Games on

Friday night we had an Olympics Opening Ceremony party.

Here we are in our fascinators.

And because I love London, I used the party as an excuse to make tea sandwiches.

And cookies.

Because for sure, Olympic athletes are eating tea sandwiches and cookies.

Actually, they might be. Depending on the sport, there’s a wide variety of foods and daily caloric intake among athletes. You may remember during the Beijing Olympics, Michael Phelps famously detailed his 12,000 calorie daily diet. Here’s breakfast:

  • three fried egg sandwiches with cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, fried onions, and mayo
  • one five-egg omelet
  • a bowl of grits
  • three slices of French toast with powdered sugar
  • three chocolate chip pancakes
  • two cups of coffee

While there could definitely be a few more veggies in there, the high level of carbohydrates is essential for an endurance athlete like Phelps, who needs readily available energy. The Atkins diet would NOT work for a swimmer, road cyclist, or marathoner.

I certainly don’t see an ounce of fat on the guy.

But what about the gymnasts? Or the divers? Skeet shooters probably don’t need to eat much differently than the rest of us, although they might restrict caffeine–jitters, you know. Well, I found this interesting chart, compiled by Nanna Meyer, senior sport dietitian for the U.S. Olympic Committee and a professor of sports nutrition at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs. A few highlights:

  • endurance athletes consume between 3,000 and 8,000 calories a day
  • team sport athletes eat 3,000 to 4,500
  • strength and power sport athletes have a wide range of 2,800 to 6,000
  • gymnasts, divers, synchronized swimmers eat 2,000 to 2,500 calories per day
  • weight-class athletes such as fencers, wrestlers, and martial artists eat the least at around 1,200 to 1,500 in order to make weight. After competition they increase calorie intake to recover and prepare for the next competition.

For more on the daily diets of some current Olympians, check out this article on Eating Well Magazine’s website. My favorite quote, from diver Nick McCrory:

Want a gold medal or an ice cream cone?

Or an olympic ring cookie?

The theme that seems to run through all of the athletes is that they primarily eat for energy, but leave room for the occasional treat. Key word being occasional. Seems like advice the rest of us normal folks could follow too.


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