Food for the olympic athlete: expert opinion and practices in antiquity, Ioannis Stavridis and Antonia-Leda Matalas
National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, School of Physical Education and Sport Science, Athens, Greece
Purpose: This study aimed to identify how the opinions held by ancient physicians on athletes’ diet compare to relevant guidelines for the general population. A secondary aim was to examine the evidence from Greek and Latin classical texts regarding dietary practices for ancient Olympic athletes.
Approach: The dietary approaches deemed suitable for supporting athletes’ nutrition were retrieved from the treatises of the major medical authorities of antiquity and from passages of the ancient Greek and Latin literature.
Findings: Physicians and other experts considered beef as the most suitable when strength performance was required, while goat meat and pork were preferred for the good condition of the muscular system and long-lasting contests in heavy events, respectively.
Value: The systematic examination of the diets adopted by elite competitors may contribute to our understanding on how relevant views have evolved during the history of the Olympic Games.
Keywords: ancient Olympics; elite athletes’ nutrition; dietary approaches; human performance; dietary supplements; Olympic Games