How I fuel: Morgan Lake
© Greg Coleman / Red Bull Content Pool
The British higher jumper on her daily eating habits, fuelling for elite competition and busting the myth that carbs make you fat…
Like most track and field athletes, British high jumper Morgan Lake's training schedule is planned down to the minute.
Her training involves more than just working on jumping itself – there are hours of sprints on the track to build power, speed and rhythm for her run-up; endurance training via longer runs and hill repeats; strength and conditioning work in the gym with Olympic lifting and high-jump-specific exercises; plus active rest and flexibility training via yoga.
Central to all of this is a well-planned nutrition strategy. Morgan trains daily at Loughborough University in between studying for a degree, so her nutrition is essential in helping her get through the hours of gruelling high jump training, as well as her studies.
Here, she reveals what she eats on an average day before, during and after training, as well as what she eats to fuel her performance on competition day...
What is an average day’s meals?
In the morning for breakfast, I usually have avocado on toast with two poached eggs, and a cup of coffee. My alternative breakfast is a bowl of porridge topped with chopped dates, frozen berries, a lot of peanut butter and granola on top. Then I’ll do a training session, and afterwards usually drink a Red Bull, as I need the energy for the next session. Then, during the break for lunch, I’ll have something like a tuna pita – something carby with high protein that’s not too filling. Then I’ll do a strength and conditioning session in the gym, after which I’ll have a protein shake or a protein yoghurt, then another snack in the late afternoon. Dinner is usually whatever I have in the house! It’s often something quick and easy like a stir-fry with chicken or tofu.
How easy is it to plan and prepare your meals around studying and training?
I spend a lot of unnecessary money at uni on food – going to the café and the shops and stuff. There’s always a lot of healthy options, which is good, and the café is only a two-minute walk away from the track and the gym, and the same radius from my lectures. I do try and prepare as well. I make sure I do a big shop at the beginning of the week and, if I’m making dinner, I’ll make sure I make enough for the next day for lunch as well. So yeah, a bit of organisation there but not all the time.
You must be constantly hungry…
I think when I come home my parents are always a bit worried because I’m just constantly hungry. They're like, “What are you doing?” So yes, I am definitely always hungry, so I have a lot of snacks on the go.
The evening before a big competition, is there a go-to meal you have?
It depends. I’ll usually have something like chicken and then some sort of carb – maybe sweet potato or pasta, or a wrap. That’s what I tend to go towards but there’s nothing in particular I always have. Nothing too exciting!
Do you change your diet on competition days?
I don’t change it too much, as I don’t know how my body will react. I eat a little less on competition days, as obviously it’s more about performance rather than recovery. I usually have the same breakfast as normal, often porridge. I’ll graze on snacks throughout the day then have a Red Bull about 45 minutes to an hour before my competition. Weirdly, I had a dream the other night where I was on my run-up to jump and realised I hadn’t had my Red Bull, so I ran to the other side of the track to get one from the fridge and they didn’t have any! Really strange.
What do you snack on throughout the day?
Nakd raw fruit and nut bars, as they are easy to chuck in my bag and take with me. I also make up quick yoghurt bowls, which are good for a quick protein hit.
What’s your favourite food?
Peanut butter. I’ve tried all the brands, but my current favourite is Pip & Nut.
One of the big things I’ve learned is to not be afraid of carbs. There’s a lot of stigma about them making you fat, but they are a hugely important food group for ensuring you have enough energy and enough power to fuel your workout
What do you eat post-competition?
Chocolate. Any type – white, dark, milk – I don’t care what it is. I’ve given it up for Lent at the moment, so I'm missing it even more.
What’s your all-time favourite meal?
This may sound a bit odd, but it’s pizza with aubergine and garlic. Strange one, but it’s really good.
What do you cook if people come over to your house for dinner?
A Thai green curry, probably with tofu but sometimes with chicken – it depends who is coming over.
There’s a lot of conflicting messages on social media around nutrition. What are your top nutrition tips for the everyday athlete?
One of the big things I’ve learned is to not be afraid of carbs. There’s a lot of stigma about them making you fat, but they are a hugely important food group for ensuring you have enough energy and power to fuel your workout, and to recover afterwards as well. So making sure you’ve got an equal balance between protein and carbs, and not just having protein the whole time, because you’re not going to get the same results as you think.
To find out more about how Morgan and other Red Bull athletes train, fuel and think, head to the Red Bull Pro hub.