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Fitness & Exercise

10 Tips for an Olympic Body

Experts share the diet and exercise secrets of Olympic athletes.
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3. Eat healthfully.

Brooke Bennett, three-time Olympic gold medalist in the 1996 and 2000 Olympics -- and the current world record holder for the 800-meter freestyle swim -- says that diet should be the first focus for anyone hoping to improve physical well-being.

"Nutrition is key in anybody's life, whether we're professional athletes or working at a desk," says Bennett, now a certified personal trainer and nutritionist and a consultant to USA Swimming. "It's about 80% of our lifestyle." 

The former Olympic athlete believes that content, not calories, should be the focus of any "Olympic body" regimen. Besides the obvious -- fruit, vegetables, lean proteins, and slow carbohydrates like brown rice and sweet potatoes -- Callan also recommends watching the sugar content of the foods you eat.

"People stress about [the calorie content of protein], but they should be stressing about sugar," Bennett says." Sugar has a high-calorie count but it's metabolized quickly. And if you're not burning the sugars while working out, you're going to put on weight."

4. Eat frequently, with a mixture of protein and carbohydrates at every meal.

Your body needs a steady supply of fuel if it's going to function at maximum efficiency. Eating frequently also increases your body's metabolism, which means it will burn more calories.

Olympic athletes eat five to six meals a day, with protein at each, to increase lean muscle mass and maintain maximum efficiency. So plan to eat smaller meals, ideally two and one-half to three hours between each.

"You want to keep your body running so efficiently that everything you're using is converted to energy and your body doesn't store anything," Bennett explains. 

Star shot-putter and two-time Olympic silver medalist Adam Nelson, who is competing in Beijing, follows this advice religiously. In order to maintain his muscled physique, Nelson eats protein every three hours -- a total of 300 grams per day. 

A typical day for him begins at 6:30 a.m. with six to eight eggs, a cup or two of berries, and coffee. At 9:30 a.m., he'll have an apple and protein shake. For lunch, he'll eat a turkey sandwich packed with spinach and green and red peppers, along with a glass of milk.

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