Bone Broth and Lion Blood: What Athletes Eat
"The athlete's body is a temple—a finely tuned machine powered by Evian, virgin lamb livers and kale leaves harvested by the silent monks of Kuala Lumpur..."
Athletes' diets are predictably healthy and pristine, except for the whole part where they are not.
Some do go whole ham on the uber diet trail. They eat how we expect professional sports figures eat. Their meals are laid out by the ounce, their caloric intake measured down to the last responsibly sourced halibut fillet.
This is not the rule, however. For every fat-concerned track and field star, there is an NFL lineman with explicit instructions to aim as much starch and protein toward his mouth as possible. Some diet to keep it off, others diet to keep it on.
The following is a full spectrum rundown of athletes' eating habits, ranging in volume from near anorexia to trough-feeding madness. Some are more normal than others, but they're all actual regimens tried by the people who make their living via physical prowess.
The Rock's 'Hercules' Diet
Seven meals, zero mercy.
While preparing for his role in Hercules: The Thracian Wars, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson ate like a giant, carnivorous locust.
His diet consisted of 14 egg whites, mountains of veggies and over three pounds of meat per day, including an eight-ounce fillet of steak for breakfast in the morning. All the meats were prepared dry and un-sauced, in the paleo spirit of food preparation.
The Weird Part: The Rock noted he started each day off with "1 cup Nemean Lion blood...(served fresh & warm;)." I presume he drank that out of the skull of a thrice-damned traitor.
Would I Try It?: Yes.
I couldn't sustain The Rock's Hercules diet, but we could all probably benefit from eating leaner meats and not drowning our every meal in gravy.
Manny Pacquiao's Organic Diet
The Pac Man is back on the winning track, and his new diet could be a part of his resurgence.
Prior to his rematch with Timothy Bradley, Manny Pacquiao began a new, all-organic dietary regiment founded upon "chemical-free" vegetables and meat.
The Weird Part: It's unclear exactly what food Pacquiao consumed while training, but whatever he ate, it managed to get the job done. The 35-year-old boxer won his rematch with Bradley by unanimous decision on Saturday.
Would I Try It?: Yes.
Organic is just another word for "shipped from Oregon so it costs more." Then again, there's a powerful placebo effect in believing the chicken you just ate was fed avocado and read The Giving Tree every night before bed.
The Usain Bolt McDonald's Diet
Usain Bolt's diet during the 2008 Summer Games was perverse, wrong and spectacular all at once.
The Jamaican sprinter claims he ate McDonald's chicken nuggets three to four times a day for two weeks in Beijing. Bolt said he found the Chinese cuisine unsuitable to his palate and ended up at the Golden Arches downing 20 to 40 nuggets per meal.
The Weird Part: Bolt estimates he ate ~1,000 nuggets during his stay in China. He also won three gold medals in that span.
Would I Try It?: No.
My greatest (and most embarrassingly pathetic) McDonald's streak included four late-night trips to McDonald's in four days, and I felt like the worst human being ever born afterward. Bolt did four times that amount and still won the distinction of world's fastest man. I cannot even fathom that.
The Herschel Walker Starvation Diet
By strict definitions, Herschel Walker is anorexic. He does not eat like a human should.
Even after announcing his plans to begin a career in MMA fighting at the age of 49, the former NFL running back continued his practice of eating one meal a day. This was while training vigorously for cage combat, mind you.
Walker wakes up every morning at 5:30 a.m. and does "750 to 1,500" push-ups. He skips breakfast and lunch and is a strict vegetarian. The only food that enters his body is his daily dinner of bread and salad. That's it.
Weirdest Part: Walker says he's undertaken three to four days of intense training without eating. He still somehow maintains a body weight of 225 pounds. How this is possible, we'll never know.
Would I Try It?: Nope.
All my workouts are followed by an immediate, 1,000-plus-calorie reward.
The Lineman Diet
The lineman diet isn't so much of a diet as it is force-feeding yourself calories with a fire hose.
Big men require big meals, but the amount of food NFL linemen are required to take down can become a disheartening chore.
Take Minnesota Vikings offensive tackle Matt Kalil for example. The 24-year-old must chow down 7,000 calories a day just to maintain his ~300-pound body weight.
The Weird Part: No matter what he eats that day, Kalil must down a chalky, 1,200-calorie protein shake before going to bed.
Would I Try It?: Tempting, but I don't think so.
The notion of eating with reckless abandonment is romantic, but sitting at a desk nine to 10 hours a day doesn't burn enough calories to warrant a test run.
The Lakers' Butter, Bacon and Bone Broth Diet
Diets are not supposed to be fun.
The practice infers depriving your body of all delicious things in life, which is why the Los Angeles Lakers' "Butter, Bacon and Bone Broth" regimen stands an oddball in the otherwise leafy and flavorless landscape of dietary restriction.
Players are encouraged to take in as many "good fats" as possible. Specifically, the diet calls for players to chow down on everything "grass-fed," including steak, bacon and butter. According to Lakers strength and conditioning coach Tim "Grass-Fed" DiFrancesco, the good fats found in these foods provide athletes the most efficient form of energy.
It may be the only diet that asks you to dress a steak with pats of butter and throw it on the grill. Kobe approves of this.
The Weird Part: Players are expected to down one to two cups of broth distilled from the joint bones of grass-fed cows every day. No word on whether or not they have to play "The Circle of Life" and hold Steve Nash up to the rising sun before imbibing said broth.
Would I Try It?: Yes.
The bone broth sounds geeky, but I could get down with steaks, bacon and butter three times a day.
John Daly's Diet Coke/Chocolate Milk Regimen
For most of his life, "dieting" rested somewhere between "feed Tamagotchi" and "teach barn owls how to read" on John Daly's list of priorities.
He didn't care about himself. His body was an amusement park/dumping ground for whatever food or tobacco he had in hand. Daly claims at one point in his life he was consuming around 26 cans of Diet Coke per day.
Granted, the drink doesn't have any calories, but the sheer amounts of caffeine and other chemicals he ingested had to take a toll. Nowadays, Daly just eats chicken wings and drinks chocolate milk by the gallon.
The Weird Part: Daly claims he hasn't drank alcohol in six years and has cut his Diet Coke intake down to 10-12 a day.
Would I Try It?: Never.
I despise Diet Coke, and avoid any soft drink that doesn't include alcohol.
The Lolo Jones Double Bacon Burger Plan
Does it count as a diet if it sounds like a combo meal at Sonic?
The weight-gaining regimen Lolo Jones began prior to the 2014 Winter Olympics was brutal, in a delicious, heavy-cream-and-bacon kind of way.
The former track star upped her caloric intake to 9,000 per day. Her meal plan included copious foodstuffs and slamming giant protein shakes, with the end goal of beefing up for the bobsled competition in Sochi.
The Weird Part: Every night around 10 p.m., Jones headed to McDonald's for double cheeseburgers.
Would I Try It?: No.
I'd never need 9,000 calories in a single day, but I can always be persuaded into late-night burgers.
Tim Lincecum's Double-Double Diet
Tim Lincecum's order at In-and-Out Burger is enough to feed two men and a fat Corgi.
Born with a black hole for a metabolism, the San Francisco Giants pitcher is a lifelong stick figure who can barely manage to keep on the pounds. It's not for a lack of trying, however.
Every time he's at In-and-Out, Lincecum orders three Double-Double burgers, two fries and a chocolate-strawberry shake. The total calorie count for Linecum's order amounts to 3,150—or more than your average adult male needs to eat in an entire day.
The Weird Part: Lincecum orders his burgers without lettuce or tomato. He wants to gain weight, just not with all that vegetable-y stuff.
Would I Try It?: Absolutely.
I would jump on this hand grenade of calories. For journalism.
Dwyane Wade's Chlorophyll Smoothies
More like BORE-OPHYLL!
Sorry. What I mean to say is Dwyane Wade's diet has become less saucy in the last several years. After turning 30, the Miami Heat star realized he couldn't continue eating cheeseburgers and still feel as energized on the court as he did in his mid-20s.
Thus he's shifted to "nature-made Red Bull"—an elixir made from beets, ginger and chlorophyll.
The Weird Part: Wade eats fruit salads in lieu of vegetables.
Would I Try It?: Yes.
Juicing is all the rage these days. I can think of worse ways to overspend on food.
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