Eat like an athlete - Mo Farah

What does a triple Olympic champion eat to stay on top? Long distance gold medallist Mo Farah divulges his training diet, tips for aspiring runners and a healthy love of burgers...

Mo Farah with gold medal

What was your typical daily diet when training for the Olympics?

Breakfast (7am):
Breakfast was coffee and cereal, normally Frosties, as I really like them -probably a little too much! However they gave me my much needed sugar rush to get me through the early part of each day.

Lunch (12pm):
I'm not really a big eater of large meals - more several small little plates during the day. But if I had a lunch, it tended to be pasta, steamed vegetables and grilled chicken.

Dinner (8pm):
Dinner would be the same again - pasta, steamed vegetables and grilled chicken. I realise it doesn't sound too exciting, but for someone doing my pursuit it was absolutely the right thing to eat. It's an exciting life I lead!

Tex-Mex burger
How did you celebrate your epic victory once the competition was over?

I ate my first burger in a year! It was a delicious Byron burger, I think. It really felt like a prize in itself but I only allowed myself one because it was back to the regular diet very quickly. The season wasn't over, you see, and I couldn't afford to go off the rails with other races coming up.

In general, how do you keep your diet varied, and do you ever get bored with eating for your sport?

Yes, I get incredibly bored, who wouldn't? But it's the price you pay for this sporting life. I need my sugar fix from time to time - some chocolate will usually give me the variation I need, but I'm so used to the whole diet thing now at this stage, it no longer bothers me.

Have you come across any misconceptions/myths surrounding the diet of an endurance athlete?

No, it's pretty much as dull and tasteless as you can expect!

What super food/juice/meal helps you get out of bed and keeps you motivated on those particularly dreary mornings?

Coffee. I seriously wouldn't function without it. I don't think I've had a morning without coffee in years. It's scary, I could possibly be addicted. Naturally I'll have fruit and protein shakes, but similar to the Frosties, for me I need a wake-up call through what I put in my body first thing in the morning.]

Dark chocolate
What's your trusted snack for an energy boost?

Chocolate, usually dark chocolate is good for an energy boost. There are all manner of sports snacks that pretend to do wonderful things, but I mostly like to stick to the basics.

How do you stay hydrated when training?

My trainer concocts this sugary, protein water-based drink that manages to stop the fluid from being completely sweated out. For an athlete, fizzy drinks are a strict no-no, and water obviously is the most natural thing you can have, but it leaves your body too quickly and there are isotonic drinks that are better for you.

What would be your top diet and exercise tips for the amateur athlete?

Maintain a healthy balance between carbs and protein but always be careful on the carb intake, or it will ultimately slow you down. And for exercise, just keep up a good pace of core practices. I'd also recommend that people going for speed gains should, at first, try to go easy on the weights. Muscle build may look good, but it also slows you down.

Aside from your speciality, what is your favourite sport/exercise?

I always wanted to be a footballer, so I love to watch sport. And I guess I like swimming to maintain core strength, but for enjoyment also.

What's your favourite meal?

It has to be a burger, every time. It's just a shame I never have them. If I had to choose one from BBC Good Food it would probably be the Texas burger, by virtue of the fact I spend so much time training over in the States.

Uncover more diet secrets from top athletes in our eat like an athlete series.

Comments, questions and tips

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Cameron Brown's picture
Cameron Brown
12th Mar, 2019
Very dissapointed to see a grave lack of quorn from mohammed!!!! but none the less mohammed is a true legend of the sport and i would absolutely tap very niiiiice!! #letsgosexymo
Travis Clarke's picture
Travis Clarke
17th Jan, 2018
Great stuff ;) ;)
30th Apr, 2017
What does QUORN think about this ?
Travis Clarke's picture
Travis Clarke
17th Jan, 2018
I ask my self that every day m8
20th Apr, 2017
Hi i love what you guys are doing great stuff
7th Jul, 2016
A disappointing lack of Veggie Burgers!
20th Apr, 2017
So i cant eat rice?
goodfoodteam's picture
26th Apr, 2017
Yes you can! This is just a snapshot of what Mo eats and he will have been given dietary advice specific to his own needs. We would always recommend following a balanced diet.
22nd Aug, 2016
Hi I was wondering if I could find out what date this interview was conducted
goodfoodteam's picture
13th Sep, 2016
Hi Mia, we first spoke to Mo when he was preparing for the Olympics in London and this piece was again updated in time for the Olympics in Brazil.
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