NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) - Not every athlete consumes 9,000 calories a day training like decorated Olympian Michael Phelps used to.

But there is a serious dedication to nutrition for most Olympians.

"We think about athletes, high level athletes, their nutrition and fuel plan should correspond or mirror their workout cycle," Ann Toy, Director or Sports Nutrition at Lipscomb University, told News 4 Nashville. "At this point, these athletes have kind of gone through the grind, built up that muscle, gained the weight, or lost the weight."

Toy says Olympians should be eating around the clock.

"I don't think people fully comprehend, maybe moms do because they feed their kids all the time, they need to be fed at all hours," Toy said.

One major thing that can complicate an athlete's meal schedule is an odd start time. Competition could start early in the morning or late at night, really could be all over the place depending on how far the athlete advances.

"That really throws off their fueling schedule. A lot of our athletes can't have tradition breakfast, lunch, and dinner times," Toy said. "Instead, their fueling plan might be three hours before competition. (They) might have snack before an event, and still have to recover afterwards."

Traveling to another country for the first time, under COVID protocols, adds another challenge as well.

"Dieticians behind the scenes are making sure they have options. They have a plan A-B-C and kind of worst case scenario in place," Toy said. "Things they forget about like peanut butter; peanut butter doesn't exist all over the world."

The time difference in Tokyo will also have an effect.

"They really need to rely on a schedule of eating more than their hunger cues," Toy said.

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