UWTSD lecturer provides an expert view on how to train like an Olympian


In an article by the Guardian’s Archie Bland and Leo Benedictus, UWTSD’s Chris Cashin provides an expert view on how to train like an Olympian and how important peanut butter can be to an athlete’s training regime. 

What is it about peanut butter that makes it appeal to the world’s top athletes? And will eating it turn you into one? Chris Cashin, a registered dietitian who lectures in sports nutrition at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David, has witnessed the peanut butter craze firsthand. “I’ve even got two sons who use gallons of it,” she says. Athletes commonly spread it on carrot or celery sticks, add it to smoothies or eat it in its natural habitat: on toast.

In truth, peanut butter has no magical properties in itself. Generally speaking, it is just ground-up peanuts, plus maybe a bit of oil, salt and sugar – and peanuts are just a lot of fat, carbohydrate, fibre and protein. What is special about this paste, however, is its convenience. Besides mixing easily into sweet and savoury snacks and drinks, it tastes good, requires no preparation, lives for months in your locker without rotting and, crucially, combines all those useful food groups in a very small volume, meaning that athletes can snack on it for energy and protein without getting so full they waddle around the track. The unglamorous truth about peanut butter, as Cashin puts it, is that “it adds a lot of calories without too much bulk”.

Other high-density snacks are, of course, available. Cashin mentions cereal bars and energy balls (which are spherical bars, as far as I can tell) as well as something called “fat bombs”. “That’s a new one,” she says. “It’s a mix of perhaps some coconut oil, coconut and fruit.” There are other nut butters, too, such as almond or cashew, which do a similar job, albeit usually with a little less protein.

Most people already have a more mundane, and cheaper, alternative in their house. “One of the best snacks is actually some cereal and milk,” says Cashin. “Milk has natural whey protein, and carbohydrate, as well as in the cereal. Some athletes will actually refuel with milk. Lots of studies have shown that it is a good source of fuel, post-exercise.”

Of course, if you’re not training fairly seriously, it may be that you are by no means struggling to get enough calories in your diet. Rather, it could be the reverse. In which case, scoffing lots of peanut butter certainly won’t make you any fitter – fatter is a possibility. 

For more information on the School of Sport, Health and Outdoor Education visit: http://www.uwtsd.ac.uk/undergraduate/sport-health-outdoor-educaton/

For full article visit: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2016/aug/17/train-like-olympian-eat-peanut-butter-listen-robots