MealLogger is in use by the Finnish Olympic Committee as a key tool in developing their approach to nutrition coaching within the various sporting academies’ operating environments. About 200 elite athletes have been through a coaching module involving MealLogger so far.
The athletes within the program must be able to train effectively, recover from their training sessions as efficiently as possible, and remain healthy. A diversified and well-balanced diet to support optimal nutrition represents a cornerstone towards achieving these goals. Finnish Olympic committee Sport Nutrition Specialist Anna Ojala brings years of experience using various coaching tools to train the top Finnish athletes that come through the program.
MealLogger was selected for its ability to keep up with the hectic daily lives of the top professional athletes, who need a way to quickly and easily document their meals anywhere and anytime.
“Taking pictures of the meals is easy for the athletes. From the pictures, I get information about their meal content as well as important information about the athletes’ daily schedules and environment, such as if their meals have been eaten at the airport, on the bus, or at home,” Ojala said.
Ojala emphasizes that, as a Sport Nutrition Specialist, some of her most important responsibilities include helping the athletes learn how to succeed on their own in the future, learning how to eat at various stages during a season, and building coaching processes for how to work through challenges that arise due to difficult, unforeseen circumstances. Diet needs to support the development, performance, and health of the athletes in different circumstances. One important lesson for both the athletes and the coaches is to learn how to tailor their diets to fit the requirements of their sport and their training regiments, especially as the amount and intensity of training varies or as conditions change.
“Learning must be structured for the athletes such that it is easy to understand for their individual circumstances. The most frequent cases seen in athletes is to develop an understanding of eating adequate amounts of foods at the right time. In practice, this means getting enough energy and carbohydrates to meet the different needs during different periods of periodization training.”
Through MealLogger, these themes can be easily explored by looking at meal timing rhythms and portion sizes. Some of the athletes also benefit from a more accurate calculation of their nutritional needs. Ojala describes MealLogger as being a beneficial tool in getting an overall picture of the athletes’ situations and how to design programs to best support their learning and development needs.
Based on the work done with these elite athletes, MealLogger will be expanding from the Helsinki and Tampere metropolitan areas to 6 major Sports Academies in Finland and to the wider Sports Academy network.