What Do Olympians eat? Do you want to eat the Olympian way? Going for the Olympic gold doesn’t only require very intense training but also a serious commitment to a healthy diet. Nutritious Life Meals founder and registered dietitian Keri Glassman shared the food secrets of some Olympic athletes in “Good Morning America” last week. If you want to follow a healthy diet, you can’t find regimens healthier than these.
Olympians pig out on calories everyday, thousands of calories. They need them. They can afford to devour a pound of pasta, a whole pizza, a pint of ice cream, or a dozen eggs in a single day and even a single sitting because their intense workouts can burn through thousands of calories, too. These calories need to be constantly replenished to give them fuel for the next exercise, so they can work even harder, delay fatigue, and recover faster, explained Glassman.
These athletes also have peculiar tastes in snacks. Jamaican sprinter Yohan Blake, for example, who beat Olympic champion Usain Bolt during the Olympic trials gets his energy from bananas; more specifically, he snacks on 16 bananas per day. Beach volleyball player Kerry Walsh, a two-time Olympic medalist from the U.S., prefers honey and almond butter sandwiches. Glassman says almond butter is loaded with healthy fats, calories, and protein. Loading up on protein is important to protect the muscles against fatigue during exercise as well as to keep hunger at bay.
The rigorous training these athletes go through also means their bodies have special nutritional needs to help in recovery. Glassman says American Aly Raisman, from the U.S. gymnastics team, gets her fill of much-needed proteins and carbohydrates from chocolate milk after an intense training or competition. Swimmer Ryan Lochte helps his body recover by eating whole-grain spaghetti, grilled chicken breasts with Alfredo sauce, and a salad drizzled with olive oil and lemon juice. Lochte’s demanding strength-training regimen includes tossing beer kegs, dragging shipyard chains, and flipping tractor tires.
According to Glassman, drinking pickle juice is already a great way to help the body recover. Pickles are high in sodium, potassium, and magnesium; sodium is important to prevent muscles from cramping. Another effective recovery food that Glassman recommends are antioxidant-rich sweet tart cherries. Antioxidants can prevent inflammation that the body may experience after exercise. To help boost performance, many Olympic athletes drink beet juice; the nitrates in beets promote efficient utilization of oxygen by the muscles.