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OnlyOnAOL: Olympic champ Shawn Johnson on what gymnasts really eat

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Nastia Liukin On Her "Olympic Career and Rio 2016"

By: Donna Freydkin

Shawn Johnson recalls with perfect clarity her major cheat meal after wrapping up the 2008 Olympics.

"The same thing all these girls are going to be eating: I had a nasty, huge cheeseburger. With fries," she says.

SEE MORE: Everything you need to know about the Summer Olympics

Johnson won team silver in Beijing in 2008, and the gold on the balance beam and the silver in the individual all-around. She officially retired in 2012 and is married to NFL player Andrew East. (Watch our interview with the 2008 gold medalist Nastia Liukin above). She thinks back to that time, wearing that gold medal, as "a pinch-me moment. Every time I see it or hear about it, I can't believe it."

OLYMPICS-GYMNASTICS/Like the rest of us, she was watching Simone Biles and the U.S. squad compete in Rio -- and take home a haul of medals. Biles won the gold in the all-around, Raisman took silver -- at age 22, over the hill by the standards of women's gymnastics.

"They were absolutely incredible. I was blown away every time I watched the women compete. Aly and Gabby (Douglas) returning – Simone is just ridiculous. She's so strong and so powerful and is able to throw skills we never thought were possible for a female athlete. She does it with so much ease,' says Johnson.

She attributes Raisman's success to her mindset.

"Aly is probably one of the most driven individuals I've ever met. She has an ability to motivate and drive herself unlike anyone I've ever seen. Being cheated out of her bronze medal drove her to redemption," says Johnson, of the 2012 tie-breaker that left Raisman without a medal.

OLYMPICS-GYMNASTICS/She's working with the American Egg Board, and says the relationship couldn't be more fitting.

"I've worked with a nutritionist my entire career. I ate some version of egg for breakfast for 15 years," says Johnson.

Speaking of, what do gymnasts eat? They don't survive on air and water.

"You start off with a good breakfast. You eat a lot of meats and proteins and vegetables and fruits. You can do omelets or hard-boiled eggs. For lunch, you do a protein, like a chicken, and vegetables and maybe some fruit. Dinner is honestly the same thing, protein and vegetables," she says. "We eat. But we are very clean eaters. We have to stay as lean as possible."

Sports Humanitarian Of The Year Awards 2015Johnson, who competed on "Dancing with the Stars" in 2012, is done with the beam and vault and bars. "I'm always tempted to get back into the gym. It's never serious. My time is done. I'll always miss gymnastics. I could never come back," she says.

But: "Once a gymnast, always a gymnast. It's a lifestyle."

7 PHOTOS
US Women's Gymnastics takes home gold
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US Women's Gymnastics takes home gold
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - AUGUST 09: (L to R) Gold Medalists Simone Biles, Gabrielle Douglas, Lauren Hernandez, Madison Kocian and Alexandra Raisman of the United States celebrate on the podium at the medal ceremony for the Artistic Gymnastics Women's Team on Day 4 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Rio Olympic Arena on August 9, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - AUGUST 09: Simone Biles of the United States poses for photographs with her gold medal after the medal ceremony for the Artistic Gymnastics Women's Team on Day 4 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Rio Olympic Arena on August 9, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - AUGUST 09: Gabrielle Douglas of the United States poses for photographs with her gold medal after the medal ceremony for the Artistic Gymnastics Women's Team on Day 4 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Rio Olympic Arena on August 9, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
US gymnast Simone Biles competes in the Floor event during the women's team final Artistic Gymnastics at the Olympic Arena during the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro on August 9, 2016. / AFP / Emmanuel DUNAND (Photo credit should read EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images)
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - AUGUST 09: Alexandra Raisman of the United States prepares to compete on vault during the women's team gymnastics final on Tuesday, August 9, 2016. The United States women won the event. (Photo by AAron Ontiveroz/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - AUGUST 09: Lauren Hernandez of the United States prepares ro compete on the balance beam during the Artistic Gymnastics Women's Team Final on Day 4 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Rio Olympic Arena on August 9, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
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