Food & Drink

Breakfast of Champions: Eat This, Win Gold

How the Most Prolific Medal-Winning Countries Start Their Day


Happy Summer Olympics. We trust you’ve splurged for a new couch and taken the next few weeks off work.

Now, as the festivities officially kick off with the opening ceremony in Tokyo, we’re reminded of what got these athletes to where they are today.

Namely: hard work, dedication and balanced breakfasts.

And since that last one is the most interesting, we’ve conducted an audit of the most popular breakfast foods in the top medal-winning countries from the last summer games in 2016. So that you can see what the Russians, French and Japanese eat to start their mornings, and then apply such meals to your own daily regimen.

And if, somehow, this exercise doesn’t propel you to the podium, well, at least you’ll get a few more croissants in your system.

The country: USA.
The food: Eggs, bacon, home fries, buttered toast and pancakes.
The reason you’ll eat it: It worked for Michael Phelps.

The country: China.
The food: Zhou, a rice porridge topped with meat, green onions, ginger or eggs.
The reason you’ll eat it: It’s warm, it’s hearty, and 1.4 billion people can’t be wrong.

The country: Great Britain.
The food: A “full breakfast” of eggs, bacon, sausages, mushrooms, tomatoes, baked beans, toast and black or white pudding.
The reason you’ll eat it: It’s either black pudding or drinking the blood of your enemies.

The country: Russia.
The food: Kasha, a porridge made with buckwheat, oat, semolina or any other grain.
The reason you’ll eat it: Keeping your breakfast simple allows you to focus on the more important things. Like your badminton swing.

The country: Germany.
The food: Bread rolls, butter, jam, ham, cheeses, meat spreads, cold cuts, hard- or soft-boiled eggs and coffee.
The reason you’ll eat it: If your body can handle early-morning salami, it can handle pretty much anything.

The country: France.
The food: Tartines with spreads like butter, jam or chocolate paste.
The reason you’ll eat it: The French invented a 3,500-kilometer bike race, they win Olympic medals, and they subsist on bread and butter. Role models for us all.

The country: Japan.
The food: Tamago kake gohan, which is rice with an egg topper.
The reason you’ll eat it: Hey, raw eggs worked for Rocky.

The country: Australia.
The food: They call it the “big brekkie,” which is a plateful of eggs, sausage, roasted tomatoes, mushrooms, baked beans and toast.
The reason you’ll eat it: Once you push past the state of comatose splendor, that’s a lot of complex carbs, protein and vitamins.

The country: Italy.
The food: A caffè latte with bread, rolls or pastries, butter and jam.
The reason you’ll eat it: You didn’t get this far by turning down pastries.

The country: South Korea.
The food: Rice and soup, often with fish or meat and always with banchan (a medley of side dishes).
The reason you’ll eat it: Chopstick dexterity directly translates to sports like pole vaulting and fencing.

A version of this story ran on August 5, 2016.

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