Monday, July 30, 2012

The Ancient Olympian Who Ate 57,000 Calories a Day

The Ancient Olympian Who Ate 57,000 Calories a Day
The eyes of the world are firmly fixed on London, England, with 2012’s Olympics Games now underway. A whole host of athletes from almost every nation across the globe have trained to within an inch of their lives, with the hope of bringing home the gold from this most prestigious event.

Many of the Olympians have spent hours in the gym from childhood to perfect their sporting techniques and their bodies. With this incessant training comes the need to eat the right foods – most of today’s athletes will be focusing on specialised diets to help them push their bodies to the limit.
Tailoring food intake for sport is by no means a new “fad”. Diet has been an important factor for Olympians since the competition’s earliest records.

Milo the Croton – Ancient Greece’s Heavyweight Champion
Ancient Greece tells the story of Milo the Croton. The wrestler, who lived in the 6th century BC, was crowned winner at six Olympic competitions. Tales of Milo’s strength have been passed down through the generations, and so too have stories about his insatiable appetite. As the fable scribed in The Deipnosophists goes; Milo of Croton once carried a four year old bull around the Olympic stadium, before cutting it up and eating it all in just one day. He is documented to have regularly eaten 20 pounds of meat, another 20 pounds of bread and have drunk three pitchers of wine; around 57,000 calories in all. Judging by the 6,000 calories even today’s most extreme athletes eat, the ancient figure has probably been exaggerated over the decades.

More telling, is the story of alcohol. Back in Ancient Greece wine was drunk with most meals as well as used in cooking, so undoubtedly many of the Olympic competitors would have taken to their sports with more than the natural fire in their bellies. Even Hippocrates is reported to have told those competing to get drunk a couple of times to heal sore muscles. If this was effective, presumably it was because the morning after, athletes suffered more from their hangovers than from their aching arms and legs.

The alcohol content of an Olympian’s diet is something which is not replicated by today’s athletes. In fact, many sportsmen and women choose to avoid alcohol and other vices like cigarettes altogether, in favour of healthier lifestyle choices to give them the edge over their competition.

For people looking to gain the health and strength of the modern day Olympian, today’s advice would be to give up smoking and drink alcohol only in moderation for a healthy lifestyle. There is help and support available through health care providers for those looking to make this positive lifestyle choice. Or alternatively, you may choose to buy Chantix, a medication which helps people stop smoking as this habit is now known to be notoriously detrimental to human health.

Ancient Greece Eats Atkins-Style

One of the diets chosen by ancient Grecian athletes may be more recognisable to today’s supermodels and celebrities than Olympic athletes. Food historians have uncovered Greek and Roman remains, which suggest the first Olympians ate a meat-heavy diet similar to Atkins, to prepare themselves for competition.

This differs greatly to the Olympians of today, who eat a wide array of food depending on the sport and weight class they’re competing in.  Nur Tatar, a female Turkish Taekwondo fighter competing in 2012’s games, reduced her calorie intake to just 1500 a day in order to reach the right weight for the category she’ll fight in. Her daily meals consist of a balance of fruit, vegetables, carbohydrates, protein and water. On the other hand, a male Olympic heavyweight rower might eat up to 6,000 calories every day throughout his training schedule – but note, this is only recommended for athletes in intensive training. Again, this diet includes elements from all the food groups to ensure strength and energy. It includes two breakfasts, plenty of carbohydrates and protein, as well as sports drinks and water.

 History tells us that diet is important for health and sport – but different cultures have different opinions on what sort of meal makes a good athlete. Although, whatever sport you choose, and whatever you’re planning on eating, rest assured that wolfing down an entire bull will most probably give you indigestion.

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