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Fueling five sports: Eat for strength

Jan. 3, 2012 - 12:33PM   |   Last Updated: Jan. 3, 2012 - 12:33PM  |  
Army Spc. Dennis Bowsher — Modern pentathlete (The Associated Press)

Sample day:

• 7:30 a.m.: Bowl of granola with milk; omelet with veggies, ham, chicken and cheese
• 11:15 a.m.: Handful of fruit, toast with peanut butter and honey
• 1 p.m.: Fish, rice, potatoes (small portions prior to swim training)
• 3:45 p.m.: Shake made with a powder mix chocolate milk
• 5:30 p.m.: Small bowl of pasta with meat sauce
• 7:30 p.m.: Salad, soup, chicken, mixed veggies
• Guilty pleasure: Likes to grab pizza with friends every couple of weeks.

Army Spc. Dennis Bowsher grew up swimming and added cross country and track in high school. But after seeing a modern pentathlon demonstration, he knew that was the sport for him.

Bowsher went on to win junior nationals his first year and is now gunning for the 2012 Olympics. Modern pentathlon events include epee fencing, pistol shooting, 200-meter freestyle swim, show jumping on horseback and a 3-kilometer cross-country run.

Pentathletes need to eat for strength, stamina, agility and mental sharpness. "Food is my fuel for the next practice or competition, and it's impossible for me to perform at an elite level without eating right," says the member of the Army's World Class Athlete Program.

Bowsher says he didn't pay much attention to diet when he was younger. He made a change when he noticed he wasn't recovering from workouts as quickly. Switching to five or six smaller meals throughout the day allowed Bowsher to properly time his calories to fuel before, snack during and recover after his multiple daily workouts. Sunday is his rest day, but he maintains the same consistent diet, with a balance of proteins, fats and carbs.

"I can feel myself getting stronger when I eat well," he says.

Diet overview: Bowsher resides at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo., where the dining hall displays the nutritional content of each dish, and OTC coaches have helped him focus his nutrition.

A typical day includes fruit, toast with peanut butter, chocolate milk (his favorite post-run drink thanks to its protein-carb ratio), salad, pasta and meat sauce, vegetables and chicken. He aims to drink enough water to have light yellow urine and avoids candy, fast food and anything fried.

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