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Dieting with Apolo Ohno

You wouldn't know it to look at him now, but even Apolo Ohno sometimes has to watch his weight.

USA's Apolo Anton Ohno competes during the Vancouver 2010 Olympics. (AP Photo/Ivan Sekretarev)

The American Olympic short-track speed-skater put on some pounds during his stint on "Dancing with the Stars" in 2007, according to this New York Times account. To get in shape for the Olympics, Ohno had to lose nearly 17 pounds, going from almost 159 pounds to 142. Ohno, 27, is 5 feet 8 inches tall.

(Here's People magazine's take on Ohno's weight loss.)

According to trainer John Schaeffer, Ohno shed pounds during training by eating lots of fish such as salmon (which contains healthful fats) and tons of fruit and vegetables. On race day morning and the night before, he "gorged on brown rice pasta prepared with coconut oil and essential fats," the NYT reports. Schaeffer prepared his meals, boosting flavor with spices. (The article doesn't mention whether Ohno used dietary supplements to round things out or boost performance, though Ohno has developed a line of supplements.) Of course, Ohno was burning plenty of calories between meals. He lost about a pound a week over three months.

Ohno and I have very little in common, physique-wise. As I attempt my own weight loss, though, I'm interested to see how a person whose career depends on his body's being at its optimal weight goes about getting there. He lost his weight at about the pace I'd like to lose mine -- maybe a pound a week. But I can't see myself following anything close to the regimen he followed, and I hope I don't need to to meet my own goal.

Ohno chose to eat mostly foods containing healthy fats and unrefined carbohydrates. That doesn't sound all that different from the Atkins Diet approach, which I write about in this week's "Eat, Drink and Be Healthy" column. But as I note in that column, scientific understanding of what makes for great diet advice can shift over time.

In the end, I think there might not be one best diet that suits everyone's needs and personality. We should learn to trust our own instincts and choose an approach we're likely to stick with for the long haul.

And, while we're at it, most of us ought to resign ourselves to the fact that we're not likely to achieve Ohno's 2.8-percent body fat level. I'll be blogging about that soon.

We're tweeting! You can follow the Post's Local Living writers, including Jennifer, at @wposthome/local-living. And keep track of my "Me Minus 10" effort to lose 10 pounds before I turn 50 at

By Jennifer LaRue Huget  |  March 2, 2010; 7:00 AM ET
Categories:  Me Minus 10 , Nutrition and Fitness  
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It sounds like he is eating a diet of of healthy proteins and whole foods - isn't that what everyone is advocating these days? What's wrong with that? Adkins lets (and encourages) you to eat bacon and foods high in sodium and saturated fat.

Posted by: tatem | March 2, 2010 3:31 PM | Report abuse

This sounds like the diet for a healthy, high performance lifestyle.

Not the Atkins program, which is unsustainable in the long run.



Posted by: glasshospital | March 2, 2010 3:39 PM | Report abuse

I don't think the writer has a clue about the Adkin's Diet. Sounds very little like Ohno's approach.

Posted by: branderson1 | March 2, 2010 5:29 PM | Report abuse

The people who wrote this article didn't seem to do their due diligence on this subject. Speaking only within the context of this article, Ohno's diet sounds healthy, natural, nutritious and satiating. He was consuming foods like salmon which have omega fats, are heart healthy, and an excellent source of protein. Vegetables have fiber which is good for colon health, essential vitamins for the body, have a lot of water which is of course necessary, and are also very filling but relatively low in calories. The meals he "gorged" on, to use the bloggers' words, were for the purposes of packing in the energy and prepping to have his glycogen (carb) stores in the body to gear up for performance.

Posted by: stephanielwu | March 2, 2010 6:15 PM | Report abuse

Just to clarify: Ohno's diet was similar to the Atkins approach in that it aimed to have him burn fat rather than carbohydrates for fuel.

Also, "gorged" was not my word; I quoted it from the New York Times account.

Thanks for reading and commenting!

Posted by: Jennifer LaRue Huget | March 2, 2010 7:38 PM | Report abuse

Side note: It's time for outdated and potentially damaging food trends like Adkins to die out. It is such a dietary dinosaur, horrible for the body AND mind(brain needs of all things, glucose!, to function).

Posted by: domino21710 | March 2, 2010 10:26 PM | Report abuse

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