With a bumper year at the Olympics – Team GB’s best haul of medals since the 1908 London games – many of us will be inspired to get out and do more sport in the run up to Tokyo 2020. Whilst the majority will not quite be training at the same level as an Olympian, if you wished to, you would need to eat like one. So here’s how:
Snack like a sprinter
The world’s fastest man, Jamaica’s Usain Bolt, is obviously primarily famous for his record breaking times in the 100m, 200m and relay, but he is also well known for his antics when it comes to partying and diet. In many interviews and his autobiography Faster than Lightning, he professes his love for chicken nuggets of all things, consuming up to 1000 over the course of London 2012! We are yet to see nuggets thrown in amongst the list of ‘superfoods’ such as blueberries and acai juice, but who are we to doubt a man who holds two world records and nine Olympic golds to his name. Nevertheless, whilst it may be appealing to build your own regime around Bolt’s go faster chicken nuggets, fat and salt heavy fast foods are not the healthy balanced diet you should be aiming for. Indeed, from a GQ article, here is what Bolt really eats day to day:
It is a light start to the day for Bolt – his personal chef prepares him an egg sandwich for his breakfast. Having been pulled from his first senior World Championships due to his coach’s fear he was becoming addicted to junk food, it is understandable that Bolt has to show some restraint. Throughout the day he snacks on fruits such as mango and pineapple.
It is also a light lunch for Bolt, with pasta and corned beef being a mainstay for him. If he is under instruction to keep his meat intake low, he will swap the beef for fish.
Dinner is the biggest meal of the day for Usain Bolt, often consisting of Jamaican dumplings and roast chicken. The final instruction from his coach in terms of diet is to keep his vegetable consumption high, so yams and unhappily for Bolt, broccoli, form the majority of the sides.
What Usain misses whilst training:
It is not, in fact, chicken nuggets that Usain craves the most whilst training but a desire for hot wings, “all the time”.
Lunch like a long distance runner
Golden Mo Farah is one of Britain’s and the world’s, all-time greats having completed a “historic double-double” in Rio. This means that he won gold in the 5000m and 10000m, both at London 2012 and at Rio 2016, bringing his Olympic gold tally to four. He is only the second man to ever achieve this feat, the first to do so being the famous Finn Lasse Viren, who completed his double-double at Munich 1972 and Montreal 1976. Whilst we’ve all seen Magic Mo advertising the virtues of Quorn, what does he really eat?
According to this article from the BBC, Mo’s typical diet plan looks as follows:
Mo consistently starts the day with a meal of coffee and cereal. Surprisingly (to me at least), his go to cereal is Frosties for the “much needed sugar rush” to get going. Children around the UK have been getting the same start to the day as one of our all-time great athletes for years now!
A fairly common mantra for both exercise and diet is ‘little and often’. Mo is no different, saying that rather than a big, stodgy plateful all in one sitting, he prefers to eat “several small little plates” throughout the day. Typically, the dishes consist of “pasta, steamed vegetables and grilled chicken”.
As Mo says later in the article, the eating regime for an endurance athlete is “as dull and tasteless as you can expect!”, and he confirms this with his dinner menu being the same as lunch – more chicken, more veg and more pasta. Not the most exciting diet but it clearly gets results!
What Mo misses whilst training:
A burger; simple as that. This was his victory meal after the games.
Supper like a swimmer
When 21 year old Adam Peaty hit the backboard of the pool after 100 metres of breaststroke in a time of 57.13 seconds, it meant many things. Firstly, he had just won Team GB their first gold medal of Rio 2016 and become “Britain’s first male Olympic swimming champion” since Adrian Moorhouse in 1988. Secondly, the time he did it in broke the previous world record, which he had set himself just the night before. Finally, it was the culmination of years of training, a big part of that being his huge diet which involved eating “three times more than the average man”. The sheer quantity would be too much for 99% of the population – 6,000-8,000 calories a day – but Peaty eats good, clean foods such as chicken, fish and scrambled eggs, just in vast quantities.
Throughout the day, it is pretty much the same story when it comes to what Adam Peaty eats – it is high protein, high carb and high calorie. Breakfast is usually eggs and chicken.
As with breakfast, lunch is focussed on taking in as many calories as possible – to keep it interesting, Peaty has become a dab hand with “the Cajun spices”. A little seasoning can go a long way to make eating the same meals, day in, day out, more bearable!
Throughout the week, Peaty rotates various protein sources – in his own words: “for example, steak on Monday, chicken on Tuesday, and fish on Wednesday”. This will be accompanied by piles of veg and rice. “Two fistfuls of vegetables is the rule”.
What Adam misses whilst training:
He hasn’t had a drink in eighteen months. To him, that is a small sacrifice for the level of success he has achieved.
Chow down like a champion cyclist
Laura Trott and Jason Kenny are the definition of a power couple. Engaged since 2014, the couples’ medal total is 11 with Kenny having 7 of those – his 6 Olympic golds put him on level pegging with Sir Chris Hoy as Britain’s best ever cyclists. Trott is not far off with 4 golds of her own. How they fuel themselves during training is rather unexpected. From a Women’s Health article, here is what Laura Trott and subsequently, Jason Kenny, eat day to day:
A basic breakfast with some carbs and fibre – often a bowl of Special K, followed by a crumpet or bagel.
Trott’s diet seems less targeted than some of the other athletes listed – the focus is on it being easy to digest and offering a nice kick of energy. Anything from beans on toast to an omelette will do. A cereal bar is the snack of choice to keep her going until dinner.
As with lunch, the evening meal is whatever Trott and Kenny feel like – be it a tuna bake or a Sunday roast.
What Laura misses whilst training:
Whilst her love for Lindt chocolate bunnies has waned over the years, this has been replaced by a need for Terry’s Chocolate Oranges.
So there you have it – five different athletes, five different meal plans. Which was your favourite? Vote here.