What's the first thing Team USA Olympian Allyson Felix did to celebrate after winning a gold medal? She indulged in a pint of Ben & Jerry's Oatmeal Cookie Chunk Ice Cream. "I sat on my bed all alone and just pigged out," says Felix.
STACK recently caught up with the first U.S. woman since 1988 to win three gold medals in track & field, and we learned all her favorite ways to "cheat." Felix is a fan of rewarding herself for the intense training she puts herself through (check out Allyson Felix's workout). Like many Olympians, Felix needs lots of calories to fuel her workouts. Fortunately, consuming all that food is not a problem for the world-class sprinter.
"I love food. I can eat quite a bit...I do splurge quite a bit. I'm really into ice cream, and I love Ben & Jerry's Oatmeal Cookie Chunk. That's my favorite, so when I do splurge I always go with that," Felix says.
Her other go-to reward for a job well done on the track is a little more traditional. She says, "After races, I normally have something good [for dinner]. It depends on what the rest of my race schedule looks like. If it's not too crazy, I'll have a steak. I'll have macaroni and cheese if I'm not about to go into another race. Kind of treat myself. If I am racing right away, I'll do pasta with meat sauce."
OK, so now you know that an Olympic gold medalist splurges. But before you rush to the pastry section after every training session, you need to learn more about Felix's eating habits. Although she may occasionally cheat, her daily meal plan is not an endless supply of red meat and bottomless pools of creamy frozen desserts.
"I try and keep everything really balanced," Felix says. "I eat things like grilled chicken and fish with the right amount of vegetables and fruits as well. I also keep a bunch of snacks around—healthy things that I can snack on throughout the day."
What are her favorites? "I'm big into pistachios. I also really like frozen grapes when it's hot outside. I do things like the granola bars and little smoothies. A granola bar fills me up if I'm looking for something to be a little more full."
So what can you learn from Felix's diet? Even if you're not burning the number of calories Felix does on a daily basis, it's OK to grab a treat once in a while as long as you're maintaining a healthy diet. Schedule a cheat day once a week, or just indulge in mini-splurges like Felix. The important thing is to stay disciplined.
As for the gang here at STACK, we're eagerly awaiting our pint of Ben & Jerry's with Allyson's face plastered on it like a Wheaties box. Oatmeal Cookie Chunk: Dessert of Champions.
For more nutrition tips and training pointers from Felix, check back on STACK.com in the coming weeks. Also, be sure to snag a copy of the Fall issue of STACK magazine, where we map out Felix's game-day meal plan