Athlete’s kitchen – what the pros eat

Enhanced training adaptations, rapid recovery and peak performance – as an athlete, you soon notice how the right nutrition makes a difference. But what do professional athletes really eat?


Our first glance behind the scenes takes us into the kitchen of Germany’s para-cyclist, multiple Paralympic champion and Rio 2016 gold medallist in time trial, Michael Teuber: “Especially during recovery phases, or on days when my muscles come under intense strain, I have a real crave for beef – and I listen to what my body is telling me. Without meat, I’m really lacking something! So one of my most successful recipes is a tri-tip cut of American beef with special chimichurri sauce.” First and foremost, beef supplies high-quality protein which is important for building and repairing muscles. Secondly, it is also a good source for the micronutrients iron and zinc, minerals that are essential (amongst others) for a healthy immune system and energy metabolism. The fresh mix of herbs in Michael’s special chimichurri sauce contains loads of other ingredients that are vital to well-balanced sports nutrition.

But it’s not only about the right nutrients – it also has to taste good. “The recipe packs plenty of flavour, something that I find really important”, the pro athlete adds. Michael is famous for his outstanding barbecue skills: “I’ve picked up a few barbecue tricks, but I’ve never really learnt the art of cooking.”




Tri-tip of American beef with special chimichurri sauce (serves approx. 4)


The tri-tip joint can be cooked whole or as cubes threaded onto a skewer. I like to buy a big joint, weighing about three pounds, of succulent all-American beef, but home-grown beef is just as good – pasture grazing is essential when it comes to taste, of course. As the joint is pretty big, take it out of the fridge a few hours before cooking so that the middle isn’t too cold, otherwise it won’t turn out so well.



You need the following ingredients for my special chimichurri sauce:


  • 50 g flat-leaf parsley
  • 75 g coriander leaves
  • 25 g mint leaves
  • 5 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp coarse sea salt
  • 200 ml olive oil
  • 3 shallots, diced
  • A little chopped chili
  • Freshly ground black pepper


Step 1: 

Wash, dry and finely chop the herbs and mix with the remaining ingredients, then leave to infuse for about 20 minutes. That’s all you have to do, luckily – I’m hardly a chef, but even I can manage that!


Step 2:

Now for the barbecue. It’s a good idea to use a steak thermometer, otherwise it’s difficult to judge how well the meat is cooked. You should also have two zones on the barbecue, one with direct and one with indirect heat. I sear the meat on all sides directly over the embers. About 2-3 minutes on each side is about right. Then move the meat to the side to continue cooking with indirect heat. I tend to cook the meat until it’s medium-rare, so I wait about 15 minutes until the core temperature almost reaches 55°C.


Step 3: 

Then I remove the meat from the grill and wrap it in foil, turn it over and place it on a wooden board so that the juices disperse. After about five minutes I unwrap the meat and grill it again for about one minute on each side to enhance the smoky flavour. If everything has gone to plan – which it should if you stick to the instructions – the perfectly cooked joint can now be sliced and savoured with the special chimichurri sauce. 


You could serve a couple of baked potatoes and some grilled vegetables on the side for a simple, yet really tasty and nutritionally balanced barbecue meal.




Michael Teuber



© Corinne Mäder Reinhard, Senior EU Sports Nutrition Manager PowerBar. International Olympic Committee post-graduate Diploma in Sports Nutrition