They’re questions you might have asked as you enjoy the Olympics from the couch. What do these amazing athletes eat and how many calories can they consume?
Young swimmers at West Hills Racquet Club think they know.
“At breakfast I eat like an Olympic swimmer,” said 15-year-old Roman Battaglia, “Waffles and orange juice. You get a sugar high without the crash.”
Olympic swimmer 78-year-old Dave Radcliff still competes and considers cereal and fruit his breakfast of champions.
“On race days I add some cottage cheese for the protein,” he said.
Protein and carbohydrates are considered keys in athletic performance, according to Registered Dietician Ruth Carey, who has a practice in Tualatin.
“An athlete's diet at the Olympic level is going to be 55 to 60 per cent of their calories coming from carbohydrates.”
Four years ago, Michael Phelps made headlines in Beijing with a diet reported to be 12,000 calories a day, 9,000 more than what’s recommended for a man his age. This year, a team dietician says it’s closer to 8,000.
“Someone the size of Phelps could burn 600 to 800 calories an hour when he’s training,” explained Carey.
The United States, she added, has five registered dieticians working with the athletes in London.
“These athletes are doing a lot of damage to their cells and to recover they need antioxidants.” They are told to “eat color” to get those antioxidants from fruits and vegetables richest in hue.
For a meal about two hours before competition athletes are generally advised to load up on carbohydrates with pasta, potato and bread along with chicken fish and fruit.
To recover when an event ends, Olympians will be told to eat a combination of carbohydrates and protein.
Carey’s suggestions would be a turkey sandwich, some cheese and fruit or low fat white or chocolate milk.
“What we can all learn from the Olympic diet is that a high carbohydrate diet is what’s healthiest as long as it’s good quality carbs like whole grains with lots of fruits and vegetables,” she concluded.
It’s what has kept Dave Radcliff in the pool five decades after the Melbourne Olympics.
“I learned shortly after I stopped competing in college. You can’t always eat as if you’re training. Moderation is the secret,” he said as he wrapped up a work out.