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
"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
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
"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,"
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
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
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.