How Basketball Star Elena Delle Donne Eats for the Olympics

updated May 1, 2019
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(Image credit: Allen Kee / ESPN Images)

The Olympics are here — neither Zika, nor heat wave, not presidential impeachment, nor plumbing woes could keep this age-old competition from moving forward. We’re planning marathon Olympic-watching sessions, of course, but all these amazing athletes got us thinking about what it takes to fuel such terrific prowess — in the pool, on the field, in the ring. We asked 10 athletes to share what they eat on a daily basis. Here’s what we found out.

Elena Delle Donne

Age: 26
Hometown: Wilmington, DE
Event: Women’s Basketball
Training Regimen: 3 hours a day, not counting exhibition games

Basketball star Elena Delle Donne is pretty big right now — and the attention has nothing to do with her 6-foot-5-inch frame. The Chicago Sky forward is currently averaging 21.2 points per game this season, making her the reigning WNBA MVP.

She’s also a first-time Olympian and the 2016 U.S. Olympic Women’s Basketball Team is the favorite. We don’t want to jinx them, but the prediction shouldn’t be too much of a stretch as it would be the team’s sixth consecutive gold medal. However, that doesn’t mean Elena doesn’t train — and eat — like a champion.

Elena’s Daily Eating Routine

“Eating healthy is really important to me in managing my Lyme disease,” says Elena, who recently became the first national ambassador for the Lyme Research Alliance. “I try to eat gluten-free as often as possible.”

That usually means eggs for breakfast and a salad for lunch, though she does get a bit more adventurous with dinner. “One of my favorite dishes to make for dinner is a pesto chicken with sautéed onions,” she says. Mashed sweet potatoes and a vegetable often accompany that meal.

Snacking isn’t out of the question — although it’s also on the healthy side: “I love apples and peanut butter,” she says.

Favorite Cheat Food: Anything Chicago-Style

The Delaware native who now calls Chicago home isn’t immune to the city’s culinary temptations. “I love to indulge in Chicago’s deep dish joints and steak houses,” she says.

Rio Must-Eat: Feijoada

“I’ve heard a lot about the feijoada,” a flavorful stew, made with beans, beef, and pork, Elena says. “It sounds like a unique local dish that I would want to try.”

Watch Elena Delle Donne compete in Rio all week long. The 2016 Olympic Basketball Tournament has already begun!