How much does it cost eat like an Olympian for a week?
If there is ever a time where you feel at your least fittest, it’s probably during the Olympics, right? (Nope? Just me then?) When I watch these ‘super-species’ at the Olympics, running, tumbling, hurdling, rowing and partaking in other sporty antics that literally take my breath away, I feel like I’m just not working hard enough to get fit. And, even though I make the effort to workout 3 – 4 times a week, training is their full time job and, well, we saw the results during the amazing summer Olympics in Rio this year.
So, what stands Olympians out from us normal folk then? What do they eat and are we able to replicate their eating habits, even for just one week? Voucherbox published a recent study that revealed the amount of time and money it takes to become an Olympic athlete in four years, and Equestrian sports – the most expensive of all sports – costs a huge £468,000 to train in four years. Voucherbox also decided to work out how much it would cost to eat like an Olympic athlete for a week (the results are very interesting). So, I decided to put it to the test myself. As, I am nowhere near Olympic standard in anything (although, in my dreams I am, sometimes…), I am going to compare my eating habits for one week to the likes of an Olympian and we’ll see how the budget marries up. Ready? Set! *gunshot*
Breakfast is, indeed, the most important meal of the day and, definitely the time when I fuel up on food the most. I like to keep it stodgy and filling, rather than light and liquidy. I am also not a fan of cereal and eating just fruit in the morning as they both bloat my stomach. So, my favourite ever breakfast meal is poached/fried egg on 2 slices of wholemeal toast, topped with spinach, lettuce, avocado, tomato and lots of lemon and sea salt (I try to reduce the amount of salt as much as I can). This mammoth breakfast, which I actually think is rather healthy, will keep me full until lunchtime, which is the time when I normally work out. I wash it down with a nice helping of coffee and lots of water and that’s me done until lunchtime.
- 2 slices of wholemeal toast – (Hovis Wholemeal Medium Bread 800g = £0.85)
- 1 egg (Tesco Medium Free Range Eggs 6 Pack = £0.89)
- Handful of spinach (Redmere Farms Spinach 200g= £1.00)
- Handful of lettuce (Nightingale Farms Round lettuce = £0.35)
- 2 tomatoes (Nightingale Farms Round tomato 500g= £0.69)
- 1 avocado (Tesco Ready to Eat Medium Avocado Each = £0.79)
- Juice from 1 lemon (Tesco Lemons Each = £0.35)
- Pinch of sea salt (Saxa Fine Sea Salt Mini Pot 65g = £0.40)
Total – £5.32
An Olympian’s breakfast
For an athlete, breakfast is king. The vital nutrients are what ensures their bodies are prepared for those arduous training sessions that last for hours. Jade Jones, Taekwondo pro and Team GB competitor at Rio 2016 fills up on fruit in the morning, so she gets her five-a-day out of the way at breakfast time. Smart.
- Rachael’s Organic Greek Style Yoghurt x 3 = £4.50
- Sainsbury’s Fruit Medley x 3 = £3.75
- Trek Peanut Power Wholegood Energy Bars x 2 = £5
Total = £13.25
The breakfast verdict
The cost of my breakfast is more than half the price to that of an Olympian’s breakfast! Although, I am still convinced that my breakfast is quite healthy and I’m not really a fan of pre-packaged fruit or energy bars, I will make an effort to eat more fruit in the morning, as well as some peanut butter on toast. If I am honest, I am not sure how anyone could survive breakfast without bread, but then that’s just me…
Now that the kids are back at school full time, I rarely skip lunch. I have had a great filling protein breakfast, so for lunch, I opt for a carb heavy meal. This is where I fill up on the fruit. If I’m ravenous, I generally opt for apple and peanut butter on Krisprolls and then a fruit medley of banana, kiwi, strawberries and oranges. Sometimes I alternate the apple, peanut butter and Krisprolls with feta cheese, tomato and oatcakes, whichever takes my fancy that day. This fruit bowl normally curbs my sweet tooth and if I miss fruit at lunch, I am normally snacking on something sweet at tea time.
- 1 apple (Tesco Gala or Braeburn Apples Loose = £0.32)
- 2 or 3 teaspoons of peanut butter (Whole Earth No Added Sugar Crunchy Peanut Butter 454g = £2.50)
- 5 wholegrain Krisprolls (Pagen Wholegrain Krisprolls 225g = £1.19)
- 1 banana (Tesco Bananas Loose = £0.12)
- 2 kiwis (Suntrail Farms Kiwi x6 = £0.69)
- 6 or 7 strawberries (Sainsbury’s Strawberries 400g = £2.50)
- 1 orange (Tesco Oranges Each = £0.30)
Total = £7.62
An Olympian’s lunch
Voucherbox’s research shows that each sportsperson has similar daily routines and schedules, where they tend to train for three plus hours after their nutritious breakfast. So, lunchtime is all about rebuilding those muscles and making sure the body is fuelled up to last the rest of the day. Many Olympians recommend on storing up on carbs and protein for lunch because protein helps to repair the muscle damage, and foods like whole meal rice or new potatoes, which are carb-rich, will make sure you have lasting energy throughout the day.
“When we go away to a race now we take a rice cooker with us to cook rice and quinoa. Then we have chicken and things that we can eat at the track that we actually have control of so that we are making sure our body is fuelled efficiently.” Liam Phillips, Team GB 2016 BMX qualifier
- Quinoa from The British Quinoa Company x 2 = £5.50
- Pack of 3 chicken breasts x 2 = £8
- Extra Small Fruit and Veg Box from Abel & Cole = £11
Total = £24.50
The lunch verdict
Even though I think I am eating enough food at lunch, I realise that I may be missing out on some meat protein, which I normally have at dinner. But, the amount of food ingested in an Olympian’s lunch is enormous. I guess, if you’re training for three hours just before your lunch meal, you would want to have six chicken breasts for lunch too. Since I barely train for thirty minutes, I think the amount I eat will suffice for now. I have made a note of adding extra protein to my lunch, but £24.50 to spend is just too much for a mum of three boys (hubby being one of them).
This is where I like to get creative and I always ensure I add veg to the mix at dinner. Again, we stock up on protein and carbs, but I am mindful of the fact that we need less energy to burn at night and I, quite frankly, don’t care for the boys bouncing off the walls after an energy-inducing dinner. So, I either go for their favourite, one-pot spaghetti, with a side of steamed veg, or cheese burgers, again with a side of steamed veg. Twice a week we have salmon or mackerel and I normally keep that very light, opting for some asparagus and red onion on some wholegrain rice or with, either sweet or white potatoes. I will compare the former two as they make more regular appearances in our household.
- 1 packet of spaghetti (Napolina Spaghetti = £0.90)
- Handful of spinach (Sainsbury’s Young Spinach 260g = £1.35)
- Whole heap of tomatoes (Sainsbury’s Cherry Tomatoes 335g = £0.90)
- 1 onion (Sainsbury’s Red Onions x 3 = £0.65)
- 2 Sweet potatoes (Redmere Farms Sweet Potato 1kg = £0.95)
- 4 Carrots (Redmere Farms Carrots 1kg = £0.45)
Total = £5.20
- 6 Burger buns (Pack of 6 Warburtons Seeded Burger Buns = £1.15)
- Minced beef (Tesco Beef Lean Steak Mince 500g 5% fat = £4.00)
- 1 onion (Sainsbury’s Red Onions x 3 = £0.65)
- 1 egg (The Happy Egg. Co Free Range Medium Eggs x 6 = £1.75)
- Dijon Mustard (Maille Dijon Originale Mustard 215g = £1.55)
- Lettuce (Nightingale Farms Round lettuce = £0.35)
- Tomato (Sainsbury’s Cherry Tomatoes 335g = £0.90)
Total = £10.35
An Olympian’s Dinner
After a long, hard day of training, the final meal of the day needs to be protein heavy in order to rebuild the body and slowly release energy. Olympians tend to opt for a lighter dinner than lunch as they won’t be burning quite as many calories as earlier in the day. Olympic gymnast Daniel Purvis says:
“The meals that I will rely on in the run-up to Rio are the ones that I have taken before. Everything is high protein, high carb and energy sufficient.”
The classic meat and vegetables are popular among Olympic athletes and Purvis says he often will have either beef, chicken or gammon with potatoes and veg for dinner.
- 1 x New potatoes = £1.50
- 2 x Gammon Steaks = £6.40
- 2 x Fillet Steak x 1 = £11.73
- Tender stem broccoli x 2 = £4
Total – £36.53
The dinner verdict
As ridiculous as it sounds to spend almost £40 on dinner, the quality of food that the Olympians eat seem to be quite high. There is a lot of protein packed into their dinners and it has made me rethink the inclusion of more meat at dinner times, in order for the boys’ muscles to repair and grow. So, instead of minced meat, I will make an effort to cook more steak. That’s steak and chips sweet potatoes for dinner tonight!
My final total cost = £18.34 – £23.29
An Olympian’s final total cost = £74.28
Voucherbox’s research shows that it’ll cost us normal guys £74.28 to eat like an Olympic athlete every day. It is on the high end, but considering it means that we could potentially become faster, fitter and healthier in the long run, it is definitely worth a shot. I will try the Olympian’s diet on the family for a week to see whether we notice a difference in our health overall. Hubby and I may have to work harder and longer to live up to an Olympian’s diet lifestyle though!
I would love for you to calculate how much it costs you and your family to eat per day and let us know in the comments below. Let’s see how we all compare our eating habits to that of an Olympian’s diet!
Disclaimer – Unless otherwise stated, I am using Tesco prices, as that’s where I generally buy my food and drink. The Olympians’ breakfast, lunch and dinner choices have been taken from Voucherbox’s article on the cost of eating like an Olympian. Prices are correct at 29/09/16 and may vary after this date.
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