Who doesn’t love the Olympics? It’s an entire event based around beautiful 20-somethings doing awesome things, like literally flinging themselves down mountains.
As much as I love watching the games, I do sometimes feel bad about myself. I considered it a major win when I went to the gym two weeks ago (I’m still riding off that high—wouldn’t want to strain myself, y’know?), whereas these athletes are training every day, multiple times a day to make sure they’re the best of the best. Still, while I may not have time to be on the Stairmaster everyday, there is a part of the athlete lifestyle that I can do—eating.
When you’re competing at such a high level, making sure your body is at its optimal peak goes beyond just weightlifting next to that cute guy in your Econ. class who may or may not know you exist. In addition to strict training regiments, Olympians adhere to equally strict diets. I mean, sure you can burn off that Big Mac in an hour if you swim like Michael Phelps, but it’s not going to help you recover any faster or train any harder. And, when going home with gold comes down to just fractions of a second, you have to optimize where you can.
So, besides putting down the Micky D’s (scientists are still trying to figure out why the hell the Olympics are sponsored by chicken nuggets), what exactly should you be eating? Interestingly enough, according to CBS current sports nutritionists are turning away from engineered products such as protein powder and sports drinks (sorry, Powerthirst). Instead, they’re looking towards natural foods, such as fruits, veggies, whole grain and dairy products as a way to fuel athletes.
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So, while we the average Joe shouldn’t be eating anywhere near the quantity that Olympians do, here’s a list of some medal-earning foods. Since going to the gym is hard, I’m counting on this to get me to my Spring Break abs.
Yes it looks like a sneeze gone wrong (#sorrynotsorry for that mental image), but man is oatmeal a super food. Forget the fact that it’s a great source of carbs, fiber and protein—oatmeal is also great at keeping energy and sugar levels constant, meaning that there’s no mid-morning slump and you can keep performing all morning long. Boom. Going for gold in extreme couch surfing.
Ring ring ring ring ring ring ring banana (phones) are surprisingly good for you! In addition to providing a good source of potassium, bananas also provide cards that are as effective as the ones in sports gels, with the added bonus of antioxidants. Because of this, most athletes use bananas as a quick source of pre-workout fuel, or recovery afterwards. Both Ussain Bolt and Yohan Blake swear by the fruit, with Yohan Blake eating around 16 per day.
Fact: there is an exponential relationship between personal happiness and the amount of peanut butter in your life. Seriously, peanut butter is ridiculous, both in terms of taste and how much good stuff is in it. It has protein, fiber, vitamin E (known for its antioxidant properties), B-vitamins (helpful in converting food into energy), antioxidants, and can help protect against strokes, Alzheimer’s and gallstones. Eat enough of it and I’m pretty sure it’ll even grant you some wishes. So, while it is very calorie dense, in moderation peanut butter is basically the perfect food.
Seriously. For your post-workout recovery, drinking chocolate milk may be actually be better for you than other drinks. Compared to water, sports drinks and even regular milk, chocolate milk has twice the carbs and protein content, useful in restoring tired muscles. In addition, its high water content prevents against dehydration, and it has the added bonus of both calcium and a little sodium and sugar, which can be used by the body to retain water and keep energy levels high. Plus, it’s pretty damn delicious. Which is nice.
…These are just a small sample of the foods that Olympic athletes eat, but it’s a good start for our couch to 5K ambitions! While eating bananas doesn’t replace the need to go to the gym occasionally, eating right is the first step to getting in shape. And, let’s be honest, literally all of these foods sound better than a power bar.
So, with the fridge stocked and your tennis shoes dusted off, I expect to see you all at the gym. Don’t forget the Nesquik.
Curious about what an actual diet looks like? Check out what an Olympic heavyweight rower goes through in a day. Spoiler alert: they literally do second breakfast.