06/25/2012 05:31 pm ET Updated Jun 25, 2012

Garrett Weber-Gale, Swimmer And Olympic Medalist, Talks Nutrition And His Blog 'Athletic Foodie'

Olympic medalist and Team USA hopeful Garrett Weber-Gale credits his plant-based, low-sodium diet with his competitive edge in the pool, according to a new profile of the swimmer in USA Today.

After being diagnosed with hypertension as a college student in 2005, Weber-Gale began to pay attention to his diet in a new way. Previously, he'd eaten takeout and restaurant fare and didn't know how to cook for himself. But after doctors told him that training with such high blood pressure could put him at greater risk for heart attack and stroke, Weber-Gale swapped packaged foods for homemade versions and now makes his own soups, salad dressings and sauces.

He even curtailed his sugar intake, according to a separate Sports Illustrated profile. "Eating a really ripe nectarine or a great mango makes me really, really, like so very happy," he told the magazine. "There are great things the earth gives us instead of Oreos. Why not enjoy them."

And that realization fueled an interest in spreading the word about nutrition, wellness and the discipline it takes to improve both on his blog, Athletic Foodie. The swimmer not only blogs about nutrition, he also participates in cooking demonstrations and outreach events -- and has even logged some time cooking and apprenticing in top restaurant kitchens, including Noma -- a Copenhagen restaurant that was recently voted the best in the world by a panel convened by Restaurant Magazine.

"Cooking and swimming are similar in the sense that it's not hard to get better at them, but it's a challenge to get really good," Weber-Gale told USA Today. "It's a puzzle to see how it all works. And I really love challenges and figuring out how I can be better."