What athletes eat: Ironman Sarah Piampiano's sweet potato, spinach and guacamole lunch
Sarah Piampiano used to be a chain-smoking, hard-partying workaholic in charge of mergers and acquisitions at HSBC. But after a bet with a friend led to her first triathlon in 2009 and then the realization that she could be good at the sport, she left it all behind to become a professional triathlete. Now Piampiano is a multiple Ironman champion and one of the top Americans racing at the Ironman World Championships on Saturday.
These days, she monitors her diet religiously to make sure she's getting enough nutrients to recover from her 40-hour training weeks. She has also had to deal with the fact that she has Hashimoto's disease, which means her immune system essentially attacks her thyroid.
"While I knew I had Hashimoto's [when I was working at HSBC], I didn't care enough to take the necessary steps from a diet standpoint," she said.
She regularly skipped breakfast, snacked at her desk and ate out more often than not. Now she eats a strict, gluten-free, dairy-free and soy-free diet to help manage the disease, and she cooks nearly every meal at home. Early in the season, she splurges on one pint of dairy-, gluten- and soy-free ice cream per week, but she cuts that out as she prepares for big races. The rest of the time, it's healthy and filling meals such as this one she shared with us.
Day and time: This is a key lunch for me after a big morning training session. I typically eat it two or three times per week.
Place: At home in San Rafael, California
What I'm eating: A baked sweet potato with coconut oil, three or four eggs over easy, topped with spinach, guacamole and salsa
Whose recipe: My own!
Why I'm eating it: I love sweet potatoes. I love eggs. I love all things coconut. I pretty much put avocado in some form and salsa on top of everything. Combining it all makes this salty, sweet deliciousness with a little kick.
It's also a perfect lunch for refueling. The sweet potato is full of antioxidants, as well as carbs to replace glycogen levels after intense intervals. The eggs have plenty of protein for recovery, and the coconut oil and avocado provide healthy fat.
1 sweet potato
3-4 organic eggs
2 tablespoons guacamole (or 1/2 an avocado)
1-2 cups of spinach
Coconut oil (could use olive oil instead)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. With a fork or knife, pierce the sweet potato skin around the potato to create holes for steam to escape. Bake for 45 minutes or until tender.
Remove sweet potato from oven, cut down the center and put 1-2 tablespoons of coconut oil on the potato. Set aside, and let cool 4-5 minutes.
In a large, nonstick pan, heat coconut oil. Crack 3-4 organic eggs into the pan. Add salt and pepper to taste.
In a small pan, lightly sauté 1-2 cups of spinach until just wilted. Remove eggs from the pan and place over the potato. Put the sautéed spinach on top, and top off with avocado (or guacamole) and salsa. Enjoy!