Michael Phelps, the swimming champion, shocked the world in 2008 with his Olympic diet. However, not every elite athlete has the same exuberant way of eating.
But let’s start first with Michael Phelps. He said that he would start his day with three sandwiches with eggs, lettuce, cheese, tomatoes, fried onions, and mayonnaise. All this was followed by a five-egg omelet, French toast, grits, and chocolate pancakes.
The lunch and dinner would consist of two pounds of pasta, pizza, and sandwiches. In total, Michael Phelps would consume 12,000 calories each day, which would be five times more than the daily recommended intake.
However, the swimmer said that in the last years he started to train and to eat much less than at the last Olympics.
The eating habits of athletes vary very much. Most of the sportsmen and sportswomen are very careful with their diets. They usually eat very clean, and in small quantities.
A survey organized by the SB Nation and Eater showed that the Olympic diet includes vast proportions of kale, oatmeal, and Greek yogurt. No pizza and no pancakes during training.
For example, a gymnast would eat asparagus and grilled chicken at lunch, with a total energy intake limited at 2,000-2,500 calories every day.
The change of diet appeared only in the last few years because the differences between the athletes on the podium and those who did not get to medals are becoming smaller and smaller. Therefore, more performers turn to nutrition in the hope of getting an advantage in the competition.
Sports nutritionists say that all over the world, athletes pay attention to what they are eating. The change happened only recently, in the last two generations.
Another example comes from soccer players, where a sportswoman would have a smoothie and bowl of noodle soup for lunch, but the total intake would not surpass 3,000-4,500 calories a day.
When it comes to elite endurance athletes, a recent survey showed that they eat everything, but they would prefer high-quality foods, natural and unprocessed. They didn’t restrict their meals to particular foods and even indulged in occasional sweets or drinks.
Athletes are not obsessed with calories. They make sure that their diet contains enough nutrients and quality foods.
Other sports, such as kayaking or shooting, need a daily energy intake of 2,500-3,500 calories, which could comprise a grilled chicken and a salad for lunch.
However, the daily intake varies greatly between sports. For example, wrestling demands weight restrictions, meaning a daily intake of calories limited at 1,200-1,500.
The aesthetic and weight class athletes are the ones with the lowest energy consumption of all. They usually use less energy while training and they have to control their weight before competing.
Especially weight-class athletes do all types of tricks before competition in order to adjust their body weight. They use dehydration techniques to lose water weight or have a lunch made of kale, turmeric, ginger, and beets.
The reader should keep in mind that exercise actually consumes fewer calories than expected.
Another challenge of the Olympic diet is to gather all the needed nutrients into a small quantity of foods, and when an athlete has a limit of 1,200 calories a day, it may be tough to find such high-concentrated foods.
On the contrary, endurance athletes need a lot of carbohydrates. Swimmers, rowers, runners, and marathoners require having available energy to spend during their activity.
For example, rowers will need 8,000-10,000 calories each day, while they train up to 30 hours per week and most of them are over 6 feet tall and weight around 220 pounds.
Weightlifting athletes need fewer calories and more protein, which would help them build muscles. They prefer meat and eggs, accompanied by vegetables, rice, and fruits.
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