You’ll Never Guess Olympic Weight Lifter Norik Vardanian’s Favorite Workout Snack

Norik Vardanian
Norik Vardanian competes in the 94kg snatch weight class at the USA Olympic Team Trials for weightlifting at the Calvin L. Rampton Convention Center on May 8, 2016 in Salt Lake City, Utah.  Melissa Majchrzak/Getty Images

When you think of the diet of an Olympic athlete, eggs, veggies, lots and lots of protein likely come to mind. But for Olympic weight lifter Norik Vardanian, his meals are a bit different.

“We have to eat fatty foods,” the second-generation Olympian (his father, Yurik, won gold in weight lifting in 1980) tells Us Weekly. “At the Olympic training center we stay with a lot of pentathletes and triathletes, and they have, like, fat-free food and food with a lot of fiber, but I don’t need food with a lot of fiber. I need that food to give me nutrition, to stay in me. I can’t have an empty stomach. I can’t go eat something and then be hungry 30 minutes later.”

With four-to-five-hour training sessions that leave him with little time for snacking, “good fatty foods” are key for the 29-year-old.

“It’s kind of expensive but, like, caviar,” he says of his preferred snack. “If you have a little bit of caviar, it stays with you for a long time. You would be surprised. A couple spoonfuls of caviar will keep you going for an hour or two.”

Vardanian’s snack of choice typically goes or about $50 to $75 per ounce, but can run to more than $350 an ounce.

Explaining that he eats the delicacy “as often as my bank account allows me,” Vardanian says he can also settle for nuts and trail mixes to hold him over.

“We get hungry a lot,” he says. “We’re dealing with weights all day long. Picking up iron and dropping it all day long. It’s not a natural thing to do, you know? Whereas running, it’s not going to require you as much energy. We’re wasting all this energy so we need that.”

Norik Vardanian
Norik Vardanian poses for a portrait at the 2016 Team USA Media Summit at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on March 8, 2016, in Beverly Hills. Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

While Vardanian now often works out at the Olympic training center, it was during training in Armenia, where he was born, that he picked up a love of caviar.

“In Armenia they would bring buckets of caviar,” he tells Us, adding that he’s tried all different kinds of the expensive delicacy. “It’s big over there, and then we had training camps in Russia and they were like, ‘What do you guys want?’ and we were all like, ‘Caviar.’ People, like our sponsors and stuff, they would bring a few buckets of caviar, which would last the whole team probably a week or two. I grew to love it. I love caviar.”

However, Vardanian’s girlfriend — fellow Olympic weight lifter Jenny Arthur — does not share his appreciation for caviar.

“She’s had it,” he says. “She doesn't like caviar. So when we go out to a sushi place, I’ll have all the caviar.”

The Rio Olympics begin August 5 and will be streamed live on NBCOlympics.com and on the NBC Sports app. The Rio Paralympics begin September 7 and will be streamed live on TeamUSA.org.

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