Sports nutrition may seem advanced today, but its roots can be traced back to the Olympians in the ancient times.
In fact, evidence suggests that at the first Olympic games in 776 BC, an altar was placed at the end of the only event of the Games: the Stadion, or 200-yard sprint. The victor would light the altar for a sacrifice, and the winner would get the best pieces of the meat, Discovery News reported.
AdvertisementCharles Stocking, assistant professor of classical studies at the University of Western Ontario, said that it showed the status reserved for Olympic victors.
Francine Segan, a food historian and author of 'The Philosopher's Kitchen' said that athletes were kind of the rock stars of the time.
She said that they were the pride of their community, and physicians were very interested in supporting the athletes and what they ate.
While there are bits and pieces of evidence about what an athlete's diet may have consisted of, Stocking said that it's clear there was a major emphasis on nutrition-and debate about it.
In fact, athletes' nutrition was considered so important that doctors and athletic trainers appear to have argued about best practices, he added.
Because meat was usually reserved for sacrifices to the gods, not part of the daily diet, introducing meat into an athlete's diet was especially significant, Stocking said.
Other ancient writing shows that a low-carb, gluten-free diet may have been recommended.
Fragments of other documents suggest that athletes may have consumed diets rich in fish, legumes, chickpeas, olives, some types of cheese and dried fruit-what we would call a Mediterranean diet, she said.
Not everything has a modern-day equivalent. Ancient athletes appear to have believed that olive oil was "good for you inside and out," Segan said.
They also may have relied on wine more than water, since alcohol kills germs that could taint water.