Upwards of 600 athletes competing at the Tokyo Games leaves Brian Knutson with his hands full. He serves as the director of food and nutrition services for the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee, tasked with making sure all the American athletes have access to what they need nutrition-wise at the Olympics.
Nothing will be quite amazing as the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, where news broke that American swimmer Michael Phelps consumed 12,000 calories a day to propel him to 8 gold medals at those games.
Courtesy of Quartz, Phelps’ diet 13 years ago included:
- Three fried egg sandwiches with cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, fried onions, and mayonnaise.
- Two cups of coffee.
- One five-egg omelet.
- One bowl of grain.
- Three slices of French toast
- Three chocolate-chip pancakes.
- One pound of pasta.
- Two ham and cheese sandwiches with mayonnaise on white bread
- Energy drinks
- One pound of pasta
- A whole pizza
- Energy drinks
In 2018, Phelps explained his training regimen diet in 90 seconds:
Phelps consumes so much food it’s ridiculous he looks that lean.
Fueling for Tokyo
In light of the pandemic and postponement of the Tokyo Olympics from 2020 to 2021, the USOPC donated 18,000 pounds of food to the Care and Share Food Bank in Colorado Springs that would’ve otherwise expired within the confines of the U.S. Olympic Training Center.
Because of the COVID-19 protocol at the Olympics, all athletes must eat in the Olympic village. No one may venture outside to sample local cuisine in and around Tokyo.
Knutson told USA Today on Tuesday; his group will supply 250+ meals per day to athletes, coaches, and support staff for the duration of the games.
The Star-Advertiser reports that the main dining hall offers 700 dishes, from pizza and pasta to gluten-free and vegetarian options. Athletes worldwide have access to 50 kinds of condiments and spices to season their meals with.
How Team USA Eats For Gameday
The availability of pasta is a must for BMX racer Alise Willoughby, who told Delish she carb loads the night before and during competition.
All those carbs provide the 30-year-old Olympian with the energy she needs.
American sport-climber Kyra Condie is a vegetarian, and she usually prepares every meal herself to ensure she knows what’s in everything she consumes.
48,000 Meals Per Day
And the Olympic village does have the capability to churn out 48,000 meals per day to feed all athletes, not just Team USA.
More than 70,000 pounds of food has shipped from the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs to Tokyo. Knutson collaborated with a local chef and multiple vendors in Japan to ensure enough food for every athlete.
At the Olympic village, there are two different cafeterias. One serves as the main dining hall, open 24/7. The other serves more casual Japanese fare, finger foods in simple terms.
Behind The Scenes
Shout out to Team USA volleyball athlete Erik Shoji, who posted on TikTok himself eating in the Olympic village:
Shoji consumed a bevy of Japanese cuisine, including Teriyaki beef, grilled pork, somen salad, and okonomiyaki.
According to him, everything tasted “pretty good.”
Knutson said he aims to provide meals that feel familiar to Americans abroad but infuse bits of Japanese culture and ingredients when it makes sense.
At the main dining hall, Shoji shared on TikTok another taste test video:
Sushi, dumplings, and even Japanese curry, Shoji looks like a foodie. And, of course, everything tasted “good.”
It’s important to note all teams have a nutritionist who works hand-in-hand with Knutson to tailor their meals to the needs of each player, especially those with dietary restrictions.
Not everyone has the ability to try and experiment with different foods like the 31-year-old Shoji.