The Olympics Opening Ceremony is today in London. These are the best athletes in the world who train for hundreds of hours in their respective fields. To be in peak shape though they need more calories than you and me.
Caloric intake varies widely depending on the sport. On average, they need to consume between 8,000 and 10,000 calories a day, compared to just 2,000 to 2,800 calories a day for the average moderately active man, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Source
Wrestlers and gymnasts will eat more modestly to be more limber for their respective sports. A swimmer or marathoner however will be on the higher end of a spectrum for sustained energy. For example, swimmer Peter Vanderkaay says he consumes anywhere from 4,000-6,000 calories a day depending on intensity needed. Sadly he says he consumes very little junk food.
Here is a typical day for Peter:
Peter’s Food Diary (source)
Pre-workout: PowerBar and banana
Workout: 32-ounce PowerBar Restore drink
Post-workout: 8-ounce chocolate milk
Breakfast: 5-egg omelet with 2 ounces salsa; 2 cups yogurt with 1/2 cup blueberries and 1/2 cup granola; 16 ounces water
Lunch: 1 peanut butter and jelly sandwich, 1 apple, 16 ounces water
Workout: 32 ounces PowerBar Restore drink
Post-workout: 8 ounces chocolate milk
Dinner: 2 grilled marinated chicken breasts, 1 cup brown rice, 10 spears of grilled asparagus, 16 ounces water
You can see substantial amounts of good carbs, hydration, protein, and potassium in his diet. It’s a large amount of food but not outlandish for the amount of calories he burns. If I had the chance to consume 6,000 calories I’d probably have 3 or 4 tastycakes, some snickers, a pint of ice cream, some pasta alfredo, and a Wendy’s Spicy Chicken Sandwich. Maybe that’s why he’s an elite athlete and I’m not.
Go Team USA!