This section is from the book "Practical Dietetics With Special Reference To Diet In Disease", by William Gilman Thompson. Also available from Amazon: Practical Dietetics with Special Reference to Diet in Disease.
Chambers gives the following example of a diet used by pugilists:
7 a. m. Light breakfast: oatmeal with little or no milk and sugar; one to three eggs, poached or raw; a cup of tea with little or no milk or sugar; a slice or two of toast. The eggs may be varied by a rare or well-broiled chop.
12 noon. Dinner (following a half hour of rest): roast beef or mutton and vegetables; cup custard and plum pudding. A heavy dinner may be eaten, unless it is desired to reduce the weight. Old, mixed, or Bass's ale is allowed, but only a little water should be drunk, for it favours obesity. If thirst is annoying, a pebble may be carried in the mouth to increase the flow of saliva.
An hour or two of rest should be taken after dining.
6 p. m. Light supper: toast, a mutton chop or an egg, a vegetable, and a cup of tea.
Percy studied the diet of a prize fighter twenty-two years of age, 5 feet 6 inches in height and weighing 119 pounds. "He breakfasted at 9 a. m., and ate one pound of mutton, weighed before cooking. He dined at 1 p. m., and ate the same quantity of mutton, with the addition of about two ounces of bread. And again at supper, at 8 p. m., he had the same quantity of mutton. At each meal he drank half a pint of ale, but no other liquid at any other time of the day. Nor did he eat any other vegetable matter whatever besides the small quantity of bread mentioned. He walked seventeen miles per day".
Such a diet would not be indorsed by most trainers, nor would it fit a man for sustained effort.
A noted New York prize fighter says that in training he is accustomed to eat almost any plain substantial food that he likes, relying largely upon beef, mutton, bread, and potatoes, but avoiding pastry and sweets. He drinks fluid freely until within a week of the contest, when he reduces the water ingested to a minimum.
Bicycle racers entering six days' contests undergo the severest kind of muscular strain and require a diet rich in protein and energy. They work from eighteen and a half to twenty-one hours out of the twenty-four, and have a minimum of sleep. They take most of their food in fluid or semisolid form, in part to save time and in part because it is easily digestible. Water is not drunk during the race. A dietetic study of bicycle racers was made in 1898 in New York by W. O. Atwater and H. C. Sherman. The most remarkable contestants were C. W. Miller, who rode 2007.4 miles in six days, and F. Albert, who rode 1822.6 miles. Miller lost four pounds the first day, but subsequently maintained his average weight. His average daily food consumption in grammes was: Protein, 169; carbohydrates, 585; fat, 181; having a total fuel value of 4,770 calories. His food was of very simple character, and pastry and pork, as well as alcohol and tobacco, were excluded during a month of training.
Albert, on the other hand, limited his diet chiefly by the exclusion of veal and fat meats. He smoked tobacco in moderation but did not use alcohol. He lost three pounds and a half in weight on the first two days of the contest, but subsequently regained them. His average daily food consumption in grammes was: Protein, 179; carbohydrates, 859; fat, 198; having a total fuel value of 6,079 calories. The protein metabolised by these two contestants was found to be about twice as much as that metabolised by the average mechanic, and they did more than two days' work in one. Each contestant lost "body protein equivalent to two or three pounds of lean flesh, and that no injury resulted therefrom would seem to indicate that these men had stores of protein which could be metabolised to aid in meeting the demands put upon the body by the severe exertion, without robbing any of the working parts, and at the same time relieving the system of a part of the labor of digestion. Possibly the ability to carry such a store of available protein is one of the factors which make for physical endurance" (Atwater and Sherman).
The dietetic training of jockeys is merely for the purpose of reducing weight, and more depends on their eating a small quantity of food than upon its restriction in variety. They should make their fare chiefly bread and meat, and abstain from much fluid.
Chambers points out that men who have brief holidays in the country often fail to get the maximum good of their outdoor life, because they are not in proper condition for it. If a shooting or walking trip is to be undertaken for a week or two, it is well to abstain for a fortnight beforehand from eating elaborate dinners, and to leave off sweets and pastry and live on a drier diet than usual.
In general the athlete in training, when not trying to reduce his weight, develops more energy from food and consumes more protein than the ordinary working man. In the case of the crews studied by Atwater this excess of energy equalled 400 calories, or 10 per cent, and the protein consumption was increased by 45 per cent. This excess of protein is demanded by the increased nervous tension which is lacking in the slow, methodical, muscular exertion of the day labourer (Zuntz).