You may have heard of the extreme eating habits of gold-medalist Michael Phelps eating up to 12,000 calories a day or sprinter Yohan Blake scarfing down 16 ripe bananas every 24 hours. Unfortunately, eating like those Olympians is probably not the best idea unless you work out for 10 hours a day.
For the average Olympic athlete eating a clean diet of organic fruits, vegetables and lean proteins is the key to the gold and we can learn from their good habits.
According to the Olympic Committee Factsheet, there are six key ways Olympic athletes stay healthy from the inside out. Whether you're an athlete or just getting into a healthier life style, these tips will get you on the right track.
While workouts help tone the body, each medal winner also tells WebMD that diet plays an integral role in maintaining muscle stamina, particularly in warm-weather competitions. Surprisingly, however, each of the Olympic athletes has a radically different way of jet-fueling his or her ability.
For beach volleyball player Holly McPeak, a self-confessed "snacker," the secret to her strength, she says, comes from eating at least six times a day and snacking on healthy whole foods whenever possible.
"Right now I have fresh fruit, crackers, Fig Newtons, nuts, a bottle of Aquafina and a protein bar - just to get me through the afternoon," says McPeak, a three-time Olympian. Her postgame recovery meal is always a protein and carbohydrate mix, but she says for real energy she's a protein eater all the way. She says because she doesn't eat enough vegetables, she supplements with wheat-grass smoothies.
"I don't take supplements, but I do believe in the wheat-grass smoothies, which I think is important if you're not going to eat a lot of vegetables," McPeak says.
For Olympian Kerri Walsh, the answer lies in just one food supplement: flaxseed oil.
"It's something that one of our trainers highly recommends. And I've found it helps my metabolism, and it helps in the recovery process. I saw a big difference after I started using it in terms of stamina and in terms of healing quicker from injuries," Walsh says.
The athletes say they avoid heavy eating before a game, but don't hesitate to snack on high-protein bars and fruit during a match.
"I've always got a protein bar in my bag and I will frequently stop and grab a bite when I feel my energy dipping," says McPeak, who adds that doing so helps keep her blood sugar stabilized as well.
This material is intended for informational use only and should not be construed as medical advice or used in place of consulting a licensed medical professional. You should consult with your doctor.
Last updated February 2014
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