When it comes to fueling the bodies of those stunning Olympic athletes, the right diet plays a key role in determining who gets a coveted medal and who goes home empty-handed. Curious to see what those at the top of the sports world eat to compete? Check out the top five most unexpected diets in the Olympics.
Ryan Lochte: 7 to 8,000 Calories Daily
Ryan Lochte has a need for speed and also a need for pizza and wings. The competition-driven swimmer told Bon Appetit that he carefully plans his diet to equal a specific calorie count.
Initially, he admits he had problems putting down that much food. But Lochte has learned to cope.
“I don’t get sick of [eating],” he shared. “When I first started [professionally swimming], I was eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and now I’ve stopped. I was just constantly eating, and I was getting tired of eating.”
But that was 12 years ago, and now Ryan has a different attitude about his diet.
“If I’m not eating, then something is wrong.”
So what does it take to come up with a diet that totals 8,000 calories? For breakfast, Lochte believes in the power of eggs. He consumes spinach, ham, and tomatoes with those five to six eggs, along with some form of potatoes, such as hash browns. He also consumes pancakes, oatmeal, fruit, and French vanilla coffee with one sugar and cold milk.
But it’s not just the calories that count. Ryan also plans out the amount of protein and carbohydrates that he consumes. One week prior to competing, he devotes his meals to loading up on carbohydrates such as pasta, while incorporating protein such as chicken and steak.
Vegan Athletes Turn To Tofu
But even though some Olympians focus on packing away the calories and protein by gobbling up foods that moo and squawk, vegan athletes do exist. Plant-based diets are used by a variety of different Olympians, pointed out Bustle.
Cam Awesome, for example, is a boxer showcasing his skills for the United States at the Rio Olympics. He’s described as a “proud vegan,” advocating plant-based diets.
Tennis queen Venus Williams already has earned four Olympic gold medals, and she began following a raw food vegan diet when she learned she had Sjögrens Syndrome, which causes dry eyes and dry mouth by attacking the healthy cells that produce tears and saliva. And she’s candid about the challenges of her plant-based diet, describing herself as a “cheagan” (cheating vegan).
Using Diet Supplements And Sports Foods
The word supplements has sometimes been linked to banned substances. But at the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS), Dr. Louise Burke helps Australian athletes aiming for an Olympic medal by guiding them on their diet including supplements and sports foods, reported Sports Illustrated.
“Our philosophy is that it is the athlete’s responsibility to make the final decision about the involvement of supplements and sports foods in their nutrition plans,” she emphasized.
Consequently, the AIS provides guidance to athletic organizations in addition to offering resources for individual athletes, with the ultimate goal established as the “safe, ethical and evidence-based uses of supplements and sports foods.”
McDonald’s: Olympians Love Fast Food
While some athletes are measuring those supplements or cutting up tofu slices, others are heading to McDonald’s for a burger and fries, reported the Daily Mail.
Melanie Schlanger, an Australian swimmer, views the ability to have unlimited amounts of McDonald’s food as one of the best parts of the Olympics.
“It’s not uncommon to see a large majority of the swimmers from around the world in the dining hall pounding the free McDonald’s at 4 am,” she revealed.
The free fast food orgies usually occur after an athlete finishes competing, and then it’s a free-for-all.
“Each athlete lines up to order 27 cheese burgers, 40 chicken McNuggets, 12 sundaes and a Diet Coke before collecting the food and walking away without needing to pay.”
Soup And Ice Cream Diet
And for those who assume that, in general, Olympic-caliber athletes tend to eat the same foods, consider the unusual diet choices of boxer Nicola Adams, reported by the Mirror.
Although Nicola noshes on cereal for breakfast, with chicken complemented by rice and vegetables for lunch, dinner consists of soup. Adams lists ice cream as her ultimate favorite food.
“I enjoy all kinds of soups really – tomato soup, chicken, chicken and vegetable,” she explained. “My go-to comfort food would be ice cream, I absolutely love it. Either strawberry and cream or just plain vanilla.”
[Photo by Mark J. Terrill/AP Images]