Cooking on campus with top athletes: "Nutrition is just as important as training"

Erasmus Food Lab organised a cooking course for our top athletes
Erasmus Food Lab - kookcursus topsporters
Nur Al Jawahiri Excelsior Vrouwen

There are close to 100 top-level athletes at our university. One of the most important aspects of top-class sport is nutrition. What do you eat as a top athlete? How much do you eat? And when? In the Erasmus Food Lab a cooking workshop was organised for some of our top athletes. "People always think that top-class sport consists of training. But recovering is just as important and food is a very important part of that", says Irene van der Reijken, athlete and sixth-year medical student.

Banana and oatmeal pancake

Combining high-level sports and top-level studies is a challenge. Therefore, the top athletes receive support from the university, Erasmus Sport and Rotterdam Topsport. Nur Al Jawahiri is happy with it. She is a football player for Excelsior Rotterdam Women and first-year medical student. "I can arrange something with my teacher when there is a compulsory lesson that I cannot attend. So far, I can pretty much combine it."

The football player is consciously and unconsciously very involved with nutrition: "I train every day, so I have to eat enough. Also for my recovery. At the club we have a sponsor who arranges protein shakes and sports bars for us. They think about that too." Her tip for a healthy and tasty breakfast: banana pancakes. "That's banana, oatmeal, milk and eggs. Tasty and healthy too. I like sweet things in the morning. You don't need to add anything sweet because the bananas are already sweet. It is a good idea to use slightly older bananas. We are also publishing a cookbook with Excelsior. This recipe will also be in it."

Studenten koken in Food Lab
Nur Al Jawahiri, voetballer Excelsior Vrouwen

"Puzzling what works best for you"

Selma Konijn is in her first year at our university: the pre-master Pedagogical Sciences in the direction of Orthopedagogics. She is also one of the top Dutch canoeists. "You have to paddle as hard as possible to the finish. I participate in competitions all over the world. My goal is to reach the Olympics."

Canoeing is really a strength sport. There, too, nutrition is important for recovery. "I already knew a lot about nutrition. Today it was emphasised again that proteins before going to sleep are important. Your resting heart rate is higher during the first part of your sleep because you are still digesting the nutrients. If you really notice this, you can also eat the protein two hours before you go to sleep. What works best is a puzzle for everyone. It's really different for each person."

During the cooking course, Selma also learnt tricks for the kitchen: putting vegetables in the blender and making stock of them for risotto. "I have never done that before, but it is a good way to eat lots of vegetables. I am going to do that at home too. We cooked the risotto in the sauce and it really gave it a different flavour."

Topsporter Selma Konijn
Selma Konijn, kanosprinter

"Actually, I eat whatever I feel like"

The first Dutch woman at the Olympics in the steeplechase event is Irene van der Reijken. Steeplechase is an obstacle course on the athletics track with beams and water bowls. For the sixth-year medical student, it is especially important to maintain her weight. "Endurance athletes quickly become too light. Many people think that light people are fast, but it actually makes them susceptible to injury. And that you no longer have any energy for training and competitions. Eating enough is important."

Irene does not pay much attention to her diet. "I eat whatever I feel like eating. I don't count calories and I also eat biscuits. But generally I eat healthy. Nine times out of ten it is vegetarian. I try to eat a lot of vegetables."

Irene van der Reijken, atlete
Atlete Irene van der Reijken in het midden

Cup of chocolate milk is part of it too

The nutritionist also had tips for top athletes. "I learned that you have to drink during training. I knew it somewhere, but I never took it into account. I am going to do that now. You quickly lose too much fluid. Not good for your recovery, but also for how you feel the rest of the day. During track training, I can have a drink after the warm-up."

The Olympic athlete believes that the golden post-workout tip is a cup of chocolate milk. "It really makes you feel better after a hard workout. Good to get the sugars in and also tasty."

More information

Athlete Irene van der Reijken went to the Olympics. Follow her sports adventure:

Elite sports and university education. How does that go together?

Related content
The new sports centre, that will be put into use in 2022, takes shape and is sustainable, energy-neutral and partly circular.
Madelein Meppelink (31) participated in the Olympic Games last summer. What is it like to be a top athlete and to follow a study at the same time?
Portret Madelein Meppelink

Compare @count study programme

  • @title

    • Duration: @duration
Compare study programmes