Yelena Isinbayeva’s Olympic Training Diet

Yelena IsinbayevaYelena Isinbayeva is a Russian pole vaulting champion who won Olympic gold in 2004 an 2008 and is a strong contender for gold in 2012. She shared her diet on Facebook in 2010 by taking photos of her meals – we think that all athletes should do this, to help teach people what healthy eating really is all about.

Yelena Isinbayeva has been named Female Athlete of the Year 3 times by the International Association of Athletics Federations. She was born in 1982, and she is the ambassador of the Youth Olympic Games. She was the first woman to jump over 5 meters and in Beijing 2008 she jumped to 5.05 meters.


Yelena started as a gymnast but by the time she was 15 years old she was too tall. Her coach suggested that she try pole vaulting and she has never looked back since.

Her Pole Vaulting Diet

Her diet is designed to give her a combination of fast and slow release carbohydrate, protein and fats. Plus coffee for that extra boost. She shared her diet this on Facebook as part of her role as ambassador for the Youth Olympic Games. It was her way to show younger athletes how easy it is to eat properly while training without compromising the enjoyment of food. Coffee and chocolate are both allowed.

Breakfast: Bread, butter, cheese, coffee

Yelena Isinbayeva breakfast

Breakfast is simple, black coffee, white bread and a selection of cheese with some tomatoes. The coffee gives a good energy boost in the morning meaning that you work harder. It is a safe, natural and a legal booster. The white bread, which is high GI, releases its energy very quickly. It is not good for weight loss, but excellent for getting glycogen into the blood quickly.

Do not eat the white bread if you are not training that morning, as it will just turn to fat. The cheeses and tomato provide a little protein and some fats that are required for proper body function.

Breakfast on her day of competition: bread, cheese, nuts

Yelena Isinbayeva cometition day breakfastOn competition days she changes her diet slightly so that there is more slow release carbs in the form of nuts. The nuts contain slower release energy and essential oils too.

Walnuts also combat unhealthy fats and walnuts also help to preserve the elasticity and flexibility of the arteries which means that the cardiovascular system stays in top shape. Not that the portions are small and well balanced. This food is nutritious and packed with energy, too much will quickly lead to fat gain.

Lunch: Pasta “Bianca” – olive oil, cheese, tomatoes

Yelena Isinbayeva lunchPasta is an athletes favorite food when it comes to muscle fuel. Pasta is a very healthy source of carbohydrate so long as it is prepared and served correctly. Overcooked pasta with creamy sauce contains elevated sugar levels.

The healthiest pasta is wholemeal pasta cooked al dente style and served with a dressing of olive oil with cheese and tomatoes. However, if you need your energy quicker, that is, if you wish to digest the pasta faster, then cooking it more increases its glycemic index.

Dinner: Chicken, carrots, broccoli, potatoes

Yelena Isinbayeva dinnerDinner contains a balanced meal of protein to help repair and build muscle with healthy carbohydrate sources in the form of vegetables. Note that the emphasis is on the carrots of broccoli with just a few small potatoes.

There is no sauce and the portion is small. Note that just because she has been training hard all day does not mean she is allowed to eat more food.

The extra energy will cause weight gain, even if you are exercising hard. Note that the portion of potatoes is much smaller than the broccoli and carrots.

Competition Day Snack: On the day of competition Yelena says that her secret of success is chocolate

Yelena Isinbayeva chocolate and coffeeChocolate is an excellent source of energy. Yelena only eats dark chocolate that provides health benefits. The coffee provides an extra boost before competing, again a healthy and legal boost that can increase performance.

If you are trying to get fit, coffee really is a good choice of drink simply because it means that you work yourself harder without having to take on board more sugar, fat or protein to do so.

Professional athletes are always very slim. Many people assume that this is because of their workouts, but really it is because being slim gives them a competitive advantage. They are more athletic by being slimmer than their opponents.

The workouts leave athletes such as Yelena Isinbayeva feeling hungry at times, but she cannot just eat whenever she feels hungry as this will lead to some weight gain. If you are trying to jump higher than any other person in the World a few extra pounds is enough to cause you to fail.

Remember that Yelena’s requirements are not going to be the same as yours and that every athlete has different needs. But this daily diet does provide a blueprint for your own diet that you can modify and change.

The key elements are to eat few high GI carbohydrates for energy. Eat protein, give yourself some natural caffeine boosts and adjust your diet slightly on competition days.

Yelena Isinbaeva In Action

Source: Youth Olympic Games on Facebook

Main photo source: Flikr / az1172

More like this in the Diet and Nutrition section

  1 comment for “Yelena Isinbayeva’s Olympic Training Diet

  1. Augusta
    June 22, 2012 at 7:20 pm

    Loved this! Been trying to find a pole vaulting diet! Thank you so much!

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