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How much protein does an Olympic athlete actually eat?

Natalie Coughlin
Photo: Natalie Coughlin

Welcome to Wellness Confidential, our quick-fire interview series where we ask hard-hitting (okay, entertaining) wellness questions, lightning round-style. 

Right now, we’re gearing up for the Summer Olympics by quizzing some of the coolest, strongest, and most athletic people we know: Team USA contenders. This week we’re chatting with swimmer and twelve-time (!) Olympic medalist Natalie Coughlin.

My typical day of training

I wake up at 4:15 a.m., make breakfast, and head to the pool by 5 a.m. I do ab and prep work for 45 minutes before I dive in. I head home around 7:45 a.m. for a second breakfast and lunch. At noon, I head back to the pool, lift for 90 minutes, then swim again for over an hour. Finally, I head home, cook dinner, and focus on my recovery.

Best way to fuel up during training season

I eat very healthy, mostly plant-based food and quality proteins. I rely on a lot of green smoothies and fruit smoothies to get the nutrition I need on-the-go. Instead of obsessing, I try and listen to by body and figure out what it needs.

Favorite protein-packed lunch hack

I have eight chickens (that I keep for their eggs) and their names are Tara, Sookie, Lafayette, Kelly, Jessie, Slater, Zach, and Turtle. So I eat a lot of eggs.

I never pack a gym bag without


The best way to relieve my super sore muscles

Physical therapy.

My most memorable sweaty moment

I love feeling strong and how my body looks from lifting weights. That feeling after weight lifting is definitely a memorable, sweaty moment.

The best way to get psyched up for a race

Coffee and some ’90s hip-hop.

One thing only my teammates know about me

That I am a really good cook.

I firmly believe a girl can never have too many

Wrap dresses.

Advice I’d give my teenage self

I’d tell my teenage self to trust in the process, and have faith!

To learn more about all Olympic hopefuls, visit The Rio 2016 Olympic Games begin August 5.

Want more Olympic insider info? Find out how Olympic athlete Julie Johnston relieves her sore muscles. Plus, can you guess how many hours a day Olympic athletes train?