Eat Like an Olympian

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The Greek wrestler Milo of Croton, who won six Olympic titles in the 6th century BC, ate 9kg of meat and bread a day, then washed it down with 8.5 litres of wine. So even then, athletes were tailoring their diet to help their success.

Few sports nutritionists will propose meat, bread and wine as the three staples to Olympic glory, but there is still a wealth of nutritional advice available to athletes from the English Institute of Sport (EIS). In a bid to bring that nutritional advice to the masses, the EIS have collaborated with the National Lottery to launch The Food Champions website, which contains tips and recipes for several different sports.

Coach spoke to Wendy Martinson OBE , lead performance nutritionist at EIS, about the requirements of different sports, and which recipes suit them. Click the links to see the full recipe on


For distance cycling, one of the key things is going to be refuelling – getting some carbohydrate and protein in as quickly as they can once the ride is done – to replenish the glycogen stores they will have used, particularly on a very long ride, and also to repair the muscle.

Recommended recipe (pictured): Hannah’s Hot Chicken Fajitas

Sprinters’ physiques tend to be well-muscled, and one of the things that builds muscles is bedtime protein. A yoghurt pot before bed is a common strategy for athletes needing to recover from a big day or if they’re looking to build some lean mass.

Recommended recipe: Perri’s Yummy Yoghurt Pot

Middle-Distance Runners

For middle distance, you’re looking at 800m. It’s different to long distance in that they may work on their speed more than their endurance. The key here is to have some carbohydrate around the training sessions when you’re training at high intensity.

Recommended recipe: Osagie’s Tasty Turkey Treat

The pool environment, though chlorinated, still exposes swimmers to bugs and viruses. Plenty of mackerel and beetroot is advised as both provide omega-3s, which help support immune function, as well as containing antioxidants and micronutrients.

Recommended recipe: Ellie’s Mouthwatering Mackerel and Beetroot Salad

The volume of training triathletes complete is very high. They’re well-muscled, but they’ve got to be quick on their feet because of the impact of the running. If after a session it’s not an obvious mealtime, then a good snack is banana loaf and maybe some milk to add some extra protein.

Recommended recipe: Banana Loaf by the Brownlee brothers

Nick Harris-Fry
Senior writer

Nick Harris-Fry is a journalist who has been covering health and fitness since 2015. Nick is an avid runner, covering 70-110km a week, which gives him ample opportunity to test a wide range of running shoes and running gear. He is also the chief tester for fitness trackers and running watches, treadmills and exercise bikes, and workout headphones.