FiE 2017: Javelin world champion calls for more natural nutrition options


05 Dec 2017 --- Elite athletes are calling for the development of natural sports nutrition solutions, where they can eat less and keep more of the benefits that are in the food inside. This was a key learning from an interview with Germany’s javelin world champion and European Men’s Athlete of the Year 2017, Johannes Vetter, who would like to be able to add more solutions to his intense dietary regimen.

Speaking exclusively to FoodIngredientsFirst at FiE 2017 in Frankfurt last week (see picture), Vetter noted the benefits of nutrition from natural sources. “What I see here at FiE and what everybody saw the last few years is that everyone wants to stay healthy. They want to have the right nutrition from nature and from natural sources. That’s what I’m seeing,” he notes. 

Vetter was present at the Innova Market Insights booth at this year’s FiE, as part of a new marketing campaign for the market research firm. The company has highlighted the mainstreaming of natural sports nutrition that meets the demands of so-called “weekend warriors.” 

Click to EnlargeFor Vetter, the benefits of natural nutrition go to the elite stage too. “I think we are searching for supplements and foods that athletes can better keep in the body and get more of the vitamins and proteins to better perform,” says Vetter. “It is important that the muscles can keep more of their mass. For example, you can eat less and keep more of all the benefits that are in the food. It is not about having to eat more and more in order to get the right vitamins and nutrients.” 

Last summer, 24-year-old Johannes Vetter won gold at the 2017 World Championships in London, with a personal best of 94.44 meters. This German record throw also ranks him second on the all-time list for the javelin. He currently trains under Boris Obergföll and is a member of LG Offenburg's track and field squad. He was previously with SV Saar 05 Saarbrücken and Dresdner SC.

Nutrition is key to Vetter’s training regimen, which has been back in full swing for six weeks following the off-season period (September/October). Competition will begin again in May, so it is a long road of preparation.

“It is really important to know what you eat and how much you eat. At the moment I am in a low carb phase, as since I started training after my off-season. It is currently my seventh week of training and I have to reduce my carb intake as a result,” he says. 

Training is particularly intense and requires a healthy lifestyle, which includes good nutrition. “So at the moment it consists of a lot of vegetables and fruits, proteins and not many carbs, in order to lose some fat at the moment,” he notes. “Of course with the training nutrition I had six weeks of taking creatine and protein too, as well as BCAAs [branched chain amino acids]. I would be taking in one protein shake per day and the last six weeks I have been taking creatine 1-2 times per day to get some more nutrition for a healthy start in the gym,” he adds. 

Click to EnlargeVetter offers some insight into how his regimen changes throughout the year, with creatine and mineral intake varying somewhat, depending on the phase of training or competition. “Creatine makes the muscles really tight and strong and in competition I need to be relaxed and I need major flexibility in my chest and shoulder for the best technique. So I reduce the creatine intake at that time,” he explains.

In the summer competition season, however, mineral intake is key for the javelin champion. “In the summer, I take more magnesium, because it is hot and I’m sweating a lot, so I need to take in minerals, also for the nervous system. For sweating in general the nerves need to be relaxed and you need to be fast,” he adds. 

Vetter’s success illustrates how a whole lifetime of dedication, including the managing of dietary intake is required in order to be the best. His rise is dramatic, as he describes. “I started to do track & field at the age of 6 and I started javelin at the age of 14-15. In 2014, I threw 79.75 meters. Then I changed to my current coach Boris Obergföll and we changed a lot in terms of my technique and my career became increasingly international. In 2015, I reported 85.40 meters and got the seventh place at the World Championships in Beijing. One year after that, I took fourth place at the Rio Olympics and threw 89.57 meters. This year I became world champion with a throw of 89.89 meters but I also threw 94.44 meters (a national record) in this year as well,” he adds. 

He is optimistic going into next year too. “There is no time for fear. I think we have a lot of reserves and we want to take all that energy in,” he concludes, as Tokyo 2020 draws ever closer on the horizon.

By Robin Wyers

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