As we explore what it takes to feed the Olympics, here's an in-depth look at the daily diets of five Olympic medalists and what they need to power through their sports, both in training for competition and during the offseason.
Erik Kynard Jr., 25, is an American Track and Field athlete, who earned his first silver medal at 21 years old during his Olympic debut at the 2012 Olympics in London. Kynard Jr. competes in the high jump and will be representing the United States again this year in Rio de Janeiro. The Toledo native, who became famous for sporting star-spangled tube socks during the high jump competition at the 2012 Olympics, is following a very strict diet to prepare for this year's games.
During the 2012 Olympics in London, Kynard says that mostly ate through medley of fast food options. When he wasn't training, his favorite thing to eat was a Sausage McMuffin in the morning. His favorite place to eat was Nando's because it "actually serves Brazilian style chicken."
Kynard also loves to eat out at restaurants and brunch is his favorite meal.
"My geographic location is a huge determining factor in what my favorite restaurant is because of how frequently I travel," he says. "In the United Kingdom, I love to visit Nando's because their aren't many in the States. In the States, I've enjoyed places like Beppe & Gianni's in Eugene OR, Sons Of Essex in New York for brunch - any Italian place in San Diego's Little Italy pretty much is my favorite."
Kynard stresses on the importance of being healthy and says that planning is key.
"Planning and preparing is extremely important. I find it most difficult to eat healthy when I'm competing and traveling because of the temptation, but if you're at home, meal prepping is a must. If you find it too difficult, start small with breakfast and snacks and work your way into lunch and dinner."
Kynard jokes about how water is his best friend, advising that one should have a "healthy" dose of water before grocery shopping.
|Two hard-boiled eggs, Greek yogurt, turkey bacon oatmeal
|Cashews or bananas and a bottle of water
|Mixed berries, cup of carrots, wheat tortilla with turkey and cheese
|Varies day by day
|Popcorn, cucumbers, PB&J Uncrustable sandwich
Scott's mantra in life is simple: "When you keep your life simple, that's how you become successful."
This has stuck with Scott throughout his entire career and it is also what has established him as one of the most successful wrestlers of our time.
"Staying healthy is a lifestyle, not a diet. You have to change your daily habits. It will be tough first to stick with it, but when you make it a routine, it will get easier."
|Oatmeal, strawberries, almond butter, raisins, and flaxseed
|3 eggs with peppers, onions, mushrooms, spinach, and garlic
|Chicken, asparagus, broccoli
|Green tea, apple
Alicia Sacramone Quinn, 28, is a retired American gymnast who led the USA squad to an overall team Silver finish in the 2008 Beijing summer games. In addition to her Olympic achievements, Quinn is the second most decorated gymnast on the U.S. World Championship circuit with 10 medals — only bested by Rio's breakout star Simone Biles.
"Before 2008 and Beijing, I had a harder time keeping my weight regular and steady while training and competing," says Quinn, who retired from the competition circuit in 2012 after she wasn't named to the U.S. women's team for the London games. "I really wasn't making better choices for myself. I had some struggles with eating disorders that stemmed from that."
Quinn, who ultimately sought out the professional aid and advice of a certified nutritionist after returning from Beijing, says there's an inherent obsession with body image in gymnastics that ultimately weighed her down.
|1 cup of coffee and 32oz protein shake
|Piece of fruit (apples, nectarines, pears)
|Gluten-free NuGo protein bar
|Grilled chicken breast and pesto on bread
|Grilled tenderloin with potatoes and asparagus
|Cereal and almond milk
Natalie Coughlin, 33, is a former Olympic swimmer for the United States. She was known as the first U.S. female athlete to win six medals in one Olympic season. She holds twelve Olympic medals total all earned from 2004 until 2012. She swims backstroke, freestyle and medley, and is also known for earning back-to-back gold in the 100 meter backstroke.
Not many people can say, "Yeah, I've won 12 Olympic medals and I tend to chickens and my own personal garden." That's not the case for Natalie Coughlin.
Her diet consists of a lot of herbs and vegetables as you can imagine. She eats approximately 5,000 calories a day to keep up with her extensive training regime, but buying all those ingredients fresh can get expensive.
"I started actually in college when I realized how expensive herbs were. I started an herb garden on my fire escape and it just kind of expanded," she said, explaining where her green thumb came from.
Not only does she have a garden in the back, but she has a chicken coop that she gets fresh eggs from. These eggs go towards her breakfasts often, as she likes eating rice bowls in the morning. The herbs go towards green smoothies that she's very fond of. "I could spend all day just working in the garden. It's so relaxing," Coughlin said.
|Oatmeal with almonds and dried fruit, coffee"
|Recovery smoothie: dark berries, chia seeds, greek yogurt, almond milk
|2-3 fried eggs over rice with soy sauce, cilantro, half an avocado
|Green smoothie: kale, parsley, celery, pineapple, lime juice
|Giant salad, fish, a bit of grain but not too much
Corey Cogdell, 29, is a veteran of the Olympic shooting event for team USA. She earned a bronze medal in the 75 trap target at the 2008 Olympics. After an 11th-place finish in London in 2012, she's headed to the Rio Olympics looking to once again find her spot on the podium.
Things change in a big way on competition days for Cogdell. Nerves mean she can't always eat breakfast, but tries her best to down a protein shake and oatmeal. It doesn't always work. She resorts to snacking throughout the day instead. This is necessary when competition can take up to four hours, and there isn't always built-in lunch time.
"Really the critical thing is trying to find the balance of keeping yourself fed and keeping nutrition in your body, but not necessarily being too full," says fellow team USA shooter Sarah Scherer, who works as a registered dietician. "Because when you are too full, your blood goes from all the different parts of your body, like your brain, into your digestive tract. So obviously we don't want that. We want our cardiovascular system to be as normal as possible because that helps keep our pulse and our blood pressure as low as possible."
|Coffee and a protein shake
|Sliced apples and peanut butter
|Pre-made bagged salad with grilled chicken
|Pork loin, zucchini, brown rice