By Michelle Edelbaum , February 24, 2010 (All day)
When I watch Apolo Ohno skate I can’t help but hold my breath and sit on the edge of the couch—it’s so exciting! He nearly always seems to pull out ahead from the back of the pack to win.
So what fuels his incredible speed and skill? Lots of healthy foods. I got the chance to interview the speed skater and 7-time-and-counting Olympic medalist (who loves to cook, by the way) and ask him about what he eats to win for EatingWell .
Here’s what Apolo Ohno told us:
What do you eat for breakfast?
Ohno: Depending on my activity for the day, I will either have oatmeal and eggs or eggs and pan-fried potatoes. And I usually drink water or juice with my breakfast.
What do you eat before and after you race?
Ohno: My favorite food to eat pre-competition is brown rice, pasta with fish or chicken, and a lot of leafy green vegetables. For my recovery meal, my go-to is coconut chicken curry with brown rice or potatoes.
Recipe to try: Quick Thai Chicken & Vegetable Curry .
OK, you’ve just won another Olympic medal—what will you order at your celebration dinner?
Ohno: Well, I would have the biggest cheat meal of my life. It would be a wide array of ethnic foods.
What is your secret-weapon food?
Ohno: I have many secret-weapon foods, some of which I don’t want to reveal (wouldn’t be a secret if I did). But I’ll let you in on a couple, including oats, applesauce, eggs, potatoes, green tea and maqui-berry extract.
What unhealthy food can’t you resist?
Ohno: When I’m fully in my zone I can resist any food. When I choose to indulge a bit, I crave chocolate like Nestle Crunch bars. They are my all-time favorite.
What’s your favorite food?
Ohno: I love all kinds of foods—Mexican , Asian  and Italian —so it really depends on the mood I’m in. For training purposes, it’s lots of lean protein like fish and chicken, carbohydrates like rice and potatoes, and leafy green vegetables.
What is your favorite thing to cook?
Ohno: My favorite meal to cook is coconut chicken with lean chicken thighs or breasts, potatoes, coconut milk, onions, garlic and vegetables. I will have it with either rice or just as a soup. It’s the perfect recovery food. You can make it as spicy or sweet as you like. I like mine caliente!!!
When you travel, what’s the one food you make sure to pack?
Ohno: I travel quite a bit so I always make sure to pack my multivitamins, to keep me healthy.
How many calories do you consume every day?
Ohno: There isn’t a specific set of calories I consume every day, it just depends on my activities. My caloric intake ranges anywhere between 2,500 to 8,000 calories in a day; it really depends on my level of training. If I have a hard day of training I eat more.
How has your approach to eating for sports changed in the years you’ve been competing?
Ohno: I’d say that it has changed dramatically. I focus on increasing my energy and decreasing my body fat. I’m much more stable. My body is more sensitive to food now. I have spent many years fine-tuning what goes in my body. I know what works best for me and my performance.
Photo Credit: NBC / USOC