The Crazy Diets Of Olympic Athletes (Chocolate Milk? Big Macs? Yep.)



big-macOlympic hopefuls have some interesting ways to load up on carbs and protein, and we're not talking about raiding the bulk aisle at Whole Foods. For those who'll engage in the performance of their lives, it's no surprise that bizarre eating habits and food rituals go hand in hand with their competitiveness. From 20 pounds of meat and wine (!) to rigid pescetarianism, here are what the world's best have and will continue to chow on before all eyes are on them.

1,600 Calories, One Food
Yohan Blake, the Jamaican sprinter and 100-meter world champion, has been making waves for stealing Usain Bolt's thunder on the track during Olympic trials. When asked how he gets his athletic stamina, his answer was unbelievable: eating 16 bananas a day. At about 100 calories per peelable fruit, that's three-quarters the amount an average person needs in a day — in bananas!

Got (Lots And Lots Of) Milk?
U.S. gymnast Aly Raisman will be trekking to London soon for her first-ever Olympic Games, but this all-around powerhouse isn't just subsiding on meat, beans, and nuts for her protein intake. The Massachusetts native swears by chocolate milk, and tons of it. She claims it's been "scientifically proven to be the best recovery drink that you can have after your workout" for its high carbohydrate and protein content, and that other athletes pound the tasty beverage, as well. From the looks of how well trials went, we should have been guzzling a lot more of that Hershey's syrup back in the day.

No Pork, No Beef, No Lamb, No Dope
China's Olympic hopefuls are on a newly meat-free diet, but don't get PETA on the phone just yet, since this one's not by choice. Due to the country's pork supply being tainted with clenbuterol, Chinese athletes are steering clear of meats entirely in order to avoid the risk of accidental doping. While the World Anti Doping Agency has warned that Olympians could eat the dietary staple in federation-approved cafeterias and restaurants, Chinese athletes have been going cold turkey (and, well, pig) and eating fish and protein powder instead. Some of these competitors include the Chinese women's volleyball team, which, as their coach claims, have been suffering on the court since their dietary shift.

Would You Like Some Cheese With That 20 Pounds of Meat and Wine?
Things were a lot different in Ancient Greece. Opening ceremonies were done without the aid of LED lights, more people knew what the heptathlon was, and Bob Costas was surely nowhere to be found. But, back in those days, protein bars and Gatorade bottles were far from typical athlete sustenance. Early Olympians focused on a cheese-and-fruit-based diet, and one runner apparently started a meat-only fad when he hit a winning streak while subsiding on animal parts. Best of all, lore has it that wrestler and big-time winner Milo of Croton ate "20 pounds of meat and as many of bread, and he drank three pitchers of wine." Looks like a typical Friday night for us.

As Much McDonald's As Athletes — And Spectators — Can Handle
Michael Phelps has publicly refuted the joke rumor that he eats 12,000 calories a day, but teammate Ryan Lochte, on the other hand, is known to have a bit of an obsession with fast food. While competing at the Beijing Olympic Games in '08, Ryan apparently only ate McDonald's throughout his entire two-week stay. He publicly announced backing off of the greasy goods in preparation for London, but we wonder how he'll fare with the world's largest Mickey D's parked just outside the Olympic Arena. If he does choose to slip into his old ways, it shouldn't be too hard to keep the energy up — after all, it'll only take 21 and a half Big Macs to meet Phelps' minimum.

Not Much Of Anything At All
While some sports require athletes to consume, consume, consume, others ask quite the opposite of their Olympian hopefuls. Take Son Yeon-Jae, for example. The South Korean rhythmic gymnast eats "a sparrow's breakfast and lunch" and even skips dinner, an odd move for a professional athlete, and a thin one at that. But, in Son's eyes, it's necessary for a win. She admits, "Western gymnasts have longer limbs, so even if we weigh the same, they look slimmer. As such, I have to weigh less to look as good." (No one tell her about that on-campus McDonald's, mmk?)

Photo: Courtesy of McDonald's