How to eat like an Olympian
Michael Phelps may consume 12,000 calories a day, but he isn’t just guzzling HotPockets. Competition strategy starts at the breakfast table for Olympians and amateurs alike, and eggs and bacon aren’t the only option: with an increasing number of athletes turning to animal-free diets, it’s easier than ever to train sustainably, effectively, and avoid whatever ingredients aren’t on your plan.
- Scrambled eggs on whole wheat toast: eggs provide highly usable protein (you’ll digest it easily, and reap tons of amino acids), while whole wheat boosts carbs for sustained energy. If breakfast meat is your thing, add a lean option like ground turkey to your scramble.
- Oatmeal with raisins or berries: Carbs are essential for glycogen production, so many athletes carb-load in the days preceding competition. Fruits also boost energy and replenish key vitamins.
- Power smoothie (kale, banana, and pear or orange juice): Liquid fuel is a great way for athletes to stay hydrated and boost calories without feeling too full before the big meet.
The Vegan version:
- Tofu scramble on whole wheat toast: Of vegan proteins, soy is one of the more usable, and can be sautéed with turmeric and soy sauce for a tasty egg substitute. Pair it with wheat for a complementary protein, or try a whole wheat bagel with nut butter.
- Oatmeal with soy/almond milk, nutritional yeast, and raisins/berries: A spoonful of nutritional yeast — a flaky supplement often used for a richer “cheesy” effect — can add instant protein to supercharge your morning oats.
- Power smoothie — kale, banana, and pear or orange juice (sound familiar?): On an athlete’s carb-heavy, protein-boosted diet, the overlap between vegan and omnivorous choices can be surprising.
What to Avoid:
- Milk is a bad choice: Both omnivores and vegans should skip dairy in the 24 hours before competition; dairy can upset digestion and interfere with endurance.
- Foods high in fat: Substitute dense foods like butter with sparing healthy fats like olive oil.
- Refined sugars (Tastycake, we’re talkin’ to you): Try high-sugar fruits like berries or raisins for energy; refined sugars tend to sabotage efforts to stay lean.