Every Friday of his life, Ryan Lochte has pizza and wings. It doesn’t matter if he’s in China, Houston, or Rio, he will find it and eat it. Domino’s is everywhere. Because this is a family tradition, and you can’t let down your family.
In the lead-up to the Rio Olympics, we spoke with Lochte after a training practice, about the meals he eats the night before big races. And by big races we mean “head-to-head-with-Michael-F*cking-Phelps.” Watch him in the men’s 200m individual medley on August 10.
First of all, this guy takes in 7-8,000 calories a day. “I don’t get sick of it,” he said, referring to the act of eating itself. “When I first started [professionally swimming], I was eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and now I’ve stopped. I was just constantly eating, and I was getting tired of eating. My jaw was getting sore. But I guess I’ve been doing it for so long—I’ve been doing it for 12 years—that it’s eerie now. If I’m not eating, then something is wrong.
The 8K day begins with eggs. Ha! Did we say eggs? We mean five to six eggs…with spinach, tomatoes, and ham…
And hash browns (or some kind of potatoes).
And oatmeal (“I love oatmeal”).
And French vanilla coffee with one sugar and cold milk.
But Lochte doesn’t casually whip this up himself, in an apron over his Speedo, oh no. He has a chef. “Me behind the kitchen is not so good,” he said, “I’ll burn down the place.” So Glenn Lyman, who used to be Lebron James’s personal chef, takes care of that part of things. Lyman keeps the protein high, and to stick to Lochte’s favorite foods, which are everything. Except beans.
“I really don’t like beans.”
About a week before a competition, he carbo-loads. A week of spaghetti, fettuccine Alfredo (“chicken alfredo is my favorite”), any and all carbs, plus chicken, steak, proteins “like that.”
Then, two or three hours before a race, he’ll have another full meal. No energy drinks, just a caffeine pill after that morning coffee, which replaced his soda habit (“because my weakness is soda.”) If he’s hungry in between events, a peanut butter Kind bar is always in his bag.
He’s been really getting into health trends, too. The other day, he had spiralized pasta, or as Lochte put it: “Instead of regular pasta, I had this cucumber pasta.”
Did he like it?!? “I was just like, oooh, when I saw it I was like, ‘Yeah, I’m probably going to vomit from this. This doesn’t look good. Where’s my other pasta?’” It was definitely good, he told me. “I would have it again, but I would want a big old steak next to it or something. I need something else than that.”
To replace his soda addiction, “ I’ve been drinking water with … You know those little drops?” We work out that he means the lemonade flavored MiO drops.
In other lifestyle blogger foods, he’s been having one of the other most popular food trends of the decade for breakfast every morning (well, three or four of them)—but I’ll let you guess which one by the description: “You get a piece of toast and then you put some avocado, mushed up avocado, and you spread it on the bread.” Plus, Lochte likes to add spinach, a sunny-side egg, hot sauce, and tofu sausage. “Anything tofu I’m just, I’m loving it.”
That said, there’s still that Friday cheat day of pizza, wings, and Mountain Dew. “It’s a family tradition and I’ve been doing since I was eight years old, and I’ve only missed it six times in my life.” If you’re wondering: Ranch or blue cheese? “Blue cheese all the way.”
After a huge event, say, the Olympics, it’s more than pizza and wings for Lochte. “I’m going to a steakhouse and I’m getting a big, fat steak,” he said, “I love filets. Anything, really. The bigger the better. It’s going down one tube, so I’m okay with that.” On the side “I’m eating French fries, I love sweet potatoes, cooked vegetables, broccoli.” And replace that Mountain Dew with a big, red Cab.
“The Duckhorn Cab, that is hands-down my favorite. I’ve been to vineyards, I’ve been to all these different wine places. People try to get me to taste other wines. I taste it, but I’m like, “Nope, Duckhorn is still my favorite.”
And in the dessert course of this hypothetical celebration meal? “I don’t really do desserts,” he said, “If I did it would have to be mint chocolate chip ice cream, the green kind, not the white kind.”
But none of these food habits are set in stone, he said. “I just go with the flow, because I always thought if people that have rituals, say, something happens where your phone dies and you can’t call your mom or something, and something gets out of place where it’s not what you’re used to, you’re going to get discouraged. You’re going to start freaking out.
That’s energy that I don’t want to waste, so if I don’t have a routine or a ritual, I just go with the flow, so anything that happens, it’s new to me.”