gontabunta/Fotolia

What Do Korean Athletes Eat For Breakfast? It's Not Exactly A Bowl Of Lucky Charms

By
Share
Ad failed to load

With the PyeongChang Olympics officially in full swing, people all over the earth are curious about this year's host country. I know in my circle of friends, our knowledge of South Korea consists mostly of K-pop bands, crap our President tweets, and of course, Korean barbecue, baby. Koreans are known for their rich food culture, from bibimbap to kimchi, and I find myself increasingly curious as to what their athletes are using to fuel their bodies during this intense competition. What do Korean athletes eat for breakfast? Because, truly, I know zilch about Korean breakfast foods, and as it's the most important meal of the day, I'm dying to know.

Korean athletes, like all athletes, watch their diets closely, attended at times by teams of nutritionists, kinesiologists, and doctors who work in tandem to produce a winning combination of training and nutrition, like that of South Korean rhythmic gymnast, Son Yeon Jae, reported Allkpop. The foods they eat for breakfast look nothing like what most Americans would expect for the morning meal. There really isn't anything in the way of sugary breakfast cereal or chocolate chip pancakes and eggs. Instead, Korean breakfasts look much like the other meals of the day; kimchi, rice, various vegetables, and a bit of carefully prepared meat, served alongside tea or coffee and plenty of water.

Giphy
Ad failed to load

I spoke with Korean nutritionist and PhD candidate in exercise physiology, Soon Kim Yeun, RD, and asked her what Korean athletes eat for dinner. She tells Romper, "Athletes in Korea are very well-groomed in their habits, but like any young person, they will indulge. Most Koreans still eat traditional banchan [small dishes of prepared vegetables and tofu] and some meat in the morning, but more Western foods are becoming popular." She notes that American and British cereals and French pastries are gaining steam as fast and easy foods for the morning.

"When I'm working with my runners, I encourage them to eat very little meat. I stress the importance of maintaining their weight and getting enough fermented foods so that their digestion works predictably." Soon tells Romper that foods like kimchi and gochujang paste, as well as fermented soy pastes, work with the microflora in the gut to prevent problems that might slow down a runner. "Breakfast is their largest meal, and they eat it after their first training session of the day. They work out while fasting to rev up their metabolism." Soon notes this likely isn't the case for other sports, but most runners prefer to run on a mostly empty stomach. "They might have some fruit or nuts before their run, but that's all."

Giphy
Ad failed to load

She notes that the tofu is prepared simply with little oil and lightly seasoned with a little soy sauce or doenjang, a fermented soybean paste. Seaweed is abundant, as are omelets rolled up with various vegetables stuffed within, served cold. As for their beverages, "Many start their day with hot tea or coffee, similar to Western tradition, but I prescribe hot water with lemon for the electrolytes, which is what many athletes drink, no matter where they're from." Apparently, it's just a really good way to start your day if you're an athlete.

Coffee culture is huge in South Korea. Soon says it's hard to break that habit when it's such a routine part of your day. Many of the athletes choose to drink a few Americanos or cappuccinos, which in South Korea means a latte with cinnamon added in the end. They don't chug it back like we do, though. They sip their drink slowly over the course of their breakfast or just after eating. As a typical American who slugs back her first cup of coffee before she even considers eating, I have a hard time imagining slowing down the process by which the caffeine enters my bloodstream. (But if it improves my running, I just might. Although, as much as I adore kimchi and tofu, I'll probably stick to my oatmeal and apple.)

Check out Romper's new video series, Bearing The Motherload, where disagreeing parents from different sides of an issue sit down with a mediator and talk about how to support (and not judge) each other’s parenting perspectives. New episodes air Mondays on Facebook.

Ad failed to load
Ad failed to load
Must Reads

10 Reasons Why I Won't Apologize For Giving My Toddler A Pacifier

My first child had no interest in a pacifier. I tried a couple times to get him to take one, but he always spat them out and gave me an incredulous, judgmental look. But my second? It was love at first suckle. And after a while, the incredulous, judg…
By Jamie Kenney

Being A Dog Parent Prepared Me For Having A Baby, Really

I’ve always wanted kids; I was never as sure about raising a puppy. Then I spent six months living with someone who brought home an eight-week-old golden retriever puppy, and I see no way to make it out of that experience claiming not to love dogs. I…
By Heather Caplan

20 Of The Most Popular Unisex Names Of All Time, That You'll Be Hearing More Of For Sure

You might think of unisex names as a fairly recent trend, but the truth is these versatile monikers have been commonly used throughout history (well, some more commonly than others). That's why the team over at Names.org recently compiled a list of t…
By Jacqueline Burt Cote

How To Have A Date Night With No Babysitter, Because It's Easier Than You Think

After having children, many couples feel that their love lives immediately go out the window, but it's so important to make your romantic life a priority so both you and your partner can be the best versions of yourselves you can be. As we all know, …
By Abi Berwager Schreier

9 Ways Baby No. 3 Made My Family Feel Complete

My husband and I decided to have another baby right after we got married and, well, we had no idea what we were getting into. I got pregnant right away, endured a high-risk pregnancy, and, before I knew it, my third baby had arrived. Together, we emb…
By Steph Montgomery

8 Stereotypes About New Dads That Are *Totally* True

Much like new mothers, new fathers have a lot on their plate. Parenting can be scary and complex, especially at first and regardless of your gender. People want to do right by their kids, after all. And since all new parents are a hot mess, dads are …
By Priscilla Blossom

8 Differences Between Being Pregnant In Your 20s Vs 30s, According To Science

Whether you're planning a pregnancy, or just thinking about your future family, it's typical to think about things like child-spacing, how many kids you want, and when to start trying to conceive. When making your pro/con list, you might also conside…
By Steph Montgomery

16 Moms Share Remedies For Their Most Intense Chocolate Cravings During Pregnancy

For better or worse, pregnancy is usually synonymous with odd cravings. Sure, there are the stereotypical combos like pickles and ice cream that plague gestating women the world over, but there are other mind-boggling combinations, too, including but…
By Candace Ganger

Putting Sunscreen On Your Kid Doesn't Have To Be A Fight — Here's How To Do It

I am almost translucent, so me and sunscreen are basically besties at this point. Even though my children are beautifully deep brown thanks to my husband's genetics, I still slather them like biscuits being buttered because I refuse to take risks wit…
By Cat Bowen

7 Things A Mom Really Means When She Says She Doesn't Want Anything On Mother's Day

Every year my family asks me what I want for Mother's Day, and every single year I tell them the same thing: Nothing. So, by now, they know that when I say "nothing" I absolutely do not mean "nothing." In fact, there are more than a few things a mom …
By Candace Ganger

19 Moms Share The Way They Cured Their Pregnancy Comfort Food Cravings

I was obnoxiously sick during the first trimester with, "lucky" for me, both of my pregnancies. For the first three months I lived on saltines, lemonade, and fresh bread. Once I was able to eat, however, all I wanted was savory and sweet comfort food…
By Dina Leygerman

8 Fascinating Facts About Babies Born In May, The Luckiest Month Of All

The height of all things fresh and springy, May is an excellent month to have a baby. It's a time of growth, graduations, and outdoor celebrations. And these fascinating facts about May babies will give you more reasons than ever to appreciate childr…
By Lindsay E. Mack

I Used To Judge Formula-Feeding Moms — Until I Became One

The other patrons in the hip Brooklyn restaurant probably couldn’t care less what I was feeding my baby, but I’ll always remember the shame I felt as I quickly mixed up his bottle of formula in front of them. I admitted to my childless friend that I …
By Katherine Martinelli

7 White Lies It’s Necessary To Tell To Keep Your Relationship Healthy

Telling lots of lies typically isn't associated with a healthy, strong, lasting relationship, and that's still certainly true, but not all lies are exactly the same. Though you've probably heard from someone at least once or twice that the lie they t…
By Lauren Schumacker

The Skinny Jeans That Saved Me Postpartum

Accepting my post-pregnancy body is hands-down one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done. It’s something that I still work on every single day. During my first pregnancy, I was 20 years old, so I managed to bounce back quickly. In fact, I dropp…
By Allison Cooper

7 Ways Your Baby Is Trying To Say They Feel Safe

In those first weeks of new motherhood, it can feel like you need an interpreter for your newborn. With their limited means of communication, figuring out what message your baby is trying to get across to you can be a challenge. With time, however, y…
By Kimmie Fink

Here's Why Dogs Are Obsessed With Babies' Poop, According To Science

Most family dogs seem to understand babies, and they're more than happy to make friends with the newest member of the pack. It's adorable... for the most part and until you go to change your little one's diaper. Suddenly, you're wondering why dogs ar…
By Lindsay E. Mack

6 Signs You're Meant To Have A Big Age Gap Between Kids

There's a five year age difference between my two children, to the day. Their age gap wasn't planned but, for a variety of reasons, works well for our family. And since I was so focused on having a second baby, I totally overlooked the signs that wou…
By Candace Ganger

Here's How To Introduce Your Pet To Your Baby & Make Everything As Calm As Possible

Our home, which we lovingly refer to as “the funny farm,” is filled with four-legged family members. We have two crazy beagles and two cat jerks, and boy are they loved and spoiled. (As they should be.) But we are now finally having a baby of our own…
By Abi Berwager Schreier

Here's The Right Birth Method For You, According To Your Zodiac Sign

If you're pregnant, you've probably given childbirth some serious thought. Some moms-to-be prepare a meticulous birth plan, while others are comfortable just going with the flow. And me? Well, I made a plan... but that plan was useless when faced wit…
By Steph Montgomery

My Dog Knew I Was Pregnant Before My Family Did

Growing up, I was 100 percent sure I'd be a mom one day. To a dog, that is. My baby plans came later. And once my husband and I were sure we wanted both a dog and a baby, we'd add to our joint dog-and-baby name list over Sunday brunch or on date nigh…
By Melissa Mills
)}