Olympic Medalist Brent Hayden Shares Essential Health Products for Fitness Pros

Former international swimmer Brent Hayden is a huge name in the fitness world. Hubba was honored to spend time with this Olympic medal winner about what goes into a great health routine while training in terms of habits and of course, the essential health products to support the process. Brent would certainly know what it takes to crush a health regime. He was a bronze medal winner in the 100m freestyle at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, co-World Champion in the same event in 2007 with Filippo Magnini of Italy and became the first Canadian in 21 years to win a gold medal at the World Aquatic Championships. The Hubba team couldn’t be happier or more inspired to share his story of breaking through to be at the top of his game:

H: Starting with your experiences back as a competitive swimmer, what was your pre-competition routine and what did you use to refuel after competition?

BH: The night before competition, I always had a big plate of whole wheat pasta with meat and tomato sauce. It was important to me to get a lot of good carbs while still getting in adequate protein. In the morning I would generally have a bowl of oatmeal and a side of egg. And I would be drinking plenty of water because when I race, my body produces a lot of lactic acid, and I need to be able to flush that out of my system quickly so that my body is able to prepare for the next race. After the race, I would generally refuel with more good carbs and a side of protein and a big salad or broccoli. If I was still at the pool, generally a handful of mixed unsalted nuts, banana, and a partial sports drink.

What is your view on supplements (vitamins, probiotics, energy/meal replacements, protein powder, etc.)?
When I was training, I rarely took supplements. There was a big fear that something I could take potentially had a cross contaminant and I would test positive. So the best way to ensure I didn’t accidentally take something that would show up in a drug test, was just to take nothing at all. I think it’s changed now because so many more companies are offering products that are certified to be free of banned substances. If I were to go back into sport, for sure I would include supplements to boost my nutritional intake.

Are there certain ones that are ‘must-haves’ for you?
If I were to walk into a store today, this is what my list would look like: Protein powder (either a New Zealand sourced isolate, or sprouted vegan) Instantized BCAA’s for intraworkout Glutamine (Japanese grade) Creatine (German grade – look for the “creapure” logo). My overall diet generally changed because as I was gearing up for competition, I wasn’t requiring as much intake to recover and prepare for the next 6km workout.

What about today?
Today I rarely swim. Most of my fitness routine is taken up with resistance/weight training. Because I’m working to add more overall muscle, I’m taking more protein. I’m also including BCAA’s, Glutamine and Creatine in my supplementation routine.
d. What do you look for when you’re choosing a brand to use? I look for brands that carry the “Informed Choice” or “WADA Approved” logo. I also make sure that all products are of the highest quality.

We know you as a world champion swimmer and Olympic medalist – what else should we know about you?

I am super excited to announce that I will be launching my very own line of clothing soon called Astra Athletica. It is an athletic/lifestyle crossover brand, otherwise known as “Athleisure”. It is designed to handle the rigours of your daily workout routine, while being fashionable enough to wear for your regular daily life, whether it’s running errands, or meeting up with friends for coffee in the day, or appetizers in the evening. Whether you’re a professional athlete, or weekend warrior, your goals don’t stop working when you close your locker. Our website will be live soon, in the meantime you can follow us on social media.

I’m also an avid photographer. During my competitive career, I used photography as a means to balance my life. Training and competition is very stressful, so photography was an outlet where I could channel all the negative energy into something positive. Since retirement I’ve had two art shows, and I currently have two pieces in the Cassera Arts Premiers gallery in La Connor, Washington.

Was there any differences between in-competition and regular training? If so, what were they?

Regular training was when you put in the real mileage. Prior to the Beijing games, I was averaging about 5500 – 6500m a workout. After Beijing, we lowered the mileage, and increased the intensity, so I was averaging between 3500 – 4500m a workout heading into the London Games. On top of this, I was doing hot yoga once a week, and weight training twice a week. Add on that massage, physio and chiropractic treatment every week. By the time we were getting ready for competition (tapering), my mileage would drop to anything between 1000 – 3000m, just to keep the engines tuned up, without exhausting myself anymore, and giving my body time to benefit from all the heavy training I had done previously.

Now that you are a complete Fitness Junkie, what has changed in your regime, diet, or anything else vs competitive swimming?

The biggest thing that has changed has been my diet. I thought my diet when I was a competing swimmer was really good. But swimmers are known for eating…a lot! We burn through huge numbers of calories during our workouts, so it’s natural for us to have a big appetite. But when I retired, I knew that I wasn’t going to be able to eat like a swimmer anymore. The unfortunate reality for a lot of swimmers (not all of course) is we don’t see the mistakes we make in our daily diets, even the small ones, because we just burn it off. So I’ve become super analytical about what I put into my body, although I come just shy of actually counting my calories. I learned a lot more about nutrition after I retired because I no longer had our team nutritionist there to tell me what and what not to eat. And so I went from just eating food that was generally healthy, to actually understanding why I needed certain types of foods over others in accordance to my goals.

Do you use any health monitoring devices to track your performance whether it be physical, mental or diet?

When we were training or in competition, we regularly filled out logs to check our body weight flucuations, and even our daily moods. We’d even write down how many hours we slept, and what quality we would rank that sleep. From time to time we would write down a journal of what we ate that week, but I think we could have done this more.

There are all kinds of diets out there (paleo, gluten-free, vegetarian) and products serving those diets. Do you follow a particular diet?
I don’t follow any particular diet trends. I just make sure that I’m getting a good balance of food that pertain to what my particular goals are. Since I am doing a lot of heavy lifting these days, high quality proteins is very essential to me. Also making sure I eat plenty of vegetables and minimizing my carbohydrate intake. The most effective way that I control my eating habits is to first look at how I shop. I do the majority, if not all, of my grocery shopping outside of the aisles, and staying away from anything that comes pre-packaged. On top of that, sleep is hugely important to me. When you workout, you’re actually breaking your body down making yourself weaker. Sleep is where your body repairs itself stronger to better handle the stress that it’s going through.

Just curious, did any brands or products you see participating during Hubba Health & Wellness Week stand out to you?  

There are a number of products that stand out to me! First of course the various protein products such as the Vega One All-In-One Nutritional Shake, which is a great way for someone on-the-go to get a lot of their daily nutritional values.

I’m definitely one of these “on-the-go” people. I’ve always got my travel coffee cup, or re-usable water bottle, or pre-, intra-, post- workout supplement mixer bottle. So my next product would be the Multi Flask from Precidio Design. Now all you need is one bottle for any type of drink you need. Talk about clearing room out of my cabinet! The last one I’ll mention, but really there are so many good products I could write about, is the Clean BCAA from Clean Machine. A lot of companies will source their BCAA’s from hair and bird feathers (EW gross!). But Clean BCAA is derived from all natural, non GMO food sources, including electrolytes from Coconut! I don’t know about you, but that sounds a lot better to me than hair and bird feathers.
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