The Breakfast of Champions: What Do World Class Athletes Eat?

How can you be more like the world-class athletes that inspire millions around the world every day? By checking out what they eat for breakfast, of course!

We are not promising that if you start eating these breakfasts that you will suddenly break world records like Caster Sememya or become the greatest footballer alive like Cristiano Ronaldo. But if you want to improve your diet, looking at what world-class athletes eat can be quite informative.

We’ve put together these infographic cards to detail what the breakfast of champions really means…

Tiger Woods

Tiger Woods Breakfast - CDA

Tiger Woods completed a return to golf after a very public fall from grace when he won The Masters earlier in 2019. Whether you like him or not, it was an alluring human story of perseverance and there’s absolutely no denying his massive impact on the sport. He forced a generation to sit up and pay attention to what he was doing in a sport many have no interest in whatsoever.

Golf may not be considered that physical, but you still need to be able to maintain a level of strength and performance over many hours over many days.

Woods opts for an egg-white omelette. High in protein, with an optimal amount of carbs, he’s clearly doing something right.

Caster Semenya

Caster Semenya Breakfast - CDA

When the world’s athletic governing body works against you to level the playing field for your opponents, you know you’re a unique athlete. Should Semenya be punished and hamstringed for her natural gifts? The IAAF ruled that she has to take testosterone-reducing medication to give her opponents a fighting chance, but Semenya isn’t taking their ruling lying down. She has recently told the IAAF that they should focus their attention on the dopers in sport instead. Can you blame her?

Semenya’s breakfast is true to her roots and super simple. A bowl of Bogobe. This is a millet-based porridge that’s popular around southern Africa. Extremely low in calories, fat and protein, it’s mostly just carbs that give her the energy she needs to be the best in the world.

Cristiano Ronaldo

Cristiano Ronaldo Breakfast - CDA

Ronaldo has proven time and time again why he is the all-time greatest football player. The Messi vs Ronaldo debate goes a bit like this: “Messi’s stats though!” “Has he done it in three different leagues though?” With five Ballon D’Ors apiece, it is looking increasingly more impossible to settle the debate.

Really, we have to be thankful that they have played at the same time, constantly pushing each other to always be better and ultimately, they are both very different players with different styles.

How does an elite footballer like Ronaldo fuel up? Taking in 1200kcal to start the day, Ronaldo’s breakfast is high in caffeine, carbs and healthy fats, Ronaldo’s plate consists of meats, cheeses, yoghurt, fruit and a side of avocado toast with some coffee to wash it down.

Hafthor Bjornsson

Hafthor Bjornsson Breakfast - CDA

Better known as ‘The Mountain’ for his role in Game of Thrones, Bjornsson is one of the strongest men walking this planet. Strongmen like Bjornsson may not be athletes in the way that we conventionally think of them, but it takes an incredible amount of dedication, patience and focus to keep yourself on the most brutally strict and loathsome eating and exercise regimens an athlete can have.

Sure, they have big appetites anyway but it’s actually still a struggle for them to eat just so much.

Bjornsson consumes more calories for breakfast than any average man or woman should consume in a day.  140 grams of fat, 160 grams of protein, 200 grams of carbs and 2700 calories. That’s double your daily allowance of fat, triple your allowance of protein (for an average sedentary man) and a little bit under your daily allowance of carbs. At some point, we have to ask if Bjornsson is actually even human.

Muhammad Ali

Muhammad Ali Breakfast - CDA

In 2016, we lost one of the greatest personalities in sports. There will never be another Muhammad Ali and no matter how hard boxers may try to be Ali, they will never come close. As thrilling out of the ring as he was inside, Muhammad Ali changed the game of boxing, faced persecution for his religious beliefs, inspired a generation of black Americans and was even spied on by the NSA and FBI, all whilst being the most viscerally exciting athlete the world had seen.

What did such a man eat for breakfast in his prime? Steak, eggs, toast and orange juice, apparently. Weighing in at 1300 kcal, with 80 grams of fat, 90 grams of protein and 40 grams of carbs, this definitely helped him to stay in the heavyweight category. A breakfast fit for a champion only.

Serena Williams

Serena Williams Breakfast - CDA

A world renowned tennis player, if not one of the most supreme athletes to exist, Serena WIlliams is undoubtedly a name we’ll talk about for many, many years to come. Taking a break from winning Grand Slams to have a baby and then returning to win even more titles, was a moment for women around the world.

Scratch that, Serena was in the early stages of her pregnancy when she won her record-breaking 23rd Grand Slam, in a final against her sister! Talk about a family affair.

Serena’s breakfast consists of oats, fruit and a healthy smoothie. The oats provide sustained energy throughout the day and give her the protein world class athletes need. All the toppings and an accompanying smoothie are vital sources of nutrients, vitamins, minerals and fibre. She’ll also throw in a pastry for good measure, she’s earned it.

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Our Obsession With Meat: A Global Study

Despite a recent increase in vegetarianism and veganism, the demand for red meat seems higher than ever. Many scientists and conservationists continue to campaign against the red meat consumption due to the detrimental effects on the environment production has. Not only is there serious cause for concern from an ecological point of view, but from a health perspective, too – red meat is classified as a Group 2A carcinogen and there’s plenty of evidence to suggest that processed red meat is linked to the development of bowel and stomach cancer.

Using data supplied by Ourworldindata.org, we found that the farming of red meat livestock such as cows and sheep is responsible for releasing approximately 221g of carbon dioxide equivalents into the atmosphere for every gram of protein produced. When compared to the likes of poultry at 31.75g, the differences are quite obvious.It was also found that over a metre2 of land is required for every gram of protein produced from red meat – a real hair-raising stat when the same amount of protein can be obtained from pulses with just 0.01m2 of land.

Meat Consumption is a Global Problem

Over-consumption of red meat is a global problem, with the average amount of meat being eaten each day far outweighing the recommended daily amount for an individual. It may come as no surprise that the wealthier countries are the ones eating the most meat – and as a country gets richer, so does the diet of those that live in it, but how sustainable is this?

Our Obsession With Meat Global Study - CDA

How Red Meat Affects Your Physical Health

Red meat has long been linked to heart disease and other serious health conditions. But perhaps most importantly, it is ranked as a Group 2A carcinogen. Red meat has been linked to various types of cancer including bowel cancer and colorectal cancer.

For what it’s worth, red meat is high in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. A 3.5oz steak will have a quarter of your recommended daily amount of Vitamin B3 and nearly 40% of your daily amount of Vitamin B12.

However, there are some profoundly negative effects on your health from red meat. This is particularly when you include processed red meat e.g bacon, sausages, salami, jerky etc. An unprocessed red meat would be something like a lamb shank or a steak.

Processed red meat is as likely to give you cancer as smoking tobacco. Processed meats are a Group 1 carcinogen, which is the most lethal group. This means there is sufficient evidence to suggest that consumption causes cancer. Processed red meats are also heavily linked to heart disease, diabetes and death.

Unprocessed red meats aren’t as prolifically bad for your health. A review of 20 studies that included over 1.2 million people found that whilst the awful health effects of processed red meats are pretty much clear as day, the same effect wasn’t found in unprocessed red meat.

There are issues with how the studies are conducted however and a pattern doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the cause. But there’s enough evidence out there to suggest that we really need to think about how much of it we are eating.

One thing is for sure, and that’s processed red meats should really be avoided. Bacon is a cherished food, but really we need to start ditching it. Let’s reiterate that eating bacon and other processed meats is as likely to cause cancer than smoking tobacco. But people still smoke, so people will still eat bacon. Just make sure you’re eating it in moderation.

The best thing to do with red meat, that isn’t scrapping it altogether, is to adopt the Mediterranean diet approach to red meat. Which is to have unprocessed red meat as a treat, about twice a month. This is a healthy approach to red meat if you really can’t bear the thought of scrapping it altogether.

The Environmental Impact of Red Meat

A lot of noise has been made recently about our meat consumption and how it relates to the environment. With the existence of man-made climate change beyond any form of reasonable doubt, we need to be frank about how our demand for meat is playing into that.

The scientific consensus on climate change being man made is at 97%. That means, of all the scientists whose job it is to look at the effects of climate change, 97% of those people have reached the conclusion it’s man-made. It’s very hard to find that level of consensus in the scientific community, where there is a strong culture of trying to disprove anything anyone says. It’s only when you can find no possible way to disprove it that you agree. This means we have to assess our own human habits.

The problem with meat consumption is that it takes an awful lot of resources to cultivate, especially red meat, and especially beef. Beef produces seven times more carbon dioxide per gram of protein than poultry, for example. Producing 100g of protein of beef emits 105kg of greenhouse gases. 100g of protein from nuts emits 2.4kg.

If you’re trying to be environmentally minded then you can still enjoy red meat. However, for the biggest impact on the environment, you need to go vegan. Eliminating any animal products from your diet drastically reduces your carbon footprint. However, even just going flexitarian can reduce your carbon footprint by nearly 60%.

‘Flexitarianism’ is the name given to a diet that consists mostly of plant based foods, with meat eaten in moderation. People do this by not eating meat every other day, only eating meat at the weekend etc. It’s a really good way to not only reduce your carbon footprint, but to eat healthier!

Lots of people are seriously turned off by veganism. And to be honest, there are some bad vegans out there that are giving it a bad name but by and large, vegans want to reduce their environmental impact, eat healthier, and they feel great compassion for animals. Compassion for animals and health aside, when you actually contextualise the environmental cost of meat, it becomes very hard to ignore.

Consider this. You plan on having a single beef burger for your lunch. Did you know that the amount of greenhouse gas that has been emitted to put that single beef burger on your plate is as much as if you were to drive a petrol car for 200 miles? Nearly 1,700 litres of water has been used to bring that single burger to your plate. That’s more than a month’s worth of daily showers. That’s as much water as you use flushing the toilet for SIX months.

This is why beef should only be eaten as a rare treat, if at all.

If the health effects of eating red meat aren’t enough to get you to reassess how much you’re eating, then at least consider the environmental cost of it. Can we really afford to keep our meat consumption this high? Will there be a world left for our future generations if we do?

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How Much Meat is in Sausages?

In the UK, we all love a sausage, there can be no doubt.

But have you ever wondered what exactly is in that sausage? How much meat is there?

Traditionally, sausages were made from the less desirable cuts of meat as a means of reducing food waste. Over time however, using better quality meat in sausages is something that the general populous have come to expect.

But when it comes to buying a sausage, the quality really does vary. It’s estimated 86% of households buy sausages every month, so it’s only to be expected that there’ll be variations across different brands and price points.

So, are you really getting the banger for your buck that you’d expect?

We’ve put together this really useful infographic to answer that particular question.

Meat Content of Sausages - CDA
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The Hipster-Healthy Foods That are Killing the Planet

The food we consume is often dictated by trends (anyone with any sort of recollection of the 1970’s, will likely have fond memories of prawn salad’s followed by a nice portion of trifle). But these days, consumerism has become a global problem and rarely are the foods we eat en masse homegrown, so it stands to reason that the impact of increased demand for certain foods is felt across the world.

As food trends go, healthy food is currently having a pretty good run. Nutritious foods such as avocados, quinoa and almond milk have seen huge increases in production over the last few years, but as the demand for these newly popular foods soars, what impact are they really having on the environment?

Avocados

Avocados are nutrient-rich and bursting with vitamins and research also suggests that the natural fats in avocados can help protect against heart disease and lower blood pressure. These health benefits and the advent of social media has meant that the avocado has become one of the biggest players in the superfood market the world over. The USA imported almost 2 million tonnes of avocado in 2017… that’s six times as many as in 2001! As a planet, we now produce and consume twice as many avocados as we did back then, with 40% of the worlds avocados coming from Mexico.

Avocados are known to be water hungry, using 370 litres of water just to produce 500g of avocado… that’s nearly 8 times the amount of water required to grow the same amount of tomatoes! This is having detrimental effects on the drought-stricken areas such as Mexico and California where the majority are grown. Water isn’t the only problem for those in Mexico either, much of the farm land is now controlled by drug cartels due to the increased demand, forcing farmers to hand over a percentage of their earnings and murdering those that refuse.

Quinoa

Known as Peruvian Gold, quinoa has become a firm favourite on many restaurant menu’s in recent years. Gluten-free and high in fibre, it certainly has its place in a healthy balanced diet. Together, Peru and Bolivia produce approximately 95% of the world’s quinoa and traditionally, it would be a large part of their staple diet. However, due to the increase in demand and the rising prices (tripling since 2006), they’re now forfeiting this healthy, nutritious food in favour of cheaper, processed products.

The increasing prices and demand has also meant that smaller, local farmers who’s families have been growing quinoa for centuries, have been pushed out of the market to make way for mass producing corporate companies. But just how much of an increase are we talking? In 2001, 46 tonnes of quinoa was produced globally, today this figure has risen to 149 tonnes… that’s three times the amount in less than 20 years!

Soya Beans

Soya has played a huge part in vegetarian and vegan foods for a while. Due to being high in protein and a good source of fibre, it continues to be a favourite and is used to produce meat and dairy alternatives. That said, it’s not actually veggie cuisine that’s causing the problem, it’s our lust for cheaper meat that is fueling the real growth. 347 million tonnes of soya was produced in 2017, 90% of which went into animal feed production.

Unfortunately due to this increase, it means the South American rainforests are suffering huge losses to meet demand;  The USDA estimates that total amount of Brazilian rainforest that will be devoted to cultivating soya beans is likely to reach 30 million hectares by 2020. That’s an area the same size as the Philippines. Let that sink in for just a moment. It’s not just South America that’s suffering either. Globally, 300 million hectares of tropical rainforest has been lost to soy plantations over the last two decades, these vast monocultures are usually heavily sprayed with pesticide, kill biodiversity and contribute heavily to soil erosion.

Other Foods

Though avocados, quinoa and soya bean production are the biggest culprits for destruction and devastation of the planets resources and those that rely on them, there are also a number of other foods that heavily contribute to this including: bananas, coconuts, dark chocolate, peanut butter and almonds.

Bananas – as well as the huge amount of pesticides used to produce bananas, ethylene gas is also used to artificially ripen them as they’re shipped around the world. This and the considerable distances they travel all adds to a rather sizable carbon footprint.

Coconuts – Mainly farmed in Indonesia, the Philippines and India have also begun to clear mangrove forests to pick up on the demand for coconut-based products. This however has had a knock-on effect, causing issues with coastal erosion which in turn can have devastating results during typhoons and tsunamis. 

Dark Chocolate – The cocoa industry has widely been criticised for being one the biggest employers of children, with an estimated 2 million working for less than $1 a day. It’s also been blamed for the huge deforestation in Africa with 80% of Ghana’s rainforest cleared since 1960, add to this the massive carbon footprint; estimate to be the equivalent of driving a car 4.9 miles per 200g bar.

Peanut Butter – Though it’s not the peanuts that are at fault here, the increased popularity means that more palm oil is being used than ever before. A primary ingredient in many peanut butters, cosmetic and other food products, palm oil is derived from the African Oil Palm Tree. This is lucrative business and it’s estimated that 300 football fields of rainforest are cleared every hour to make way for new palm trees, threatening local species such as orangutans who, at this rate, could be extinct within 5 years.

Almonds – It’s a worrying fact that almonds are second only to beef cattle when it comes to water consumption… In fact, almonds require more water to grow than sheep, goats, pigs and chickens! They’re also primarily grown in southern California which is known for it’s dry climate, almond crops have quadrupled over the last 30 years which isn’t great news for the drought hit state.

The Illustrated Evolution of the Burger

From the go to menu item for the picky eater in a posh restaurant to the fast food must have when you need to grab and go, the burger has solidified itself as one of the world’s favourite foods. While the types of burgers available today are expansive, we’ve decided to take a look at the evolution of the burger to see how this beef sandwich enriched our hearts…

illustrated history of the burger

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History of the Burger

  1. Roman Burger – Late 4th-5th Century AD

It all started with the Roman burger. There is a debate as to the burger origins, some people think it was derived in Hamburg, Germany, and that’s how it got its name, however there’s evidence to suggest the patties as we know and love them were actually formed a bit earlier in history. Between the late fourth and fifth centuries AD, there is a recipe featured in the famous Roman cookbook, Apicus. The recipe is for a dish called ‘Isicia Omentata’ which describes a patty made from minced meat (actually minced pork but that’s what was popular at the time), wine, pepper, pine nuts and a rich fish sauce called Garum. While our faces grimace at the recipe, and we become thankful for living in the 21st century when we have McDonald’s and Five Guys aplenty, we can’t deny that the description and images of the recipe appear to be like the burger we’re now familiar with.

  1. The Medieval Rysshew (Rissole) – Around the 1300s

Minced meat was a luxury reserved for the middle classes during the medieval era but patties made from fruit and herbs fried in oil were a popular dish across Europe. While the recipe isn’t what we know the burger as today, the fried patty idea is very much resemblant of a burger. As farming improved and meat became more commonplace, the basis for burgers was already in place.

  1. The Hamburg Steak – Early 1800s

The Age of Discovery meant that minced beef had become increasingly popular throughout Europe in the previous centuries. Hamburg, in Germany, had become particularly renowned for its cattle, and the high-quality beef sourced from their cows was used to create a delicacy called Hamburg Steak. Hamburg Steak involved meat being minced, seasoned and formed into patties, as we’ve previously heard but it was the meat quality that set this aside as a key turning point. Germany during the Age of Discovery also had the largest shipping ports so would often be frequented by sailors. Hot on their lips was this superior burger patty and when they travelled they spread word about this menu option. It was German immigrants however when they moved to America in the 19th century that started replicating this meal, they set up restaurants in places like New York and Chicago serving the ‘Hamburg Steak’. To cater for the American palate recipes slightly changed and garlic, onions and breadcrumbs were added to the patty. Demand became increasingly high for this meal and this is where the global phenomenon starts, and we see the burger being adapted.

  1. The First True Burger? – 1880

Now that the Hamburg steak was doing the rounds in restaurants all over America, in 1880 a Texan cook Fletcher Davis AKA “Old Dave” placed the meat between two slices of toast. Originally when the Hamburg steak hit American restaurants it was served raw or lightly cooked, as a breakfast option, accompanied by a raw egg.

At the 1904 St Louis World’s Fair however Old Dave is said to have tried something new, he grilled the meat brown and served it between two thick slices of toast with raw onion on top. It proved to be a hit and he opened up a burger stand as a result. He would serve this alongside French fries, which he is also said to have invented.

There are a few claims about how a burger came sandwiched between bread but Fletcher Davis’ version of events is said to be the most likely.

  1. The White Castle Burger, 1921

White Castle was the first fast food restaurant chain to open. The owner Walt A. Anderson had been operating food carts for many years before he decided to open a diner dedicated to burgers. In 1916 Walt was credited with inventing the hamburger bun and when he opened his restaurant serving square patties in a bun, his burger model became revolutionary.  Walt is also credited with creating the kitchen as an assembly food line identifying White Castle as the origin of the fast food industry.

  1. The Cheeseburger, Mid-to-late 1920s

The cheeseburger origins are contested as there are several claims for this. However, most sources suggest 16 year old Lionel Sternberger was the inventor when he decided to experiment and add cheese to a freshly fried burger when cooking at his dad’s Californian food shop, The Rite Spot.

  1. McDonald’s Hamburger, 1940

While the fast food concept had already been cemented by White Castle, and had been soaring in popularity since the 1920s, McDonald’s emphasis on fast and cheap food definitely helped moved the burger along. They introduced the concept of the ‘one minute burger’.

  1. Wimpy Burger, 1954

Fast food had become greatly established in America by the middle of the twentieth century which is when the larger food chains as we known them started taking their franchises around the world. Wimpy is but one example of a success story who by 1970, had over 500 restaurants in the UK alone.

  1. The Whopper, 1957

Burger King was another major fast food chain coming into play in America in the twentieth century. Spurred on by a rival restaurant’s invention, Burger King’s founder James McLamore decided there was a market for a bigger burger. It wasn’t until the early 1970s that this idea faced competition when McDonald’s chose to create the Quarter Pounder.

The Whopper has undergone many changes to its design, the bun switched to a sesame seed bread in 1970, the weight of the burger increased to 120g in 1985 and the bun was replaced again by a Kaiser roll. The larger than normal burger however proved to be a hit with customers.

  1. The Big Mac, 1968

The Big Mac started off under a couple of different names at one of McDonald’s franchises in Pennsylvania in 1967. McDonald’s were trying to compete with the local competition in Pittsburgh trying out new burgers. After the name changed to Big Mac and the sauce was added, it proved popular and became adopted by all US restaurants in 1968.

The design of the Big Mac was another revolutionary event in the evolution of the burger. With a three-part bun design, two patties and the special sauce, it paved the way for more creative inventions.

  1. The Gourmet Burger, 2000-

While the fast food industry was well and truly born and bred around the world, the millennium brought ‘better burger’ chains and gastropubs. This led to the creation of gourmet burgers. There’s a reason hamburgers and fast food burgers are able to be offered at low costs, gourmet burgers invite better cuts of meat, fresh toppings and more flavoursome patties. Traditional burger buns started being replaced by brioche buns and ciabattas.

  1. The Double Down, 2010

As the low-carb craze hit, KFC created the double down burger – a no-bun burger that consisted of two pieces of chicken with the toppings sandwiched between. While this had been designed as a one-off menu item, after achieving success it has now secured a permanent place in restaurants. Similarly, naked burgers are also becoming commonplace with more people opting to have their burger served in lettuce leaves to avoid the increased carbohydrate consumption. 

  1. The In Vitro Burger, 2013

In response for the world’s growing demand for meat, in 2013 scientists from an institute in the Netherlands created the first laboratory made burger. They took cells from a cow and turned them into strips of muscle to create a patty. Whilst there were mixed reactions to the ‘burger’, most comments were positive and agreed the technique had promise. Could this be the future and the direction the modern burger is heading?

Each of these stages had an impact on the burger becoming known as it is today. You could argue either one of the above events invented the hamburger but in reality, they all played their part. From the Roman’s idea of a meat patty, to the global higher quality patty that started retailing due to the Germans, to Old Dave’s concept of placing the patty between slices of bread, all steps were crucial in the evolution of the burger. It’s certainly interesting to see how the recipes and designs have transitioned over the years to provide us with a menu full of alternative dining options that suit everyone’s wants and needs.