Ever wonder what an Olympian eats in a day? Though you might think hours of training could justify a diet of pizza, pasta and cookies galore, that’s not quite the case for every athlete out there. (But kudos to you, Michael Phelps.) Case in point: Elizabeth Beisel, two-time Olympic medalist and contender for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, who takes the concept of fueling for fitness to a whole new level.
“Diet is huge because I’m basically fueling to train right now and I’m training very, very rigorously,” Beisel says. By that, she means that on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, she’s spending five hours in the pool — plus another hour of dry-land training full of crunches, pull-ups (her most hated exercise) and other bodyweight moves.
In between pool workouts, Beisel fills her Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays with solo runs or classes at her local Orangetheory Fitness. Then, Sunday is a rest day — which for Beisel often means a short run, followed by yoga. “It’s definitely a lot of working out but and that’s what you need to do if you want to be the best, so I’m willing to do that,” Beisel, age 23, says.
While she used to be able to get away with eating whatever she wanted, Beisel says she’s definitely seen changes in her body since attending her first Olympics at age 15. “Back then my metabolism was as fast as a guy’s and I could eat whatever,” she recalls. “But over the past year, my body is totally changing and my metabolism is a lot slower.” As a result, she’s had to clean up her diet. “I’m trying to cut the bad processed sugars — they taste great, but are they really going to help my swimming and help my performance?”
We took a peek inside her daily schedule to find out what this Olympic swimmer eats in a day.
What Olympic Swimmer Elizabeth Beisel Eats
Before hitting up her 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. swim practice, Beisel fuels with a smoothie. “A lot of swimmers don’t like to eat a lot before they get in the water because it doesn’t feel right in your stomach, and I’m one of those people,” she says. “I drink a smoothie about 30 minutes before.” She’ll blend a cup of blueberries, a cup of soy milk and a scoop of protein powder for a quick 200 to 300 calories to hold her over until the end of practice.
Two hours later, Beisel is ready for her post-practice meal. She’ll typically make an omelet and another smoothie packed with greens, including spinach, kale, pineapple and Greek yogurt. After that, she’ll rest until her next practice.
About an hour before her second swim workout of the day, which runs from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m., Beisel will make a sandwich of avocado, chia seeds and smoked salmon on whole-wheat toast. “When my blood sugar drops I get hangry and emotional and I don’t want that happening,” she says.
Hydration is key as she powers through her challenging afternoon workout. After she’s wrapped up her session, she’ll refuel by grabbing a chocolate milk (there’s a stash at the gym where she trains) or protein shake to aid in muscle recovery.
Dinner is served up about an hour-and-a-half after practice ends. “I’ll almost always have huge salad with greens, chickpeas, edamame, strawberry, green apples, avocado, and then I’ll normally cook up some quinoa and a piece of salmon or chicken,” Beisel says. “That will be the last time I’ll eat for the day. I’m not really into the late-night eating because I know it’s not good for you,” she says.
How’s that for some clean eating? Knowing the Summer Games in Rio will probably be her last Olympics, Beisel is leaving nothing on the table (pun intended). “This is probably my last go-around, so I’m going to do everything in my power so that when I’m behind the blocks, I won’t have any regrets whether I win or lose,” Beisel says. “I’ll know I did the best I could and that’s the mindset I have in every practice and that’s what keeps me motivated.”