by ensuring that they eat a “full-course nutritional diet” every day, which is easy to follow.

Certainly, it is difficult to prepare five items for every meal. When I am at a training camp or on an overseas expedition and there is a buffet with a variety of foods on the table, I choose my favorites with this in mind. To make sure he was getting the right five items, Takagi took pictures of every meal he ate for the nine months leading up to the PyeongChang Olympics and sent them to Murano. He sent a total of 820 pictures!

820 “full-course nutrition type” meals sent by Takagi. You don’t have to be an athlete to find them useful.

That’s not all. In order to help Mr. Murano select a protein that contains the nutrition he wants to supplement through training, Takagi also made notes of what kind of training he does, his daily training schedule, training intensity, and the supplemental food he takes before and after practice, and sent them to Mr. Murano. He also sent notes to Mr. Murano explaining the technical terms so that they would be easy for Mr. Murano to understand.

Mr. Murano said, “I think it’s wonderful that Takagi takes the initiative. He provided detailed information on his own, so even when he was away from us, we could see how he was spending his days. There are not many players who can go this far.”

Achievement comes after careful consideration of food.

Still, does diet really make that much of a difference?

I have been providing nutritional support for Senri Fukushima, a track and field athlete who retired in 2021, for 12 years. There was a major nutritional deficiency in everything.

If you are not eating the right amount of food for the amount of practice you are doing, you will tire easily, get injured, and not be able to practice as planned. It’s the food we eat that supports our practice.”

With nutritional support, Fukushima competed in three Olympic Games in Beijing, London, and Rio de Janeiro. She has broken the Japanese women’s 100m and 200m records 11 times.

The Japanese national team’s success at the Rugby World Cup is still fresh in our minds, and it was Murano who provided nutritional support for the national team.

There is a big difference between thinking about eating three times a day, 365 days a year, and not eating at all, says Ms. Murano.

However, it is sometimes difficult to eat a full-course nutritional diet on an expedition.

Sometimes there is a lack of vegetables, and sometimes there are too many oily foods and not enough to eat,” he says.

Especially during the Beijing Winter Olympics, it was impossible to go outside the hotel due to the bubble system. That is why we prepared well in advance by bringing necessary foods from Japan.

It would seem that one would have no trouble finding food in the Olympic village, but that is not the case.

At the Beijing Winter Olympics, the 500m competition starts at 22:56 local time. The challenge was what to eat and at what time.

Two days later, I had two games in the team pursuit, and two days after that, the 1000m, which was an overcrowded schedule. I wanted to focus on recovery, but also take in some energy before the race. I suggested a meal schedule as well as a time-based schedule.

Even the day before the last race, he asked me, ‘Is there anything else I can do (in terms of nutrition) for tomorrow’s 1000m?

Even under extreme conditions, he remained positive and thought, “There is something I can do,” right up until the very end. I think that one word says it all about Takagi, and that is why he was able to win the gold medal that he had longed for.

If you get tired easily, catch a cold easily, etc., it is a loss of life. I can’t be as thorough as Takagi, but I can try to eat a “full-course nutritional diet” that I can start today. I would also like to maintain my health by exercising as well.

Azusa Murano Azusa won the All-Japan University Women’s Ekiden Championship as a long-distance track and field athlete, and worked for the Yokohama Bank, a businessman’s club. After retiring, she joined the former Meiji Seika in 2002. In 2004, she qualified as a Registered Dietitian and has worked in various sports including track and field, professional baseball, and soccer. He is currently coaching many athletes, including Naoya Inoue, a three-weight champion in professional boxing, Miho Takagi, a speed skater, Kazuki Himeno, a rugby player, Koutaro Matsushima, and Hitomi Shintani, a track and field athlete.

  • Interview and text Izumi Nakagawa

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