A lot of the diet fads that hit TV shows and bookstands were usually tried and tested first by athletes or movie stars. Some diets, like carb cycling, are fairly doable and easy to maintain. Some, on the other hand, like eating nothing but fruit, prove to be a little more taxing and sometimes even dangerous.
At the opposite end of the spectrum, some athletes do away with an amount of calories most people could only dream about consuming without gaining weight. It’s pretty common to see them hit a fast food restaurant up or have some sugary beverages. Why not? They get to burn it off almost instantly anyway. At least that’s the mindset behind some choices of athletes who fall out of the normal eating spectrum and will entertain the idea of putting “junk” into their systems.
A lot of athletes have meticulously laid out diets that were cooked up, no pun intended, by a nutritionist or doctor and are aimed at getting the maximum out of the athlete’s body and helping them maintain excellent immune systems to stay healthy. Some of them eat to maintain weight, like in the NBA, while some of them eat to bulk up, like in the NFL, and some of them aim to lose, like horse jockeys or gymnasts. Their everyday food regimes are crucial to their success just as much as the training they put in. Just like how a car can start to run badly if it has the wrong fuel so, too can an athlete.
Some of them have pretty odd eating habits that could be considered crazy. They range from being an insane glutton, to borderline starvation and drinking their own urine. So here’s 20 of the craziest athlete diets.
20 Chad Johnson
Chad Johnson has had some major ups and major downs in his career. While his employment hasn’t always been steady thought the years, the one that has been is his epic love affair with McDonald's. He apparently survives on just McDonald's and even tried working there for a day a few years ago. It’s what keeps him going and he has said in the past that he survives on it. He also said that if he were to be subjected to a random drug test, all he would test positive for would be Red Bulls and McDonald's. Look, we all love our McDonald's every now and then, but would you really be able to eat there every day?
According to Johnson, people should be able to eat whatever they want to eat, as long as they work out properly. McDonald's isn’t the enemy in Johnson’s book. Considering his multiple run-ins with the law, Johnson may not be the spokesperson McDonald's needs and won’t be joining Ronald McDonald’s crew any time soon.
19 Caron Butler
Caron Butler certainly used to do the Dew. At one point in time, he was drinking up to two litres, or eight cups of Mountain Dew a day. He has since tried to kick that habit and has had some success in reducing his intake, but he can’t completely turn his back on his favourite beverage. “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.” Butler said he used to get flack from the guys, who would be drinking their fruit infused waters, while he was sitting on the back of the bus with his sugary addiction. He even went to extreme lengths when he was on the Lakers to make sure Kobe Bryant didn’t catch him.
He also happens to own six Burger Kings after having worked at one in his youth. Burger King and Mountain Dew, what a combination.
18 Usain Bolt
The World’s Fastest Man also rivals as the World’s Biggest McDonald’s fan, but he doesn’t quite win that title. He does come pretty close though.
Usain Bolt likes to give some credit to his multiple gold medals to the power of chicken McNuggets. It was even reported that he ate around 1,000 nuggets in 2008 during the Summer Olympics in Beijing. Bolt apparently wasn’t a big fan of the local cuisine so he sought comfort and fuel in his favourite fast food dish. The Times even reported on his 100-nugget a day diet during the Summer Olympics.
Bolt appeared to have cleaned his nutrition act up by the time Rio rolled around and he still managed to wipe the floor with his competition. Experts are still baffled at his ability to win three gold medals on nothing but fast food, but the man is a legend for a reason.
17 Kobe Bryant
Kobe Bryant and the L.A. Lakers may have had a diet that some would consider borderline ritualistic, but they don’t seem to care. Especially since they ate this way at the behest of a doctor and nutritionist and it goes without saying that Michael Arnstein would die if he laid his eyes upon them feasting on their animal flesh and butter.
It’s better known as the butter, bacon and broth diet. According to Ken Berger’s 2013 article, the food sources are all humanely raised and grass-fed and the plan focused on eating healthy fat as both a healing agent and an energy source.
They liked to dress their steaks with butter before throwing them on the grill and the team also drank up to two cups of broth that was made with the bones of grass-fed cows. It’s pretty obvious why Caron Butler used to hide his contraband Mountain Dew around these guys.
16 Dwyane Wade
It’s a bit of an urban legend that Dwyane Wade loses up to five pounds every time he plays. Whether it’s true or not ( he does run a lot), it’s certainly something some people can only dream about doing. What people probably wouldn’t dream about is the smoothies Wade drinks every day. A nutritionist suggested that he try adding copious amounts of chlorophyll to his diet in order to properly refuel and reset his body after games. Wade took the suggestion to heart and now unwinds after a game with a big ole chlorophyll smoothie. Yummy.
Wade developed his new meal plan when he hit his 30-year-old slump and knew that he had to make a big change if he was going to stay at the top. He’s still going strong at 35, so there must be something magical in those smoothies.
15 Dwight Freeney
Dwight Freeney has the prototypical body of a linebacker. He’s tall, he’s built and he’s quick. A combination that is enough to drive fear into the hearts of his competitors. He’s able to maintain his physique and athletic ability due to Sari Mellman’s Progression Diet, at least according to him. The diet uses blood analysis to make bodies as strong and as fast as possible. The blood tests determine which foods he should be eating to maximize his inflammatory response and increase cellular functions.
Freeney is able to maintain a muscular build of around 250-300 pounds all while axing things like garlic, oil and pan spray from his diet. His fluids are also limited to water, tea and grape juice. His meals mainly consist of things like beef and pinto beans and nothing else. If Freeney goes out to a restaurant, he will bring his own ingredients and instruct the chefs on how to prepare his meal.
14 Wade Boggs
He LOVES beer. Wade Boggs’ affection for the beverage is so legendary that he apparently even managed to throw somewhere between 40 and 107 beers back in the span of 24 hours. Most people just settle on a nice number of 64 when telling the stories. His prowess even inspired the storyline of an episode of “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” when the gang tried to beat his 64 beer mark and failed miserably. However, Boggs himself has revealed that he actually did drink 107 in a day and considering his affection for the beverage, there aren’t many reasons to doubt him. He credited it to his “hollow leg”.
The former third baseman also loves chicken. An insane amount of chicken. He claims to have eaten an entire chicken before every single game. Maybe that was the secret power behind his hits.
13 Kazakhstan Olympic Athletes
Usually one of the biggest stories about something being shipped into The Olympics is about condoms, so this next story obviously flew under the radar, but not for very long.
Back in 2012, it was reported that Kazakhstan’s Olympic team had horse meat shipped to London in order for them use it as their secret weapon. It turns out that horse meat is kind of a staple in the cuisine of their homeland. Kazy and karta, horse meat-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 and help them get a leg up on the competition. Whether it was the horse meat or not, they did manage to meet their goal of winning three gold medals and nine medals all together. It was probably the drugs though, since they had some of their medals taken away after urine re-tests were done and some came back positive for performance enhancers.
12 Lamar Odom
Lamar Odom probably would’ve been one of the kids in “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” who just couldn’t help himself and ate the candy he wasn’t supposed to touch.
Odom finds that the food that best fuels his performance on the court is sweet and full of sugar. In fact, the more candy the better for him. He liked to eat his candy right before games and in the middle of the night when he was feeling a bit peckish. The best example of his sugar-fuel addiction would be when he ate an entire plate of Starburst jelly beans right before a game. He also enjoys Lifesavers, Hershey’s Cookies ‘n’ Creme bars, Twizzlers, and “peachy sugarcoated rings.” Wrigley made a replica of the Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy entirely out of candy in 2009 to honour the Lakers’ victory and Odom’s name was featured on the base.
11 John Daly
In case you missed it, PGA Pro John Daly absolutely loves Diet Coke. At one point in time, he was downing 26-28 cans a day, but did get himself to cut back to 10-12. Back in 2014, he spoke to The Guardian about his strange addiction and mentioned that he cannot, will not drink the Diet Coke straight, it must be with ice. Either way you pour it, that’s quite a lot of aspartame.
In addition to his beloved carbonated beverage, Daly used to be very fond of beer and also smokes like a chimney and can get 40 a day in. It’s safe to say that this diet doesn’t sound safe for anyone, much less an athlete. Although, he does have 20 pro wins under his belt so perhaps he has an argument to be made. Maybe not a winning one, but an argument nonetheless.
10 John Naber
John Naber became famous when he broke records and won four gold medals in 1976 at the Summer Olympics in Montreal. The swimmer’s world records for the 200-metre backstroke (59.19 seconds) and the 100-metre backstroke (55.49 seconds) held up for seven years.
He admittedly used to consume around 8,000 calories a day back during his competitive years, because he needed a lot to get him through training. He would start off with scrambled eggs covered in honey for breakfast. He also enjoyed snacking on boxes of Frosted Flakes and having extra helpings of dessert. There seems to be something in the calories with the American swimmers. Naber left Montreal as the most decorated athlete of the games and ended his Olympic career with five gold medals and six world records and Michael Phelps and his 12,000 calories a day achievements speak for themselves.
9 Robert Oberst
When you picture the diet of a 6’8 strongman who weighs over 400 pounds, does it consist of buying the entire pork section out at the grocery store? For Robert Oberst, it certainly does. He likes to pair his massive amounts of pork with massive amounts of rice, but no dairy and will consume it all over the course of a few days, so that’s maybe two or three trips to the store a week, where he buys out an entire section of meat. That’s a lot of Babe. He does get one day a week where he can eat whatever he wants though.
He also aims to eat 20,000 calories a day. Yes, you read that right, twenty thousand calories and you won’t find him snacking on popcorn, no, he likes to snack on even more meat. Not very surprising. The guy can log press 455 over his head so maybe he is on to something.
8 Laffit Pincay Jr.
It’s no secret that jockeys needs to make weight in order to ride and therefore, lots of them tend to have some form of an eating disorder. On top of that, many of them also develop drug and pain killer addictions, mostly in part to the types of injuries they sustain and their inability to stay off of a horse for long.
Laffit Lincay Jr. had an even crazier diet than some of his peers. He was so serious about things that he would eat just half of a peanut for a meal. Of course, it isn’t as bad as the ones who would forgo eating or purge, but half of a peanut is pretty crazy. There must’ve been something magical in those peanuts, because Pincay is the second-winningest jockey all time and he was the one riding Sham back in the 70s, who was the only rival of the legendary, Triple Crown-winning Secretariat. They came close during the Preakness and Kentucky Derby, but eventually fell short to Secretariat.
7 Michael Arnstein
Michael Arnstein takes vegan to a whole new level. This long-distance runner likes to get his fuel via fruits and perhaps the occasional raw veggie. He is a self-proclaimed “fruitarian” and has said that he sticks to a diet that is 80% carbs, 10% fat and 10% protein. Of course, the source of all of those macronutrients is fruit and lots of it. In fact, it has been estimated by CNN that he packs away 25-30 pounds of fruit a day. That’s 175 pounds to 210 pounds per week. He will eat some raw fish twice a year, if that. Arnstein considers eating 20 bananas a day to be normal, but sees milk and cheese as poison.
Ashton Kutcher tried to be a fruitarian so he could better get into character for his role in “Jobs”, but he ended up hospitalized two days before they started shooting due to his pancreatic levels being “insanely high”.
6 Lyoto Machida
The secret to Lyoto Machida’s UFC success is nothing other than his urine. Well, at least according to him. Machida likes to drink his pee, because he believes that it helps strengthen his immune system and get rid of toxins, even though it’s pretty much his own expelled toxins that his kidneys filtered out. Apparently it’s a bit of a family tradition though. The custom was passed down from his father, who had Machida adopt the urine therapy after he had a cough that wouldn’t go away for three years. Urine therapy also involves massaging one’s gums and body with their own urine.
There haven’t been any medical findings to support the claims that urine therapy is beneficial, but that doesn’t appear to be halting its practice. Especially with names like J.D. Salinger, Madonna (she only pees on her feet) and Moises Alou, (who urinated on his hands to alleviate health problems caused by his baseball glove) backing the practice.
5 Herschel Walker
This former NFLer and former MMA fighter has shown his ability to showcase his athletic prowess, regardless of the sport he is in. So it may come as a surprise that Walker is a vegetarian and hasn’t touched red meat in over two decades. If that isn’t surprising, maybe this next part is: Walker only eats one meal a day, skipping both breakfast and lunch, and it’s usually soup or salad with bread.
One meal a day isn’t healthy for anyone, but especially not an athlete who would have be burning way more calories than they put into their system, but he’s still kicking, much to the disbelief of doctors. Walker also only got around five hours of sleep a night and had a daily regime of 750- 1,500 push-ups a day and 2,000 sit-ups.
Surprisingly, Walker won the third season of “Rachel vs. Guy: Celebrity Cook Off” in 2014.
4 Michael Phelps
The most decorated Olympian of all time liked to train for over five hours a day, six days a week. So he obviously burns quite a lot of calories. In order to compensate for this and not widdle away into nothing, Phelps consumed around 12,000 calories on his training days when he was getting ready for Beijing. A sample of his daily menu would have looked something like this: 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. No McDonald’s, Michael?
By the time he was preparing for Rio, his habits had considerably tamed down and he wasn’t training for five hours, more line two or four. He upped his protein intake and stopped eating as many carbs for the 2016 games, but it didn’t seem to hinder him any.
3 Dwayne Johnson
Upon first glance, Dwayne The Rock Johnson’s meal plans aren’t that odd. They have protein, complex carbs and lots of veggies. What is weird is the amount of cod that he has. He has around 30 ounces of cod throughout the day and then tops it off with fish oils at the end of the night. He must be doing something right with all of that fish, because his physique could rival that of a bodybuilder any day. This is especially evident in the “Fast and the Furious” movies.
Oh and his cheat days? They’re pretty epic and look like they could induce a diabetic coma in anyone. He likes to share his cheats on Twitter after a long, strict diet. The one that got the most hits was 12 pancakes, four double dough pizzas and 21 brownies. That’s probably enough food for a family reunion. Unless Johnson is part of the family.
2 David Carter
Have you ever heard of a 300-pound vegan? Well, David Carter is living proof that they do exist. While being a vegan isn’t out of the ordinary or very odd, the fact that he maintains that kind of lifestyle while playing in the NFL is worthy of a mention, especially since he’s a defensive lineman. He aims to eat 10,000 calories a day in order to maintain his weight and said that his body felt significantly better and less inflamed when he cut animals and animal by-products out of his diet. He did initially lose 40 pounds when he started, but worked his way back up to 300.
He adopted the lifestyle in 2014 after watching the documentary “Forks over Knives”. After watching it, he said that he made the choice to stop feeding his muscle fatigue and tendonitis. He and his wife Paige Carter are both on the staff of Vegan Outreach.
1 Babe Ruth
His play on the field was legendary, but so was his ability to eat. The Great Bambino loved to have a big breakfast, consisting of six eggs, a porterhouse steak, that was most likely rare and potatoes. As for his drink of choice in the morning, it wasn’t coffee. No, he liked to start his day with four cups of bourbon and ginger ale. The breakfast of champions!
He also loved his hot dogs. So much so that he had to be treated for intestinal abscesses as a result. Despite his less-than-healthy approach to eating, which wouldn’t be taken so lightly in today’s MLB, Ruth managed to steal over 50 bases in his first four seasons with The Yankees and he managed to steal home 10 times throughout his career.
Maybe the Red Sox should’ve adapted his meal plan and they wouldn’t have had such a drought.