"The athletes usually competed nude, not only as the weather was appropriate, but also as the festival was meant to celebrate, in part, the achievements of the human body. Olive oil was used by the competitors, not only as a substitute for soap for washing, bathing, and cleaning, but also as a natural cosmetic, to keep skin smooth, and provide an appealing look for the participants." *
If carb-loading were an Olympic competition, U.S. swimmer Michael Phelps would probably medal there, too. His day starts with three cheese-tomato-onion-fried egg sandwiches, an omelet, three powdered-sugar-covered slices of French toast, a bowl of grits and three chocolate chip pancakes to top it off, according to news reports.
Phelps told reporters earlier this week he was instructed to eat between 8,000 and 10,000 calories every day. Other news reports put the total as high as 12,000 calories.
This sounds extreme, even to some dietitians. But Olympic athletes' nutritional needs do vary widely according to their sports and body sizes, and swimming for long periods of time will naturally burn a lot of calories, experts told CNN.
... Shannon Miller, 31, the most decorated gymnast in U.S. history and winner of seven Olympic medals, told CNN Friday that she didn't have any "off-limits" foods while in training. Her breakfast would be two waffles with butter and syrup, and her working parents would order Chinese food or pizza once a week.
"I knew I needed to eat in order to have energy, but at the time I really didn't think about it too scientifically," she said. "It was very simple: If I was hungry, I ate."
Miller retired after her medal-winning performance at the 1996 Olympics. She attempted a comeback in the 2000 Olympic trials but injured herself. She will perform in the 2008 Tour of Olympic Superstars.
"After I retired, I immediately hit puberty and it was tough. My entire body changed," she said. "I went from working out over 40 hours a week to nothing, and kept eating the same amount of food. It took some time, but I figured out an 'everything in moderation approach' that works for me." Still, Miller said she didn't think too much about her eating habits when she was training. She enjoys eating, and had favorite and least favorite foods.
The diet for an Olympic athlete can vary quite a bit depending on his sport. At one extreme, you have cross country skiers, male and female, who need to eat 4,000 to 5,000 calories per day to thrive. At the other extreme, an Olympic ski jumper needs to be 5' 11" or taller but also super skinny at 135 lbs or less. Required to restrict calories, ski jumpers are prone to eating disorders. But within the extremes, the diets for most Olympic athletes resemble diets that would work for most non-athletes.
ESPN Body Issue 2009.
ESPN Body Issue 2010.
ESPN Body Issue 2011.
Biba Gollic, Table Tennis.
Byambajav Ulambayar, Sumo Wrestler.
Alex Solis, Jockey.
Suzy Hotrod, Roller Derby.
Steven Holcomb, Bobsledder.
Jeanette Lee, Pool Player.
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