How Eric Shanteau, 2012 Olympic Hopeful, Eats to Win(Printer-Friendly Version) | Eating Well

How Eric Shanteau, 2012 Olympic Hopeful, Eats to Win

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By Michelle Edelbaum, "Olympic Appetites,"July/August 2012

The world’s fastest, fittest athletes are competing in the summer Games, but what fuels their power? We talked to Olympic hopeful swimmer Eric Shanteau, 28, about how he eats to win.

You were diagnosed with testicular cancer right before competing in the 2008 Olympics. You’re now cancer-free—how has cancer changed your philosophy?
Eric Shanteau: Having cancer changed my whole perspective on swimming and life. I think I was a really good swimmer before cancer, but I was a great swimmer after cancer. I realized there are much bigger things in life than competing. When I came back after treatment I just relaxed and had fun. A happy athlete is a better athlete.

What do you typically have for breakfast?
Eric Shanteau: I shred a plain wheat biscuit, put that in a bowl, crush it up, dump some Grape-Nuts on it, and usually the third cereal is some kind of vanilla almond nut cluster kind of thing. Those are the three cereals that go in it, then I put a handful of raisins, a big spoonful of ground flaxmeal, a handful of walnuts, raspberries, kiwis—cut up a kiwi with the skin on it—put a splash of almond milk on there, then put some type of organic yogurt on top of that. It’s a pretty heavy, pretty big bowl…the dietitians I’ve talked to are like, “I can’t believe you can digest that.” But it doesn’t hurt my stomach; it’s so complex with so many elements that it kind of just sits in my stomach like a ball of energy, which is great.

What’s the best nutrition advice you’ve ever received?
Eric Shanteau: In terms of being a swimmer, recovery is so important and getting that fuel in my body 30 minutes after working out helps so much more with the next workout and the next and the next. I think that not only getting food in me, but getting the right food in me after a workout, has really changed my training.

So what are some things that you cook really well now?
Eric Shanteau: I really enjoy some of the pastas that I make, and the different sauces—tomato sauce, or I think I make a really great alfredo sauce. I really enjoy seafood. I love shrimp, crab, lobster, a lot of different kinds of fish. Pretty much anything I can find and learn how to make I will be absolutely open to. I cook a lot of chicken, and I go as organic as I possibly can afford. I really try to go buy free-range or organic chicken. One thing that I got a couple months ago is a little stovetop smoker. I swear that thing is awesome.

Get more information about the 2012 Olympics in London at NBCOlympics.com and TeamUSA.org.

Photo: Courtesy Arena