An olympian’s nationality isn’t the only thing that distinguishes their diet, as sport plays an equally significant role in determining pre-and-postgame meals. Gone are the days of cookie-cutter diet regimens that put a generalized blanket over nutrition needs. For olympic athletes who train dozens of hours every week, proper food intake is crucial to go for the gold.
Here are dietary trends among the Olympics top athletes:
Gymnasts like Simone Biles benefit from compact muscular frames to generate explosive spins and flips. According the Harvard Medical School, a four-hour gymnastics workout can burn 1,000 calories.
While the sport often carries a reputation for having highly restrictive diets, Biles tells The New Yorker
her diet includes pork chops, chicken sandwiches and even the occasional soft drink. The ideal diet for a gymnast is one that contains at least 2,000 calories and is low in fat, high in complex carbohydrates and high in fiber, according to LiveScience and USA Gymnastics
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While processed foods are widely considered detrimental, not all elite athletes consume meals straight out of the garden. In his memoir Faster than Lightning: My Autobiography, Usain Bolt—the world's fastest man—said he made it through the 2008 Beijing Olympics almost exclusively on chicken nuggets, French fries and McDonald's apple pies
, consuming about 1,000 nuggets during his 10-day stay. On the other hand, nine-time medal winner Carl Lewis said he won most of his Olympic medals while sticking to a vegan or vegetarian diet. Either way, the excessive calories seem to be popular amongst short and long distance runners.
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Only the breakfast-diet of the most decorated Olympian ever—Michael Phelps—is said to include three fried-egg sandwiches, a five-egg omelet, one bowl of grits, maize porridge, three slices of French toast with powdered sugar and three chocolate chip pancakes on the side.
Throughout the day, Phelps powers through his workouts by consuming energy-dense nutritional shakes and mass, mass amounts of food. It was rumored that the athlete consumed 12,000 calories a day to power his 5-hours-a-day, six-day-a-week Olympic training regimen.He explained to Yahoo News
that he actually doesn’t count calories. He said, “Whether it's Sour Patch Kids or Reese's or a bag of chips, if I feel like eating it, I'm going to eat it. For recovery, I think it's a big deal to eat within a half-hour after you exercise. Otherwise, I just try to put carbs into my system before I swim and then load up on the protein after.”
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