How to Eat Like an Athlete

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What about nutrition when it comes to training like an athlete? Do athletes have a special dietary regimen that keeps them looking fit and healthy? Can they consume any food they desire due to the high number of calories they burn?

It is essential for everyone, even those not participating in professional sports, to make sure they are eating well. The food you eat not only provides energy for daily activities or for when you’re competing in sports, but it is also the root of the nutrition that affects your long-term health and wellness. Nutrition has a major influence on an athlete’s performance and everyday training, so it’s essential that fitness enthusiasts pay close attention to what they eat. Eating for performance isn’t so far off from eating for health as one might think. Find out below how you can consume food like an expert sportsperson to accomplish your goals and exceed expectations in your everyday life.

Why is Nutrition Important for Athletes?

Many people exclaim when they hear that I’ve worked with special ops military and professional athletes in matters of nutrition that these individuals are incredibly fit, supposing that they must eat in a very balanced and healthy way.

It is correct to say that no matter how fit an individual is, their diet is not completely flawless. None of us do. We all face the same problems with desires, misguided information in the news, and insufficient verified items from food and sports nutrition providers. The employment of sports nutritionists continues to be necessary, and they are necessary for success in the fitness world. When you make your living by relying on your physical abilities and performance, it is essential to be mindful of the food you put into your body and not simply assume that anything is okay.

The Athlete Diet

There is a wide range of diets that are suitable for athletes, just like there are numerous sports and forms of exercise. Certain sports need one to manage their weight and pay close attention to their body’s shape, others necessitate extraordinary strength and endurance, and some are in the middle of the two extremes. But the basics of nutrition still holds true for all athletes, and a diet for them is no different from what I usually suggest for a regular person. Getting proper nutrition, athlete or not, requires the following:

  • Get your calorie needs on point.
  • Eat the right foods to fuel your needs.

Calories supply the energy and fuel you need. Think of it as putting gas in your tank. Selecting the correct grade of gasoline and the best quality petroleum can assist you in achieving greater distances and velocity. Using the wrong kind might lead to failure. Consistently not providing enough energy while exercising leads to a foreseeable conclusion – the energy reserves are depleted.

In other contexts, calories still operate in the same manner. Consuming the appropriate quantity of calories can help with weight management, benefit health, and provide vigor that you need to perform and make it through the day.

To help stay fit, it is important to have the correct balance of fat, protein, and carbs and eat the correct amount of them at the appropriate times. Eating nutrient-dense foods that are high in vitamins and minerals is key to supporting an active lifestyle and aiding recovery and overall well-being. Pretty much the same as what a balanced diet looks like for the average person.

Macronutrients for Performance

It is essential to have the correct combination of macronutrients to reach success, as each type has a specific purpose in performance. Macros supply the body with energy in the form of calories, and each one is put to use in a different way.


Carbohydrates provide the body with an immediate and accessible energy source, so they’re usually utilized to power physical activity and bodily processes. Carbs are especially beneficial for strength training that requires prolonged stamina and immediate power – having fast reflexes and lifting heavy objects both necessitate the consumption of carbs. When your body is faced with a stressful situation, it also activates its fight or flight response.

When you consume carbohydrates, they serve as a source of immediate energy or as extra fuel stored in your muscles and in your liver as a form of backup energy. When you consume more calories than necessary, the extra carbohydrates are kept in the body in the form of fat.


Fat is your source of long-lasting energy. The body can take in the energy granted by fat and use it straight away; however, when too many calories are eaten, the fat can be kept as bodily fat.

When inactive, the body prefers to utilize fat for energy. Your body receives double the calories from fat, whether it be consumed or expended, providing twice the energy for the same amount of effort. Recall to keep relaxed so your body doesn’t necessitate a swift energy surge. It can take a while to metabolize fat, which is a much slower process compared to digesting carbohydrates. Once the activity level increases, the body changes to burning carbohydrates to keep going.


Protein is not a go-to source of energy and is not kept in the body as a protein reserve. The body splits it into amino acids and these are employed to create, uphold, and fix nearly all of its components. When there is an excess of calories, protein too can be kept as fat in the same way fat and carbs are.

How to Eat Like an Athlete

Once you focus on sustenance as a way to be vigorous, you start learning what your body truly requires. Paying attention to what your body needs, creating a meal plan and logging your food intake, and only eating food that will improve your life and health instead of satisfying your cravings are all part of a good nutrition plan.

Athletes structure their practice routines with the purpose of attaining the highest level of performance they are capable of, building power, better their technique, and increasing their speed. When they eat in the same way that they train, they obtain remarkable outcomes. This is possible for the everyday person as well. No matter how much effort you are expending on your workouts or if you are taking a break from them, if you give thought and purpose to your eating habits, you will achieve better enduring results. Simplify the process and have fun doing it.

Food is Fuel

Food is life. It is delectable since sustenance is essential for survival. Why not make the most of life and pick things to eat that help maintain your energy, feelings, and overall well-being? Once you begin providing your body with the necessary sustenance, you will be stunned at how fantastic you will feel. It also becomes much simpler to lose weight.

Once you have figured out the number of calories you require every day, along with what macros you should aim for, begin monitoring your food intake! This will guarantee that you consume the correct food every day and will also provide you with a sense of responsibility so you can learn about your dietary habits that you weren’t aware of. Studies show that people who monitor their dietary intake are more successful at losing weight than those who do not.

What Do Olympians Eat?

Here is an idea of what some of the best athletes around the globe reportedly eat in order to do well (and feel great!) like champions.

Shaun White: Beef Jerky

The snowboarder informed New York Magazine’s The Strategist in July 2021 that he turns to a vegan meal-substitute shake to help him recover after working out. His go-to brand? Ka’Chava. If I’m in a bind, I’ll just mix it in some liquid. White stated to the publication that typically, he combines oat milk or almond milk with a banana or a bit of avocado, then blends the ingredients together.

Another snack he keeps on hand? Beef jerky. He told The Strategist that the perfect snack to take on a chairlift on the mountain is something that won’t break apart while he’s riding. “And you can only eat so many bars. I also have some in my rucksack when I go skateboarding.

Madison Chock: Flaxseed Oatmeal

The figure skater begins her day with a hearty bowl of flaxseed oatmeal filled with fiber and topped with other healthy ingredients. Chock commented to Self in February 2018 that they enjoy incorporating dried cranberries, new blueberries, and almond slivers into their dishes. Subsequently, following the high-fiber meal, she devours a second breakfast which often follows physical activity – half an avocado placed atop a piece of Ezekiel bread, a cube or two of her favorite variety of cheese, some scrambled egg whites, and a mug of ginger tea with a side of agave.

She will be having a dish for dinner that incorporates one type of protein, such as fish, chicken, or red meat, in addition to a side dish of vegetables, as reported by the publication. She informed Self that if she were not overly famished, she would have a salad made of avocado, beets, feta cheese, and cucumber.

Simone Biles: A Balanced Diet, From Pizza to Salmon

Simone Biles, an outstanding gymnast from America and an advocate for the significance of mental well-being, prefers to keep her life balanced and refrains from monitoring her food and calorie consumption. She expressed to Women’s Health that she eats according to what she believes is conducive to her well-being and avoids eating too much or stuffing herself since she often works out at the gym. Gymnastics athletes are careful about what they consume because it can have adverse effects on their health, so the 24-year-old, who is a fan of both unhealthy and healthy food alike, generally sticks to eating what she knows is tantamount to her well-being. She informed a female-focused magazine that she loves to indulge in pizza and Alfredo pasta as much as she savors salmon dishes and garden-fresh vegetables. She also occasionally drinks alcohol, she told the magazine.

Katie Ledecky: Chocolate Milk

In an interview with PureWow in September of 2019, Ledecky mentioned that carbohydrates stay in her daily diet. The menu includes toasted bread, sandwiches, and a variety of fruits, as well as protein-rich items like chicken and nut butter to help give you an energy boost. As a post-exercise snack, Ledecky enjoys chocolate milk, a combination of protein and carbohydrates, which is ideal for restoring her energy.

Chloe Kim: Comfort Food

Chloe Kim, a talented snowboarder, openly expresses her enthusiasm for food. According to Today, her go-to dining spot is Sugarfish in Los Angeles. Her favorite smoothie includes coconut water, pineapple, agave nectar, pitaya, and strawberry obtained from Nekter in Colorado. She seems to enjoy indulging in things like ice cream, pizza, churros, Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, and Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal when it comes to meals she enjoys. She declared to PopSugar in February 2018 that she does not have an extreme diet, and her favorite breakfast consists of chocolate pancakes, biscuits, and gravy, toast, and cottage cheese. She then mentioned that for lunch, she enjoys pizza from CPK with french fries and prefers either In-N-Out or Chipotle for dinner. She explained to PopSugar that she lives her life by eating whatever she feels like having. The mere idea of giving up the foods I adore would break my heart.

Naomi Osaka: Green Smoothies

Osaka, the famed tennis player that has been the focus of mental health discussions and competed on behalf of Japan in the 2021 Olympics, follows a consistent morning routine that features a green smoothie containing kale, spinach, Bodyarmor Lyte (the coconut flavor) and kiwi, according to a PureWow discussion in April 2021. Prior to games, I indulge in plain pasta combined with olives or chicken. It’s not too complicated,” she added.

Mia Manganello: Fresh Fruit and Juice

The skater nourishes herself with healthy, unprocessed food before competing. In July 2021, she told Delish that oatmeal with orange juice is her breakfast meal before training, avocado toast with an egg is what she has for lunch; and her dinner is teriyaki salmon accompanied by white rice and cooked vegetables. Delish reports that she will snack on fruit prior to her afternoon drill.

Caeleb Dressel: Meatloaf

Caeleb Dressel, an Olympic gold medalist, conveyed to USA Today in March 2020 that although he isn’t positive exactly how many calories he consumes daily, his amount may be approximately equivalent to that of his fellow swimmer, Michael Phelps. I’m similar to a horse by eating throughout the day. Thus, I’m never hungry. He remarked to USA Today that he did not wish to go to practice on an empty stomach. Following his daily exercise routine, he consumes a dish consisting of carbohydrates, protein, fruit, and vegetables. For dinner, he eats until he is full. One of his go-to meals? Meatloaf.

Should You Eat Like an Olympic Athlete? Why or Why Not?

Goodson suggests that both the general public and athletes should abide by the 80/20 rule. It is recommended to generally select nutritious options 80 percent of the time while leaving 20 percent of meals as an indulgence. Professional athletes could be stricter and maintain a 90/10 ratio as they approach competition.

So, should you eat like an Olympian? Yes and no.

If you’re not going through rigorous training every day to prepare for a competition, you likely don’t need to consume the same amount of calories as them. If the average person consumed between 5,000 and 8,000 calories daily, they would likely put on excessive weight, even with regular physical activity. Furthermore, these sportspeople are partnering with sports nutritionists to guarantee their nutritional intake is adequate.

People who exercise regularly but do not compete in the Olympics should make sure to have a balanced diet consisting of different kinds of fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains, and sources of good fats.

The fundamentals of healthy eating – a combination of nutrient-packed foods plus occasional treats of desirable food – are suitable for everyone. Remaining devoted to their aim is what helps people who play sports triumph, as well as the ordinary person achieve their desired outcomes.


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