Crazy Olympic Calories: What They Eat and Why

07/30/2012

Olympic swimmers photoOlympic athletes train hour after hour all day long. Even in the off season, their lives revolve around getting their bodies ready to compete and fueling their long daily workouts.

What do some of the most sought-after Olympic athletes eat? How do they fuel their practices and why? 

Garret Weber-Gale, a swimmer, eats an abundance of calories because of his grueling workout schedule, but his high blood pressure means choosing a mostly plant-based diet that includes whole grain cereal for breakfast with flax seeds, almond milk, and berries. He snacks on dried fruits, shakes, and peanut butter and jelly. Lunch is made up of fruits, vegetables, and veggie burgers or tacos. The diet is mostly vegetarian except for red meat and fish a few times per week into order to get enough hemoglobin. Weber-Gale also has a website, the Athletic Foodie, where he discusses all things yummy. 

Michael Arnstein is a marathon runner who became a vegan at age 26. Today he follows a 80/10/10 raw vegan diet. It’s 80 percent fruits and vegetables, 10 percent protein, and 10 percent fat. In fact, Arnstein calls himself a Fruitarian, "I immediately adopted the ‘80/10/10’ low-fat raw plant diet after reading the book in January 2008. I have become more and more dedicated as I continue to eat this way, and refined my diet to be closer to ‘955’ or 90% carbs, 5% protein, 5% fat – basically I don’t eat overt fats as they don’t make me feel good." 

Carli Lloyd, a midfielder on the U.S. Women’s Soccer Team tries not to cheat on her diet because the makeup of her diet plan perfectly fuels her workouts and she’s unwilling to sacrifice performance for a momentary blip on the radar. She eats scrambled eggs with fruit shakes for breakfast along with steel cut oats. For lunch she enjoys chicken salad and for dinner fish or chicken. For snacks she eats edamame. 

Ashton Eaton, is a Decathlon track and field athlete with a big appetite for eggs, turkey bacon, toast, and Greek yogurt with muesli for breakfast. He snacks on granola and protein shakes and feasts on tuna melts for lunch. At dinner he loads his plate with veggies as well as fish. chicken, or red meat. 

These athletes eat throughout the day to avoid becoming famished. While some diets are much more extreme than others, all the athletes avoid getting too far off their diet path because it has real consequences for their training. 

Photo: Thinkstock 

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Sara Novak writes about health and wellness for Discovery Health. Her work is also regularly featured in Breathe Magazine and on SereneKitchen.com. She has written extensively on food policy, food politics, and food safety.


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