Abby Wambach may currently have her sights set on the London Games—especially since a broken leg prevented her from competing in the 2008 Olympics—but this powerhouse forward also possesses a lesser-known dream: to open up her own restaurant. In this edited interview, Wambach talks about her cooking skills and the “unhealthy” foods that will always be a part her performance-enhancing diet.
We heard that you love cooking. How did you get interested in that?
My mother is the inspiration behind my love of cooking. I’m the youngest of seven, and my mom always wanted to keep us out of the kitchen—it’s hectic dealing with seven children and a husband and having to prepare meals for all of them. But being the youngest, I got to stay in the kitchen at watch her cook. Cooking for nine people is an art and I think my mom really did a fantastic job.
What types of foods do you like to prepare for yourself at home?
For breakfast, I’ll usually go for a solid smoothie or maybe eggs. (Video: Make a protein-packed smoothie) At lunch I’m always having a sandwich on 100 percent whole wheat bread—I prefer Arnold/Oroweat. I’m always sure to make them a little different every day so I don’t get sick of them. For example, I love to mix mayonnaise and hot sauce to make a spicy mayo. I will never give up mayonnaise. Or cheese, or butter, or bread!
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What kind of nutrition challenges do you have as an athlete?
As an athlete you want to make sure that you’re getting the right things in your system. When you leave the field after a game, you’re already preparing for the next training session or the next game. There are so many diets out there that say this is good or that’s not good. For an athlete, science doesn’t lie. You need to have carbohydrates for your muscles to work properly. And for me I know that carbohydrates are a huge part of my diet. Having a good diet is part of my job. It’s something that will make me perform better.
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How important are recovery foods?
Directly after any training or game you’ve got to get protein and carbohydrates into your system. (Search: Best recovery foods) We’re built like machines: Once you expend a certain amount of energy, you’ve got to put some stuff back in to maintain your weight, to maintain your health, to maintain your muscle mass, and to allow your muscles to recover.
How do you maintain a healthful diet when you’re traveling abroad, especially in foreign countries where the food may be unfamiliar?
When we travel it can be very difficult to keep to a certain regimen. Sometimes there are sacrifices that need to be made. Thankfully we have a strength and conditioning coach who makes up all of our meals when we’re with the team. But the truth is, your diet is habit. If something you once used to indulge in isn’t in your diet anymore, you won’t tend to go toward it. So when you’re overseas, whether it’s French fries or burgers, you have to be confident in the lifestyle choices that you’ve made.