The diet of Ancient Greek athletes.

In all ancient Greek cities, great attention was paid to the training of the athletes. Their exercises were always supervised by gymnasts, and their diet was strictly regulated by the manager of their school.

According to ancient authors, the athletes initially never ate ordinary, cooked food but ingested only dried figs, fresh cheese and bread made of ancient grains, all of which were considered to strengthen the body and the spirit. 

Consuming of meat by the athletes was introduced much later, but soon became very popular. The choice of meats was made based on the similarity of attributes between the animal and the athlete: Eating goat was thought to make jumpers able to spring like them. Cocks that survived a cockfight were considered ideal food for wrestlers, while beef made discus and javelin throwers strong as an ox.

Warming spices were richly sprinkled on meals and stimulant herbs were mixed into wine which was consumed regularly as an early form of doping.

At the end of the daily exercises, the athletes were obliged to consume a certain, almost unbelievable, quantity of food, followed by a long night’s sleep.

As rules were very strict, sexual abstinence was practiced for a long period, before attending the Olympic, Nemean and Panathenaic Games, to name a few of the most renowned ones.


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