Arguably one of the biggest draws of becoming a professional athlete is the seemingly limitless amount of food one can consume after finishing a day’s worth of strenous workouts. When your job relies on your physical strength, every calorie counts.
While it’s undeniable that professional athletes are at their peak fitness levels, not every player achieves this status by heeding a diet of kale and kombucha. Some have chosen looser regimens, making things like McNuggets the center of their post-workout meals. But either way, the sheer volume of food intake truly blows us away. Here are 10 of the most insane athlete diets.
Average calorie count: 7,000 calories
Despite losing twenty pounds after coming down with pneumonia, the Minnesota Vikings offensive tackle maintains his 315-pound frame by indulging in a diet rich in junk foods. Back in 2012, his meal plan included a breakfast consisting of bacon, eggs, fruit, cottage cheese, toast, and sausage. Sounds harmless enough, but come lunchtime Kalil would indulge in pizza, burgers, and sloppy joe’s. In more recent years, his 7,000 calorie NFL diet includes high-calorie protein shakes, pasta, and plenty of snacks.
Sport: Marathon runner
Average calorie count: 4,000-6,000 calories
Long-distance runner Michael Arnstein, who has nicknamed himself the Fruitarian, lives off the 80/10/10 diet consisting of mostly raw foods. Arnstein has competed in over 50 marathons and attributes his successes to his 6,000 calorie raw vegan diet. The switch helped him shave 17-minutes off his race time. Every ten days, Arnstein purchases 500-lbs of fruit to feed not only himself, but also his four other family members.
Average calorie count: 12,000 calories
The most decorated olympian of all time has a diet nothing short of impressive. The swimming superstar pounds a whopping 12,000 calories per day, most notably while training for the 2008 olympics. His diet consists of a pound of pasta, an entire pizza, three fried egg sandwiches, grits, and french toast to name a few. After going viral, the Michael Phelps diet sparked a the “Michael Phelps Challenge” where people attempt eat for an entire day like the swimmer.
Average calorie count: ~5,000 calories
After retiring from the San Diego Chargers, the ex-lineman transformed his NFL diet and dropped 85-pounds in five months. Prior to retirement, the previously 300-pound player consumed nightly pints of Ben and Jerry’s before bed, and 700-calorie protein shakes. Today, Hardwick sticks to a Paleo diet consisting mostly of whole foods.
Grilled buffalo meat, baked potato fries, “Ballers” magazine with some handsome bald tattooed sumbitch on the cover… but the real star of the show is… a mound of Rice Crispy treats with my fork planted in the middle as if to say “It’s all mine baby”. #MyVersionOfTheMileHighClub #WhereFunIsHad #AndDaddyDontShare #GetYourOwnRiceCrispyTreats
Sport: WWE Wrestling
Average calorie count: 5,000 calories
Can you smell what The Rock is cooking? Turns out it’s lots of brown rice and fish. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson consumes a diet so dense in seafood that his yearly intake of cod amounts to 821-pounds of the fish per year. Understandably, a diet so routine can easily become monotonous. That’s why Johnson indulges in legendary cheat days. If you feel like you might like take on The Rock’s diet for yourself, watch Complex very own Sean Evans attempt a day in the life of The Rock and fail miserably.
Interviewed on phone this weekend with a journalist from firstwefeast.com. It’s online now and it’s a fun little read! https://firstwefeast.com/eat/nsane-training-diet-weight-lifting-splits-deep-end-omelettes/ (Meal in hand = Breakfast #2 = liver meat, onions, yellow squash, jujimufu homemade bodybuilder mashed potatoes.) #jujimufu #firstwefeast #selfie #sleepdeprived
Average calorie count: 3,400 to 4,500 calories
The inventor of “Acrobolix”—the cross between anabolic (tissue-building) and acrobatics—gets his jacked figure from consuming over 100 pounds of chicken per week. Once a week, Call will prep his meals, which includes 15-pounds of potatoes and 12 cups of rice. Call’s “Deep End Omelettes” are the stuff of legend.
Average calorie count: 9,000 calories
The Houston Texans defensive lead started “crushing avocados” after he learned his body was in need of some extra fuel. To increase his body fat, the player upped his daily intake of sweet potatoes and fell in love with brunch. A typical JJ Watt brunch meal includes stuffed french toast and a potato pancake omelette.
Average calorie count: 10,000 calories
Despite being a 300-pound football player, David Carter has been able to maintain his size while simultaneously eating a strict vegan diet. The 300-pound defensive lineman consumes 10,000 calories per day consisting of greens, rice, quinoa, nuts, and beans. According to GQ, Carter is “eating every two hours, and eating hard. He starts each morning with a huge batch of the bean smoothies in his Vitamix blender (enough to total 100 grams of protein) which he divvies up for the course of the day.”
Sport: WWE Wrestling
Average calorie count: ~4,000 calories
Although Riff Raff may be first and foremost a musician, his transition into a 240-pound neon animal proves that Jody High Roller is a serious athlete. With the help of Hulk Hogan, Riff Raff consumed late night pizzas, burgers, shrimp, and plenty of barbecue in order to reach his versace goal weight and join the WWE. This is one of the craziest diets we’ve ever seen.
Sport: Track and Field
Average calorie count: 5,500 calories
While most people would advise against daily trips to McDonald’s, Usain Bolt thrived on it. The olympic medalist consumed over 47,000 calories worth of Chicken McNuggets at the 2008 Beijing Olympics—and has the medals to prove they did him some good. According the The Huffington Post, Bolt consumed nuggets and fries for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, with an apple pie for a snack.