Adam Rippon may have won hearts with his performance at the Winter Olympics this month, but the US figure skater has opened up about the darker side of the seemingly glamourous sport.
Rippon, who came out publicly in 2015 and became the first openly gay man in US history to win a Winter Olympic medal when he picked up bronze in the team competition in Pyeongchang last weekend, says the pressure to compete with the world's best skaters left him starving himself to stay in shape.
A New York Times report into the nutrition of the world's top skaters revealed that in 2016 Rippon's daily diet consisted of just three sliced of whole grain bread topped with small servings of margarine. The only other sustenance he allowed himself was three cups of coffeee containing low calorie sweetener.
"I looked around and saw my competitors, they’re all doing these quads, and at the same time they’re a head shorter than me, they’re 10 years younger than me and they’re the size of one of my legs," the sports star said in an interview last month.
Rippon went on to explain how he had grown up with a muscular frame, but after moving to California in 2012 to begin training with former Soviet Union coach Rafael Arutyunyan, he was immediately encouraged to lose weight.
"I’d do a few days having my three pieces of bread and then finish the whole loaf of bread and have 3,000 calories," the 28-year-old recalled, adding that he would tell his coach: "'Rafael, this is what I’m eating.’ And he said, 'I know. It’s really hard.'"
Adam, who opens up about his sexuality and sporting career in our new Body Issue, says that breaking his foot in 2017 made him wake up to the fact that he needed to strengthen his body and imporve his diet.
"I think I had a stress fracture before I broke my foot,” he explained., “and I think that was absolutely because I was not getting enough nutrients."
The Olympic star added: "I didn’t realize I was so tired all the time".
Adam now weighs 150lbs - 10lb more than he did in 2016 - and hopes that by speaking about the pressures on figure skaters to lose weight he can help others who may be struggling to eat healthily while competing at the highest level.
"It makes me dizzy now to think about it", he said.