Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Fitness & Exercise

Font Size

10 Tips for an Olympic Body

Experts share the diet and exercise secrets of Olympic athletes.

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.

For his afternoon snack, Nelson will grab leftovers from the night before. Then, for dinner, he often consumes up to 2 pounds of salmon, along with grilled vegetables and a cup of rice. Just before bed, he downs yet another protein shake.

Of course, unless you are a world-class athlete in training, you should not follow Nelson's diet. But the idea of eating every few hours -- with a mixture of protein and carbs at every meal -- is an important one.

5. Watch the mirror, not the scale.

Bennett says that even if your goal is weight loss, the healthiest of regimens focus on decreasing body fat and increasing lean muscle mass, not a particular number on the scale. 

Healthy Living Tools

Ditch Those Inches

Set goals, tally calorie intake, track workouts and more, all via WebMD’s free Food & Fitness Planner.

Get Started

Today on WebMD

Wet feet on shower floor tile
Slideshow
Flat Abs
Slideshow
 
Build a Better Butt Slideshow
Slideshow
woman using ice pack
Quiz
 

man exercising
Article
7 most effective exercises
Interactive
 
Man looking at watch before workout
Slideshow
Overweight man sitting on park bench
Video
 
6-Week Challenges
Want to know more?
Chill Out and Charge Up Challenge – How to help your tribe de-stress and energize.
Spark Change Challenge - Ready for a healthy change? Get some major motivation.
I have read and agreed to WebMD's Privacy Policy.
Enter cell phone number
- -
Entering your cell phone number and pressing submit indicates you agree to receive text messages from WebMD related to this challenge. WebMD is utilizing a 3rd party vendor, CellTrust, to provide the messages. You can opt out at any time.
Standard text rates apply

pilates instructor
Slideshow
jogger running among flowering plants
Video
 
woman walking
Article
Taylor Lautner
Article