Olympian James Cracknell On Eating For Rowing : Trials & Tribulations

Let me be clear from the outset, this is by no means a full insight to the diet of an Olympic Champion rower, but rather a reflection on Cracknell’s requirements when building a body that can beat the world’s best, and the dilemma of eating the same once retired! In an enlightening interview on '10 things no one tells you when you take up rowing’, Cracknell explains how he always had to ensure that he consumed between 5-6,000 calories a day spread between 5 meals a day in order to fuel his 6 hours of physical work every day. He describes how he no longer saw food as a sensory experience, a thing of pleasure, and instead started to treat it as fuel for his engine. He explains how he used to ‘shovel it in; burn it off; and repeat…similar to the trainers adage ‘eat; train; sleep; repeat’. Apart from losing the pleasure of eating, the main problems he incurred with this eating regime was breaking the habit of eating so much whilst not training so intensely. Consequently Cracknell gained excess body fat simply because he was taking the calories in, but not burning them off…you could say he was ‘shovelling it in’ NOT burning it off; and repeating’.

Changing the habits of a lifetime really are a difficult thing to do, especially for an athlete who made eating LOTS of food a major part of his life!


The Telegraph, (2014). 10 things no one tells you before you take up rowing. Retrieved 18th August, 2014, from http://www.telegraph.co.uk/men/active/10953438/10-things-no-one-tells-you-before-you-take-up-rowing.html

About the Author

Job Role Qualified Dietitian and Sports Nutritionist Qualifications BSc (Hons) Sports Science | BSc (Hons) Dietetics Tom has always participated in sport both recreationally and competitively which led to an unquenchable thirst for information on anything health, nutrition and fitness. After leaving school Tom went on to play for a football academy during which time he studied Sport and Exercise Science. From here he went on to study a BSc (Hons) Sport Science at UEA followed by his second BSc (Hons) degree, this time at the University of Hertfordshire studying Dietetics. Tom has worked in the fitness, educational and clinical nutrition industry starting out at David Lloyd Health and Leisure Clubs. He then went on to work as a Dietitian (RD) in the NHS, during which time he conducted clinics for healthy eating, weight loss and weight gain, as well as specialised consultations on Diabetes, IBS and Coeliac disease to name a few. He has vast amounts of experience at devising diet plans and supplement regimens, as well as working in the community with schools and competitive athletes. As Head Nutritionist and Supplement expert at Discount Supplements Tom is here to provide current and evidence based health and nutrition information to help you reach your health and fitness goals!
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