This weekend at the 2012 London Olympics, athletes from around the globe will compete for the ultimate prize, a gold medal. Some will be at the games for the first time, while others, like Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte, are returning to win more medals, and maybe even knock a certain rival off the top of the podium.
Preparing for the Olympics requires a rigorous training schedule. Endurance athletes can burn thousands of calories each day, so they need plenty of fuel. Swimmers are notorious for eating a crazy amount of food, a 2008 New York Post article described Olympian Michael Phelps’ famous 12,000 calorie daily diet. Ryan Lochte used to fuel his swimming with regular visits to McDonalds for chicken nuggets, saying at the time that “nutrition is not really my forte.”
But just because athletes can burn off junk food, doesn't necessarily mean they should eat it. More athletes are realizing that fast food just doesn’t make you go any faster. Every 100th of a second counts in swimming, so athletes that want to stand at the top of the podium must scrutinize every aspect of their training to gain a competitive edge, including nutrition.
In 2010 when a knee injury kept him out of the pool, Lochte decided to take nutrition and his swimming a little more seriously (read more). Now more prepared than ever for the 2012 Olympic games, Lochte recently said, “The best thing I did was change my eating – no more fast food.” He has also said, “If you don’t put the right nutrition in your body, you won’t perform at your best.”
The 200 and 400 individual medley races are highly anticipated rematches between Lochte and Phelps, and the playing field appears more level than it was in Bejing. At Olympic trials, Phelps was faster in eight of the 50 meter splits, Lochte took seven, and they tied in one.
Could ditching fast foods be what Lochte needs to edge out Phelps this go-round? Without a doubt, Americans will be glued to their seats (and TV sets) to see who comes out ahead when these two highly decorated swimmers face off.
Sara Vance is a nutritionist with more than 18 years of experience in the health and fitness industry. She offers consultations and programs for kids and adults, including sports nutrition classes for kids sports organizations. For more information, visit www.rebalancelife.com or email email@example.com.