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Mark Ralston, Getty Images
Mark Ralston, Getty Images

How Many Calories Do America's Winter Olympians Consume in a Day?

Mark Ralston, Getty Images
Mark Ralston, Getty Images

When you see an Olympic athlete executing a perfect triple Lutz or clearing a 90-meter jump at this year’s Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, remember that that kind of performance takes a lot of fuel. Olympic participants and chefs recently shared exactly what goes into the diets necessary to compete at the world's highest level with ABC News, showing just how thoughtful Olympians have to be about their meals.

Megan Chacosky, a dietitian and chef who has worked with the U.S. Olympic team for three years, told ABC that the athletes consume roughly 3000 to 4000 calories per day while training. For comparison, the USDA recommends a daily intake of about 2000 calories for most adults. Those extra calories give athletes plenty of energy to burn when training on the slopes, where high altitudes can take an extra toll on their bodies.

Meal plans vary from athlete to athlete, depending on the event they're training for and their personal dietary needs. Michael Phelps reportedly feasted on pasta, pizza, and eggs before competing, while Usain Bolt preferred low-calorie proteins like chicken and fish. And believe it or not, McDonald’s is a consistent favorite among players.

For some athletes preparing for this year's competition, the quality of the food is more important than calorie content. U.S. alpine skier Resi Stiegler, who has to eat every 90 minutes while training, told ABC that she avoids sugar in favor of lean proteins and vegetables. Working a healthy amount of fat into her diet is also essential to maintaining healthy hair and skin in cold weather, she said.

Stiegler's fellow alpine skier Ted Ligety also eats plenty of vegetables and high-protein foods. For breakfast, that means eggs, bread, meat, and a cup of coffee from his sponsor, Folgers. He also likes to down protein shakes as a post-workout snack.

While athletes may be responsible for their own diets when training at home, in Pyeongchang, the Americans have Chacosky and the rest of the team’s chefs and dietitians to guide them. The math of portioning out protein, calories, and carbohydrates is a big part of the job, but Chacosky also realizes that it's important to feed the team meals they’ll enjoy. Burrito bowls, meatball subs, teriyaki stir-fry, and roast chicken are all on the menu in the Olympic village in Pyeongchang. The most popular dish she prepares is a fish taco made with tilapia, rice, feta, guacamole, and corn-and-black-bean salsa.

For the athletes with a weakness for sweets, she uses her background as a pastry chef to bake goodies like banana bread and chocolate chip cookies, and keeps a stash of ice cream in the freezer. Because, let's face it: These world-class athletes deserve a treat.

[h/t ABC News]

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Big Questions
What Are Curlers Yelling About?
WANG ZHAO/AFP/Getty Images
WANG ZHAO/AFP/Getty Images

Curling is a sport that prides itself on civility—in fact, one of its key tenets is known as the “Spirit of Curling,” a term that illustrates the respect that the athletes have for both their own teammates and their opponents. But if you’re one of the millions of people who get absorbed by the sport once every four years, you probably noticed one quirk that is decidedly uncivilized: the yelling.

Watch any curling match and you’ll hear skips—or captains—on both sides barking and shouting as the 42-pound stone rumbles down the ice. This isn’t trash talk; it’s strategy. And, of course, curlers have their own jargon, so while their screams won’t make a whole lot of sense to the uninitiated, they could decide whether or not a team will have a spot on the podium once these Olympics are over.

For instance, when you hear a skip shouting “Whoa!” it means he or she needs their teammates to stop sweeping. Shouting “Hard!” means the others need to start sweeping faster. If that’s still not getting the job done, yelling “Hurry hard!” will likely drive the point home: pick up the intensity and sweep with downward pressure. A "Clean!" yell means put a brush on the ice but apply no pressure. This will clear the ice so the stone can glide more easily.

There's no regulation for the shouts, though—curler Erika Brown says she shouts “Right off!” and “Whoa!” to get her teammates to stop sweeping. And when it's time for the team to start sweeping, you might hear "Yes!" or "Sweep!" or "Get on it!" The actual terminology isn't as important as how the phrase is shouted. Curling is a sport predicated on feel, and it’s often the volume and urgency in the skip’s voice (and what shade of red they’re turning) that’s the most important aspect of the shouting.

If you need any more reason to make curling your favorite winter sport, once all that yelling is over and a winner is declared, it's not uncommon for both teams to go out for a round of drinks afterwards (with the winners picking up the tab, obviously). Find out how you can pick up a brush and learn the ins and outs of curling with our beginner's guide.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

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Curling: A Beginner's Guide to Where and How to Learn to Curl
Ronald Martinez, Getty Images
Ronald Martinez, Getty Images

To the casual spectator, curling raises several questions. What are the players yelling about, for instance, and is all the sweeping really that important? The viewers who are only aware of the sport for two weeks every four years may also wonder if curling is still a thing when the winter Olympics are no longer in session. The answer, of course, is yes, and you don't need to be training for the big event to learn the game.

Curling may not have the mainstream appeal of other winter sports like skiing or ice-skating, but it's still accessible to amateurs if you know where to look. If you're a complete beginner, the best way to jump into the sport is to find your local curling club. Some clubs have spaces of their own dedicated to curling, while others are part of larger rinks that are also used for general ice skating. Team USA and the Shot Rock Curling Supplies company both offer interactive maps on their websites you can use to search curling clubs in your area.

Once you've found your club, the next step is learning the sport. Many curling clubs offer classes for beginners to develop the rudimentary skills required to deliver stones and sweep ice. Programs might consist of one session or a course spanning several weeks. Once you have a handle on the basics, you'll be prepared to get back on the ice and compete.

But unlike other sports, finding the right tools, people, and space necessary to actually play the sport isn't so easy. Fortunately, curling clubs also organize leagues for varying skill levels that provide all of that for you. To play you'll first have to pay a membership fee, but once you've signed up you'll be a part of a team that shares your commitment to the game.

This is the same way many Olympic athletes got involved in the sport, but it's a worthy hobby whether or not you aspire to go for the gold one day. The Oakville Curling Club in Ontario writes on their website: "It is a lifelong sport that can be learned at any age. Whether playing in a fun league or in a competitive ladder the emphasis is always on sportsmanship and fair play. Being a social sport by nature, it is not uncommon for teams to socialize off the ice where lasting friendships are often made."

Check out these cool facts about curling to learn the basics of how the game is played.

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