Every time the Olympics roll around, we hear about athletes’ insane diets. Ryan Lochte eats pancakes, oatmeal, fruit, French vanilla coffee, and a six-egg omelette all before noon.
Lochte chows down on about 8,000 calories per day, but that’s nothing compared to the 12,000 daily calories Michael Phelps ate while training for the 2008 Beijing Olympics. That diet included two pounds of pasta, a whole pizza, and a couple fried egg sandwiches.
Wouldn’t it be nice to eat like that? Or at least enjoy whatever food you want? Well, it’s a fairy tale, even for most Olympic athletes. Lochte and Phelps are the exceptions, eating lots of carbs and junk food. Most Olympians have pretty normal (and healthy) diets. But as Vox explains, what athletes eat varies depending on the sports they play:
- Basketball and Soccer: 3,000-4,500 calories per day. Players need more carbs for sustained energy, but they don’t carbo-load. Soccer star Julle Johnston, for example, likes smoothies and chicken noodle soup.
- Wrestling, Fencing, and Rowing: 1,200-1,500 calories per day. These are weight-class sports, so competitors restrict what they eat. USA wrestler Jordan Burroughs starts his days with a ginger, turmeric, kale, and beet juice.
- Gymnastics and Diving: 2,000-2,500 calories per day. Meals are all about clean eating. Gabby Douglas likes plain chicken breast with asparagus and balsamic vinegar.