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Concerns and guidance for athletic performance in antiquity

I. Stavridis1, A. Matalas1

  1. Harokopio University of Athens, Department of Nutrition and Dietetics

Pages: 12-18


Purpose: The paper presents the prevailing views on the diet of elite athletes in antiquity, as derived fromthe classical Greek literature, and mainly from treatises written by doctors and philosophers. Material and Method: The primary material of the study was extracted from the work of Hippocrates, Galen, Dioscorides,Athenaeus, Plato, Oribasius, Pausanias, Epictetus, Diogenes Laertius, Dio Chrysostom, Eusebius, Pollux, of Aelianus, Philostratus, Porphyry, Homer and Pliny the elder. Results: Our sources reveal that, in ancient times, diet was considered to be an essential parameter for an athlete to achieve the best possible performance. Reviewing of the dietary practices of selected Olympians, the different views on the role of nutrition in the athletic preparation and performance, and the variations over time, during antiquity were revealed. Initially, the ideal diet for the athletes was considered a regimen that provided large amounts of fresh cheese, wheat and dried figs. Later on, the recommendations for the athletes, focused mainly on the effect of foods on muscle development, strength and good physique. Thus, most the athletes based their diet on meat. Conclusion: The culture of competition in sports created the need for a «sports diet», which did not only vary according to the athlete’s needs, but also according to the type of sport he specialized in.

Hellenic J Nutr Diet 2018, 5(1):13-18


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