Ripped Abs With Superhuman Strength – Cracking the Diet Regime Of Olympians
For the past fortnight much of the global attention was centered around the 30th Edition of the Summer Olympics better known as London 2012. Media coverage at this edition of the games was probably the biggest ever given the continuous evolution of the media space and growth of the internet as a medium which attracts the masses. Four years ago during Beijing 2008, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube were still in their infancy and the smartphone revolution had only just begun. During London 2012 however things were very different, with almost every digital enterprise investing considerable resources to highlight the latest news and performances during the games.
YouTube created an official Olympic channel. Facebook feeds were replete with notifications from friends who were watching the games live. Olympic chatter dominated twitter trends and the smartphone was the tool to take pictures and share the experience online. During the Games, Michael Phelps became the most decorated Olympic athlete of all time. Usain Bolt flashed through the 100m and 200m tentpole races. Great Britain achieved its highest tally of gold medals since 1908. Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Brunei entered female athletes for the first time, and women’s boxing was included as an event. By and large London 2012 has been hailed as a tremendous success and one of the best editions of the games in the past 20 years.
One aspect of London 2012 that grabbed greater media glare than ever before were the athletes themselves. The constant coverage of all the Olympic events on television and detailed analysis of every sporting day online converted the Olympians into celebrities. Many of us couldn’t help falling in love with the men and women with beautifully chiseled bodies, extraordinary talent and in some cases gorgeous looks. Surely, there is no way you cannot have a six pack ab set if you workout as much as some of the swimmers, track and field athletes, wrestlers, boxers etc. However as we all know just working out and practicing their skill is not enough for the athletes to be tough enough to win gold. The diet regime of Olympians in the lead up to the games and during the event itself is as crucial to their success as their training and mental toughness. Research shows that with the right diet and hydration, athletes can train harder and recover more quickly.
The diet regime of Olympians has come a long way since the first edition of the games in 776 BC. Back then there used to be only one sport that was part of the event, the footraces. Ancient texts report that during those times the diet regime of the Olympians comprised only of meat, cheese and fruit as rich sources of protein. Even then the athletes were asked to avoid eating bread the night before the competition although they were encouraged to drink wine before and after a race to help soothe sore muscles (consumption of any kind of alcohol during the events is banned now). Today, the diet regime of Olympians is carefully planned and assessed ensuring that they consume the right foods to enable top performance. When the difference between winning gold and going home empty-handed comes down to hundredths of a second, it’s not surprising that most Olympic athletes work with a sports nutritionist to fine-tune their diet.It is believed that Usain Bolt maintains a strategic balancing diet of 60% protein, 30% carbohydrate and 10% fat. He eats 196g of protein a day which is available in half a kilogram of chicken breasts.
Many of us may not be aware of the fact that the Olympics are the largest catering operation in the world. The infographic below shows the total consumption of food made at the London Olympics games village by August 13th, 2012.
The Olympic dining hall is like a cafeteria like no other (perhaps its only competition would be the Google HQ Cafeteria). With a McDonald’s at one end and machines dispensing other sponsors’ soft drinks and confectionery, the giant eating area provides mountains of fodder from around the world — a full gamut of gluttony from one extreme of the health spectrum to the other. Athletes though have to be careful given that the food is all free and there’s pretty much every kind of cuisine that you could possibly want on offer. To understand more about how Olympic diets vary from person to person we take a look at the diet regime of Olympians from two highly contrasting disciplines: Shot Put and Synchronized Swimming (Source: Delish.com)
Reese Hoffa – Shot Put
The 34 year old American shot-putter from Augusta, Georgia has held a top five spot in the US Outdoor championships for the last 10 years. Hoffa won the world champions’ title in shot put in Osaka, on 25 August 2007, with a throw of 72.3 feet. During the London Olympics he won a bronze medal with a throw of 69.8 feet.
At 315 pounds in weight and 6 feet tall, Hoffa is huge man who is a champion of a sport that requires a lot of strength, concentration and precision. He starts his day with what he considers a light breakfast — three eggs with cheese and toast. That meal, he says, “does not completely fill me up and allows me to get through my morning workouts.” His lunch routine almost always includes peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. At dinner he’s a big meat eater, and if sweets are on the menu Hoffa’s go-to is banana pudding. Now that’s nowhere close to the Phelps diet but its still something that normal mortals should not try and imitate.
Mariya Koroleva – Synchronized Swimming
At the other end of the spectrum is 22 year old Mariya Koroleva who represented the USA in Synchronized Swimming at London 2012. She is a Stanford University graduate who was a member of teams that won silver medals in the duet and team competitions at the 2011 Pan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico.
Maria’s diet is quite similar to that of any Hollywood diva. It is important for her and other synchronized swimmers to maintain a long and lean physique. That means keeping her body energized throughout the day by eating carbs in the morning and afternoon, plus protein-rich foods, which help build and maintain muscle. “I eat approximately every three hours,” says Koroleva.
Food is the fuel that powers the body and the right kind of fuel can go a long way in training the body to achieve superhuman feats. Most of us are too busy to even think about what we drink and eat. The Diet regime of Olympians however has to be carefully planned and followed. Even an extra gram of fat can give the competitor an advantage bringing all the hard work and sweat to nothing.
Did you watch the London Olympics? What sports did you enjoy watching the most and which Olympians caught your fancy? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment.