Olympic athletes like Naomi Osaka and Anthony Joshua don't count calories - they rely on intuitive eating to fuel their workouts

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Olympic athletes like Naomi Osaka and Anthony Joshua don't count calories - they rely on intuitive eating to fuel their workouts
Anthony Joshua and Naomi Osaka both had to adapt their training during the coronavirus pandemic. Getty/Clive Brunskill
  • Insider interviewed five Olympians for The Gold Plan, and they all said they don't count calories or macros.
  • Naomi Osaka, Anthony Joshua, Laurie Hernandez, Mallory Weggemann, and Karsten Warholm all eat intuitively.
  • They shared their daily diets and approaches to nutrition.

Fueling your body well is a key part of performing at your peak as an athlete, but that doesn't mean you have to track your food intake meticulously, five Olympians recently told Insider.

As part of our mini-series The Gold Plan, Insider asked five elite athletes how they eat and approach nutrition, and they all said they don't count calories or macros.

Laurie Hernandez eats to be strong not skinny

Olympic athletes like Naomi Osaka and Anthony Joshua don't count calories - they rely on intuitive eating to fuel their workouts
Laurie Hernandez is a US gymnast. Hyperice

After struggling with body pressure from former coaches and overcoming binge eating, US gymnast Laurie Hernandez is now focused on fueling her body well to become as strong as possible.

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Hernandez used to count her calories, and she said she was "really obsessive" about food in the days leading up to Rio 2016. But now she listens to her body and aims to make healthy choices accordingly.

"If I want more carbs, then my body is clearly asking for more carbs. If I want more protein, my body is asking for more protein," she said.

Hernandez has a soft spot for breakfast, and her go-to meals are: yogurt with berries and chocolate granola, eggs with arugula, tomatoes, and bacon or sausage, and oatmeal with peanut butter and banana.

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Karsten Warholm overhauled his diet to improve his performance

Olympic athletes like Naomi Osaka and Anthony Joshua don't count calories - they rely on intuitive eating to fuel their workouts
Warholm at the ISTAF 2020 athletics meeting in Berlin 2020. Getty/Maja Hitij

Karsten Warholm said he used to pay little attention to his diet, but a few years ago, the Norwegian hurdler started working with a nutritionist. He said since he started, his performance has improved.

Warholm doesn't track his food but focuses on simple, balanced meals.

"Nutrition is very important for health, but also for building what you want to build through training and recovery," he said.

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"Now I'm really focused on getting the right things."

He told Insider breakfast most days consists of bread, eggs, yogurt, coffee, and milk. He said he may have a sandwich for lunch, and dinner is often meat or fish with vegetables, plus the occasional protein bar mid-training.

Mallory Weggemann has always avoided calorie counting

Olympic athletes like Naomi Osaka and Anthony Joshua don't count calories - they rely on intuitive eating to fuel their workouts
Mallory Weggemann is a 15-time world champion. Friedemann Vogel/Getty Images

Paralympic swimmer Mallory Weggemann said she made the conscious decision never to count calories after seeing a loved one struggle with an eating disorder.

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She said she eats intuitively and listens to her cravings, but makes sure she doesn't get too lean when her training ramps up.

"I'm not necessarily trying to gain weight. I'm not necessarily trying to lose weight. I'm just trying to make sure my body has what it needs to get through, refuel, and aid in recovery," Weggemann said.

Alongside balanced meals, Weggemann loves green juices and smoothies made from avocado, almond butter, yogurt, oats, and spinach.

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Anthony Joshua starts the day with a big breakfast

Olympic athletes like Naomi Osaka and Anthony Joshua don't count calories - they rely on intuitive eating to fuel their workouts
Anthony Joshua trains in a public gym. Bulk

At around 240 lbs, boxer Anthony Joshua needs a lot of food to fuel his training, but he doesn't track how much he's eating.

"I think I know what my body needs, and the reason I don't track is because then that takes away from other time in the day," he said.

Joshua starts the day with a large breakfast of yams, eggs, and dates, followed by "a big bowl of porridge," a protein shake, a glass of orange juice, and a glass of honey, lemon, and ginger.

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His meals focus on whole foods and lots of vegetables and grains, such as vegetarian Thai green curry with wild rice, but his favorite thing to eat is a chocolate brownie and ice cream.

Naomi Osaka loves salads and green juices

Olympic athletes like Naomi Osaka and Anthony Joshua don't count calories - they rely on intuitive eating to fuel their workouts
Naomi Osaka fuels her tennis with lots of vegetables. Getty/Tim Clayton-Corbis

"I do not count macros or calories; I always listen to my body when it comes to refueling," tennis player Naomi Osaka told Insider.

Her diet focuses on whole foods and lots of greens, starting with a big breakfast of avocado on toast with smoked salmon and a green juice before training.

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For lunch and dinner, Osaka usually has rice with vegetables and grilled salmon, or a salad.

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