Food and sport have always been an inseparable combination: athlete Elisa di Francisca, Olympic fencing champion in London 2012, silver medal in Rio de Janeiro and now new mother of the little Ettore, also knows this well. We decided to gather her testimony, not only as a sportswoman with exceptional results but also as a person passionate about good food and high-quality ingredients.
An interview which, starting from inquiring about her daily habits and rituals, aims to provide everyone with an example of proper nutrition, tailored in her case to a model of athletic life and always on the move, but no reason for not applying and modelling its main guidelines to the diet of each one of us.
The protagonist of this conversation is high-quality extra virgin olive oil, a typical product of our land, never missing in the advice of every nutritionist biologist and able to amaze us because of its many benefits, confirmed by continuous scientific research aimed at studying the possible effects on health of this very special and essential condiment of the Mediterranean Diet and that of all sportsmen and sportswomen, whether at competitive level or not.
For a sportsman or sportswoman can an incorrect diet affect the chances of a good performance?
Absolutely, an incorrect diet can influence physical condition and therefore the competition. Precisely for this reason, we athletes are called on to show maximum attention and constant care in terms of nutrition because nutrition is closely connected to the success of an exercise and thus of a performance.
I am not just referring to dosages and quantities, about which there are criteria of measurement and balance, but also to quality, which must be at the base of everything we bring to the table and that accompanies us before and after physical effort.
Extra virgin olive oil is one of the most nutritious, healthy and precious foods for our body. To what extent is it present in your diet?
Extra virgin olive oil is always present in my diet and especially in the one that comes before the sporting performance. Almost every dish in my weekly diet has a correct dose of high-quality extra virgin olive oil: this is not only a question of nutrition but also of taste, an element not to be underestimated as an engine of good mood and energy boost in my everyday life.
Could you name one dish made with extra virgin olive oil that often recurs in your menus and that can be made in a few quick steps?
A dish that I eat often and that requires the use of extra virgin olive oil is bresaola with raw vegetables on top. It is not just a tasty, delicious and complete meal from a nutritional point of view, but also a quick recipe to make, ideal for training days on a tight schedule and not very elaborate dishes that can be prepared in a few steps.
In your diet, during training and the phase that precedes the sporting performance, does extra virgin olive oil remain a constant?
Extra virgin olive oil is very important for my diet and I have at least two teaspoons in almost every dish. I cannot do without it and the benefits that I draw from this dosage are now the result of years of experience and therefore of full knowledge of my body and its needs.
Do you sometimes bend the rules and have something fried? In this case, do you opt for extra virgin olive oil or seed oil? Why?
At least once a month I allow myself something fried, strictly using extra virgin olive oil. It is an occasion that accustoms my body to a more complex digestion and gives my spirit a reason for joy and satisfaction, as well as often coinciding with convivial moments, in which high-quality fries go hand in hand with chatting and fun among friends.
For us, the Mediterranean Diet is an occasion of pride in the world because it is healthy, varied and complete. How important is the choice of raw materials and the guarantee (in terms of food safety) related to what you bring to the table?
The Mediterranean Diet is fundamental for us sports professionals and constitutes an important occasion of pride, if supported by a good raw material.
Nutrition experts recommend opting for high quality-products that are traceable, healthy and genuine, compliant with scrupulously calibrated nutritional models and therefore able to contribute to psycho-physical well-being and the successful outcome of athletic performance.
It is a great heritage always at our disposal, a gift that a generous land like ours continues to offer us daily, allowing us to excel in the world not only from a culinary but also sports point of view, given the level of care for the body that derives from it.