Ever had those days in the gym when you just feel unstopped? Like you’re jumping over massive crates and surpassing everyone on the treadmill and you think, dang, I should be in the Olympics. Yeah, me neither.
When people see an Olympic athlete, they think brute strength, impeccable flexibility, and unwavering determination. In the spirit of the Olympic season, we thought we’d open up with a side of the athletes you probably have overlooked: their diet. So here’s the dish on our favorite athletes’ eating habits coupled with a recipe you can follow to be just like them.
Gabby Douglas—U.S Gymnast The 20-year-old made her mark last time by becoming the first African-American all-around winner of the London Olympics. And in an interview, she told Cosmopolitan exactly how she trains and intends to leave the same mark this year.
Right after waking up at 7 AM, Douglas discloses that she revs up her metabolism by drinking a glass of water. And for breakfast, she’ll have a hearty bowl of oatmeal with bananas, two great sources of carbohydrates. The carbs will fuel her body with energy to last her not one or two, but FOUR hours of training.
When she’s in the thick of competitions, (like in a few days from now), she relies on Grandma Douglas to prepare her meals. Cuz let’s face it—ain’t nooobody got time to cook when you’re an Olympic athlete.
Gabby’s meals would consist of sautéed vegetables for more carbs and a bit of fat, and of course, protein. Gabby would eat lean proteins like chicken, turkey, and salmon, which will give her an ample boost of protein without all the extra fat.
And if you want to eat just like her, we’ve created a typical recipe fit for the queen herself. Now nothing’s better than Grammy’s cooking, but it’s just as nutritious.
Here’s a Balsamic Chicken with Roasted Vegetables recipe from SkinnyTaste.com that’s as easy as find the seasonings and push it in the oven. Lizzie Armistead—British Cycler While everyone was an antsy high schooler and crashing cars, at 15, Lizzie began proving her potential on a bike. According to Britishcycling.org, Lizzie Armistead was the first British athlete to bring home an Olympic medal (girl power!)
And Lizzie, the top-ranked female cyclist of the world, gives much credit to her diet. Vegetarian.
Armistead tells The Guardian, “I was brought up as a vegetarian from birth and have been a long distance runner for most of my adult life.” Even though she was constantly topping track records in school, people still doubted her ability to go far on a vegetarian diet.
Oh, but she went far, all right. 87 miles far in the last Olympic games.
Her only challenge is with iron. “My biggest challenge is maintaining my iron level as I miss iron from red meat,” she tells Cycling Tips. However, for all female athletes, it’s going to be a struggle to keep the iron count at a healthy range.
So here’s an iron-rich recipe to give you the nutritious boost your body demands without eating corpses (her words, not mine).
Here’s Lisa’s Overnight Acai Berry Oats that’s so convenient because it only uses 5 ingredients!
Kendrick Yahcob Farris—U.S Weightlifter Fellow U.S athlete, Kendrick Farris also has impeccable diet habits: not only is he the only male U.S weightlifter in the Olympics, but he’s also vegan.
But before you let that sink in, I want you to look at him. With his biceps and triceps and QUADS, oh my.
And you thought vegans were frail.
And you thought vegans were protein deficient.
And you thought vegan athletes didn’t exist.
I bet you weren’t even expecting to see “vegan” and “weightlifter” in the same sentence, huh. Well, neither did this three-time-gold-medal champion in the beginning. Kendrick went vegan two years ago, right after the birth of his son.
Well, we thank little Farris for indirectly showing the world that, yes, you can lift weights—207 pounds of weight—with no animals harmed in the process.
And if you want to do just the same, here’s a protein-rich recipe to help you nurture your body and reach your fitness goals.
Gaby’s Black Bean Sweet Potato Chili features protein-dense quinoa and black beans, and the flavors are so rich and juicy, you’ll be asking yourself, who needs meat anyways?
If you were looking for a set list of things all Olympic athletes eat to stay in tip-top shape, stop looking. There’s no universal Olympic diet. Every athlete fuels their body with whatever their body needs, and this should be your biggest takeaway from this.
You don’t have to give up meat to be as fit and strong as an Olympian, and you sure don’t need meat to build muscle either. These athletes’ bodies are taking them to unbeatable strengths and lengths, but you don’t have to be an athlete to reap the same benefits. Treat your body with whole, nutritious foods right now and it’ll treat you right in the future.