How to satisfy an Olympic appetite

By
Shauny Talbot
Added
16 August, 2016

Is it true? Can an Olympian really #carbload all day every day? Well, sort of...

When Michael Phelps revealed his Olympic training diet in 2008, the world was shocked. He was reportedly eating 12,000 calories a day – more than triple the recommended intake for the average male! Ian Thorpe attests to this, stating that when he was spending 40 hours a week in the pool he ate four times the amount he eats now as a retired athlete.

For all athletes, even gymnasts who need to remain lightweight, it is important to nourish the body with a high-energy diet. Depending on the event they compete in, the Olympian must be strict with the foods they consume in order to help them outperform their competitors.

For endurance athletes (such as swimmers, cyclists and marathon runners) they can carb-load every day because they will burn as many as 5000 to 6000 calories during each day of training. Those in team sports (soccer, hockey) usually eat upwards of 4500 calories a day, chowing down on snacks like protein bars and shakes during their matches. Gymnasts are the most restrictive and are known to eat around 2000 calories a day. All of these athletes eat lean proteins to heal their sore muscles after big days of working out.

In the spirit of the games, we decided to take a leaf out of Thorpey’s book (quite literally). Ahead are some of our favourite Olympian-friendly dishes to take you from start to finish each day.

BREAKFAST

This is the time to load up on carbohydrates – if you’re watching the games from the sidelines, that is. Breakfast is the meal to incorporate more carbs for a boost of energy right from the get-go that can be worked off during the day. Ian Thorpe likes to use quinoa instead of oats to make porridge as it’s high in nutrients and has the feel of a grain, but in actual fact is a seed. Just add berries for a well-rounded winter brekky.

MORNING SNACK

Forget carbs, it’s time to get in some protein! This silverbeet and sundried tomato frittata is packed full of protein in the form of eggs and silverbeet, and healthy fats found in the olive oil and sundried tomatoes. This dish is delicious and will help to restore your energy.

LUNCH

For lunch, choose something on the lighter side, preferably with veggies to add some nutrients and vitamins to your midday meal. A quick and easy vegetable stir-fry just needs a few pieces of poached or grilled chicken to take it from a side dish to a main!

AFTERNOON SNACK

Amalgamating influences from across Asia, Thorpey brings us the ultimate afternoon snack: chicken larb san choi bao. Mixing Thai and Chinese flavours, you get the best of both worlds with these bite-sized beauties. The chicken mince is a super-lean protein and the lettuce wraps keep the dish carb-free. Win-win.

DINNER

Omega-3 fatty acids are important for alleviating sore muscles and keeping your joints healthy. The best way to increase these in your diet is to eat fish – this barramundi with preserved lemon should do the trick. Topped with pine nuts and served atop a bed of wilted spinach, you’ve got a bucketful of protein to assist in muscle relief!

DESSERT

Sugar-free dessert? Thorpey has got you covered. His visually stunning mango berry soup contains no added sugar, but is rich in the naturally occurring sugars of the fruit. Both mangoes and berries are potent sources of immunity boosting antioxidants.

For more fuel food, check out our Olympian-inspired recipe collection

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