Whether you’ve been inspired to take up a sport as a result of the Olympics, or you’re simply intrigued to know what a professional athlete diet plan looks like, you may be surprised to know that not all sportsmen and women have the same nutritional needs. Here’s what some well-known Olympic athletes eat when training for a big event.
Fuel for the Pool – Michael Phelps’ Amazing Calorie Consumption
Back in 2012, Michael Phelps revealed that he was consuming a whopping 12,000 calories a day while training for the London Olympics – that’s almost five times the amount that the NHS states men need for weight maintenance purposes(2,500 calories per day).
Jenny Dawes, a nutritionist and personal trainer, told the Daily Mail that male swimmers competing regularly would normally require around 6,000 calories per day but Michael’s training schedule would be tougher, so he would need more.
You’d imagine that anyone with an athletic physique like Phelps, who won six medals at Rio 2016, bringing his Olympic total to 28, would avoid junk food, but his Olympic athlete diet plan included fried egg sandwiches, pizza and energy drinks, as well as a kilogram of pasta each day.
This might look like an artery-clogging combination but, according to Dawes, it wasn’t unhealthy for Phelps, due to his training regime. “His cholesterol intake is very high but by constantly swimming, there is no time for the cholesterol to stick to his arteries,” she said.
The Importance of Discipline – Nicola Adams’ Professional Athlete Diet Plan
Nicola Adams’s Olympic athlete diet plan is obviously working to perfection, as the British boxer successfully defended the title she won at London 2012 in Rio.
Like most Olympic athletes, Nicola trains for around six hours each day, so needs to eat enough to fuel her body, whilst ensuring that she stays at her boxing weight of 51kg.
Her boxing coach and nutritionist work with her to prepare tasty, balanced meals which are then delivered to her door once a week.
“Everything’s freshly made for freezing and guaranteed without additives or preservatives,” she told the Guardian.
She tends to have a bowl of cereal for breakfast, followed by chicken with rice and vegetables, fajitas or spaghetti Bolognese for lunch, then a bowl of soup with bread for her evening meal.
For Nicola, being disciplined about diet is one of the keys to sporting success. “Sometimes my brain is saying, “Go wild on food”, and I’ll want to pig out, but I’ll tell myself, “No.” You either want to win or you don’t.”
Treats aren’t completely banned, however. “Every now and again I will have an ice cream or a cream cake after a really hard session,” she confessed to the Mirror.
Becky Downie’s Eating Plan – A Balanced and Flexible Diet for Gymnasts
British gymnast, Becky Downie, prefers a professional athlete diet plan with less rigidity.
“I think it’s important as an athlete to feel you’re making your own food decisions, because if restricted too much you might rebel,” she told the Guardian.
However, her diet is still carefully constructed to ensure that she gets the nutrition she needs. Scrambled eggs or an omelette are usually on the breakfast menu, while lunch and dinner include salad, vegetables, lean meat and fish.
“For a while I’ve been doing no-carb or low-carb evenings, because I don’t want carbs sitting on me,” she added. “Extra pounds means extra pounds of impact on joints.”
Sarah Storey’s Cycling Diet – High Protein Snacks on the Move
Elite sports practitioners don’t just need to think about nutrition during training either. Prior to the London 2012 Paralympics, British cyclist, Sarah Storey, told the Guardian about the food she consumes during each race.
“For an event like the end-to-end, where you’re riding 90 to 130 miles a day for nine days, the fuel isn’t just for that day, it’s also to make sure you’re not in deficit the next morning, so I eat protein every three hours and have jam sandwiches passed out from the support vehicle.”
Sarah, who will be competing in her seventh Paralympics in September, won 22 medals in previous Games, so other competitive cyclists are sure to benefit from any advice that she has to offer.
Are you an athlete who sticks to a specific training diet? Do you have any tips to share? Leave a comment below, or let us know on Twitter or Facebook.