CLOSE

What Do Olympians Eat? 5 Crazy Training Diets

Back in 2008, during the Beijing Olympics, we were regaled with stories about the monstrous 12,000 calorie daily diet that American swimming sensation Michael Phelps consumed while gearing up for the Games. Alas, Phelps revealed last month his diet has never been that gargantuan. "I never ate that much," he said. "It's all a myth. I've never eaten that many calories." Although what the Olympic gold record-holder actually eats might remain a mystery, athletes around the world are trying out different meal plans that they believe will help propel them to competitive stardom this summer in London. Here's a look at five of the strangest (and in some cases, frightening) diets.

1. The insanely high-calorie diet

MOHAMMAD KHURSHEED/CSM/Landov

While nobody actually takes in 12,000 calories a day, some athletes come awfully close. Phelps's swimming teammate Ryan Lochte says he relies mostly on McDonald’s for his meals, translating to between 8,000 and 12,000 calories. Before you freak out, consider that Lochte's diet also "includes salad and fruit." Canada's Dylan Armstrong, a shot putter, requires between 6,500 and 9,000 calories per day. "But it's easy to eat a lot of calories," he told the National Post earlier this month. "I like a lot of salmon. Obviously, beef and chicken. I’m on a high-protein, low-carb diet. I’ll eat five or six times a day."

2. The oddly specific diet

NIKLAS LARSSON/EPA/Landov

For American sprinter Tyson Gay to keep up with sprinting champion Usain Bolt this summer, he'll need to be in the best shape of his life. He's been working with EAS Sports Nutrition to design his perfect training regimen. In addition to taking some legal supplements, Gay subscribes to a tailor-made diet provided by a nutritionist who strictly monitors his intake. "I eat 230 grams of protein daily, 308 grams of carbohydrates, maybe 70 grams of fat," he told AskMen this spring. To achieve that, Gay had to adjust to eating six meals a day, consisting of everything from raisins and yogurt to ground turkey and fish. "It’s going to be a diet plan to really set me up to be the best I can be," he said.

3. The 'fruit only' diet

Fruit stand image via Shutterstock

Is the secret to Olympic success in fruits and vegetables? That's what the new "80/10/10" diet claims. It consists of a diet built around 80 percent fruits and vegetables, ten percent protein and ten percent fat. Michael Arnstein, an American marathon runner hopeful began on the 80/10/10 plan several years ago when he read about it, and has taken it to another level since. He writes on his blog, The Fruitarian, about his decision to turn entirely to fruits and vegetables after trying out some other diets, "Veganism is a logical choice. But Fruitarianism is the healthiest form of veganism. There are countless benefits, both to the person eating a Fruitarian diet, and for the world we live in." He assures that he never cheats, either: "A late-night snack might be grapes, mango, or some other more exotic/seasonal fruit."

4. The starvation diet

CARLOS BARRIA/Reuters/Landov

South Korean gymnast Son Yeon-jae has one of the strictest diets of any competitors, having to stay in tip-top shape over the next few months and perhaps even beyond. "She practices for seven hours a day, eats a sparrow's breakfast and lunch and skips dinner," reported the Chosen Ilbo in May. Son points out that some of her fellow gymnasts are blessed with an easier time maintaining their bodies. "Western gymnasts have longer limbs, so even if we weigh the same, they look slimmer. As such, I have to weigh less to look as good," she said. Son believes that any hope of medaling, and the burden of raising South Korea to the upper echelons of the sport, will require her to reduce every gram of fat she possibly can.

5. The 'eat whatever I want' diet

BOBBY YIP/Reuters/Landov

He's the oldest Olympian this year and like many 71-year-olds won't let anyone tell him what to eat. Japanese equestrian Hiroshi Hoketsu was also the oldest athlete at the 2008 Beijing Games, and he has a knack for his training by now. "I eat whatever I want to eat. I think I was born very lucky. I don’t get fat, even if I eat a lot...I don’t care so much about what I should eat or shouldn’t eat and what I should drink," he told The New York Times last month. Unlike most athletes who require a team of assistants to work with them before and during the Games, It sounds like Hoketsu has his whole schedule and regimen under his control. "I normally wake up around 7:30 in the morning and I do a little walk about 25 minutes for stretching, eat breakfast, then go to the stable and ride two horses in the morning, come back, eat lunch. I do some business work for two or three hours, then go back to the stable and either I get on the horse and take her to the farm nearby and walk or I lead her in hand and walk together." Just your typical septuagenarian.

nextArticle.image_alt|e
iStock
arrow
Live Smarter
How to Tie Your Shoes With One Hand, According to a Paralympian
iStock
iStock

Megan Absten lost her left arm in an ATV accident when she was 14, but the injury hasn't stopped her from doing extraordinary things like competing for the U.S. track and field team in the Paralympics. Nor has it stopped her from completing everyday tasks that most people need two hands for—like tying her shoes. After the shoe-tying methods she learned in physical therapy didn't cut it for her, she had to come up with her own one-handed trick. She shares her process in a new video spotted by Lifehacker.

First things first: Lay your laces on either side of your shoe. Next, use your hand to cross them and tuck one end through to make the beginning of your knot. Pin the end of one lace beneath the bottom of your foot to hold it tight, then pull the second lace up with your hand.

Now, you're ready to make your bunny ears. Create a loop with the free lace and pinch it between your thumb and index finger. Then, use your middle finger to grab the lace that you’ve been holding under your shoe. Circle this string around the loop, then push it through the opening to create your second bunny ear. Tighten the new knot by sticking your index finger and thumb in each loop and spreading them wide.

Watch Absten explain the process for herself in the video below. If you're feeling more advanced, she also demonstrates a second technique for you to try.

Once you've mastered those methods, try out these shoe hacks for happier feet.

[h/t Lifehacker]

nextArticle.image_alt|e
JONATHAN NACKSTRAND, AFP/Getty Images
arrow
olympics
2018 Winter Olympics By the Numbers: Which Country Was the Big Winner in Pyeongchang?
JONATHAN NACKSTRAND, AFP/Getty Images
JONATHAN NACKSTRAND, AFP/Getty Images

The closing ceremony of the 2018 Winter Olympics was held on Sunday, February 25, concluding more than two weeks of history-making figure-skating jumps and listening to curlers yell at each other. But if you're someone who tunes in to the Olympics only to see your country win, you may have been left feeling confused. There was no official winner announced at the end of the event, so how are you supposed to know which nation dominated the Winter Games? Judging solely by medal count, these are the countries that skied, skated, and slid their way to the top in Pyeongchang.

According to Bloomberg, Norway came out of the games as the most decorated country. The Scandinavian nation of 5.3 million took home 11 bronze, 14 silver, and 14 gold medals, bringing the total to 39. That makes Norway the biggest single nation winner at any Winter Olympics, breaking the prior record of 37, which was set by the U.S. at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. Norway was represented by about half the number of athletes competing on Team USA, but it was bolstered by a few advantages—like long winters (making training for cross-country sports easier), universal healthcare, and a culture that encourages young athletes to play sports for the sake of play rather than for the sake of winning.

Germany tied Norway for the most golds with 14, but earned 10 silver and seven bronze medals, landing them in second place with 31. Canada ranked third with 29 medals overall, 11 of which were gold, and the United States came in fourth with a tally of 23 medals, including nine golds. The Netherlands, Sweden, South Korea, Switzerland, France, and Austria round out the top 10.

Teams used to spending a lot of time on the podium may strive for that top slot, but placing in any event is impressive. The majority of teams that competed went home without any medals to show for their efforts. Fortunately, they have until 2022 to prepare for the next Winter Olympics in Beijing.

[h/t Bloomberg]

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios