The 20 Most Insane Professional Athlete Diets
The Great Bambino’s baseball skills weren’t his only claim to fame. Ruth would religiously enjoy a breakfast that included a half dozen eggs, a porterhouse steak, and potatoes washed down with a quart-sized container of bourbon and ginger ale. He also had a penchant for hotdogs. He liked them so much that, after once eating over a dozen of them, he had to be taken to the hospital for treatment of an intestinal abscess.
“I’m a Mountain Dew addict,” Caron Butler once said, and there’s really no better way to sum up this NBA veteran’s crazy diet. At his lowest point, Butler was consuming two liters of the sugary soda a day. Now, he still enjoys a Dew every now and again, but he tries to limit his intake. “I can get away from the streets, I can get away from all of these different things,” Butler said. “I can’t get away from Mountain Dew.”
If you wanted to practice creating understatements, you could start with the phrase, “Chad ‘Ochocinco’ Johnson loves McDonald’s.” This NFL player’s obsession with Mickey D’s is real. It’s so real, in fact, that he even decided to work at McDonald’s a few years back. He survives on McDonald’s, and notably responded to questions about a drug test by telling reporters that the only things he’d test positive for were Red Bull and McDonald’s.
NFL defensive lineman David Carter is no different in terms of weight than any other professional lineman. What separates this 300-plus-pound athlete from the rest is that he maintains his stature, muscles and all, while leading a strictly vegan lifestyle. A vegan diet isn’t ordinarily so insane, but the fact the Carter can follow one while playing in the NFL is worthy of note. In explaining his story on his website The 300 Pound Vegan, he says that making the change away from animal-based foods has saved both his life and “the countless lives of voiceless and defenseless animals everywhere.”
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson
If you’re familiar with a bodybuilder’s best friend, the food scale, then a quick scan of The Rock’s meal plan may leave you speechless. In this version of his diet, Johnson, a onetime college football star and then professional wrestler, consumes over two pounds of cod, not to mention his other giant-sized protein sources and an endless supply of healthy carbs. The Rock’s regular diet is nuts. But his cheat days? Even crazier.
The rumor is that NBA star Dwyane Wade loses five pounds every time he plays. While that may seem suspect to some and expected by others (these guys do run a lot in games, you know), one thing is concrete: Wade loves chlorophyll. The nutritionist that suggested chlorophyll to him noted the high importance for Wade to properly refuel his body after competing. Thus, Wade regularly consumes chlorophyll smoothies that include other reputably beneficial components like beets and ginger.
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Dwight Freeney, a linebacker large, quick, and efficient enough to inspire fear in quarterbacks across the NFL, has some surprising dietary quirks. Reported as a follower of Sari Mellman’s Progression Diet, a diet that uses blood analysis to render bodies as strong, fast, and healthy as possible, Freeney is able to maintain a body weight between 250 and 300 pounds while keeping things like garlic, pan spray, and oil out of his diet. The regimen limits his fluids to water and, oddly, grape juice, with sparse amounts of tea.
Former NFL player and current MMA fighter Herschel Walker is as athletic as it gets. He was so good at football, in fact, that, prior to his NFL days, he was a recipient of the Heisman Trophy. At over 220 pounds of pure muscle, many are surprised to hear that Walker is a vegetarian. He hasn’t touched red meat in over two decades, and he only eats one meal a day, which consists of salad or soup with bread.
Have you seen the video of that long-haired, incredibly-muscular guy doing a split on chairs with a weighted barbell over his head? That man would be Jon Call, the inventor of Acrobolix. Acrobolix is a mixture of acrobatics and anabolic exercise, which means its founder’s diet must optimize his ability to build muscle and retain flexibility. Each week, Call prepares a staggering 100 pounds of frozen chicken, 15 pounds of potatoes, and 12 cups of dry rice. Meal prep is one thing, but Jon Call’s meal prep is a whole different animal.
Kazakhstan Olympic Athletes
A lot of incredibly athletic things occurred when London hosted the Olympics in 2012. One not-so-athletic-but-still-related-to-athletics thing may have flown under your radar: Did you know that the Kazakhstani Olympic team had horse meat shipped to London? If you’re asking yourself, “Why horse meat?” don’t fear, there’s an answer: Kazy and karta, horsemeat-based sausages, and caviar are traditional, indispensable Kazakh dishes. The team thought that eating these protein-rich foods would prove beneficial for its athletic performance.
Players on the NBA’s Los Angeles Lakers have been urged (by a doctor and nutritionist) to partake in a nutritional plan that would make any vegan turn green. This diet, the butter, bacon, and bone broth diet, came to light in a 2013 article by Ken Berger. The sources of food are all humanely-raised and grass-fed; the plan focuses on eating healthy fat as both an energy source and a healing agent. In the article, Berger writes, “Not only are the Lakers unafraid of healthy fats, they practically freebase them. The pregame beverage of choice is something the players call ‘bullet-proof coffee’ — coffee seasoned with two teaspoons of pastured butter and heavy, grass-fed cream.”
Lamar Odom isn’t the first professional athlete to attribute stellar performances to something in his diet. For former NBA star Odom, the food that fuels his best performances is of the sweeter variety. He enjoys candy — the more sugary the better — before games and sometimes even in the middle of the night. One infamous example of Odom’s candy-fueled diet’s quirkiness was when he ate an entire plate of Starburst jelly beans prior to playing. He also enjoys Lifesavers, Hershey’s Cookies ‘n’ Creme bars, Twizzlers, and “peachy sugarcoated rings.”
Laffit Pincay Jr.
Even newcomers to the sport of horse racing can figure out that a lighter jockey is desirable. One famous jockey, Laffit Pincay Jr., took his weight so seriously that he would consume half of a peanut as a meal. It must have worked, too, because the now-retired Pincay remains the second all-time winningest jockey in flat racing.
You’ve heard of the notoriously tight-lipped interviewee and NFL titan Beast Mode before, but did you know about his love affair with Skittles? Since he was very young, Lynch has enjoyed Skittles during football games. His mother used to give them to him while he was playing growing up, and, by the time he reached the collegiate level, his school was buying Skittles for him. Fast-forward to present day, and you’ll find Lynch seated as a spokesperson for the fruit-flavored treat. He eats them in celebration of every touchdown.
Michael Arnstein is a professional long-distance runner, so it goes without saying that he needs high stores of energy. Sometimes he runs 200 miles in a week. While you may think that this would mean tons and tons of rice and pasta, Arnstein professes that fruit is the key. Having nicknamed himself “The Fruitarian,” Arnstein and the followers he’s accumulated stick to a diet made of 80 percent carbs, 10 percent fats, and 10 percent protein. The source of all of your macronutrients? Fruit, and just fruit (with an allowance for the occasional raw veggie). Oh, and don’t forget: Milk and cheese are considered poison and eating 30 bananas per day is normal.
If you thought you were going to get through this list without hearing about the training diet of Michael Phelps again, you were wrong. Here’s the gist of it: Training for over five hours a day six days a week burns a lot of calories. Thus, Phelps consumes about 12,000 calories on the days that he trains. Three fried egg sandwiches topped with cheese, lettuce, tomato, fried onions, and mayo; two cups of coffee; a five-egg omelet; a bowl of grits; three slices of French toast with powdered sugar; and three chocolate chip pancakes constitute an example of a training day breakfast for Phelps.
Picture this: You’re a 6’8” athlete weighing more than 400 pounds. Your sport? Strongman. You need to eat, obviously, but how do you do it? You do it how Robert Oberst does in this segment by Vice’s Munchies channel. Some of Oberst’s grocery list highlights include buying pork — all of the pork in the meat section — and consuming giant bags of rice over the course of a few days. He loves meat snacks, and his goal every day is to consume 20,000 calories. Yes, that’s a two followed by four zeros. The man can log press 455 pounds over his head; his diet choices are justified.
There’s really no other way to say this better than Time did in the title of its 2013 article, “Usain Bolt Ate 100 Chicken McNuggets a Day in Beijing and Somehow Won Three Gold Medals.” Bolt, a gold medal-winning Jamaican sprinter, was in Beijing for 10 days. That means his grand total was roughly 1,000 of McDonald’s finest chicken treats (roughly 4,700 calories of nuggets per day), and, amazingly, it worked.
If you’re an avid fan of FXX’s It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, then you’re familiar with the legend that is Wade Boggs. In the season 10 premiere, the eccentric characters of the show are attempting to beat this MLB legend’s famed beer-drinking record. The actual number of beers that Boggs drank isn’t clear, but claims vary from anywhere in the 40s and 50s range to 107 beers in 24 hours. Regardless of which account you believe, the number is astronomical. Oh, and he also ate a whole chicken before every game. He believed it helped him it, and with 3010 hits and 118 homeruns in 18 seasons we won’t argue with him.
If you haven’t heard, PGA pro John Daly loves Diet Coke. In 2014, he told The Guardian about his strange enthusiasm for the drink. “If I don't have ice, I can't drink it. I can't have it straight because of the carbonation. I have to drink it slowly and not out of a can, I need some ice. I used to have 26-28 cans a day. Now I have 10-12 at the most,” he said. And, on top of that, he smokes around 40 cigarettes a day. With 20 professional golf wins, it’s hard to say that this diet isn’t good for his game. (Daly was once known for a fondness for beer, too, by the way, and has been known to hit a tee shot off a beer can.)