The Diet of an Athlete | Legends Blog June 19 2019, 1 Comment
This week we dive into what a pro athletes eat. While it depends on the type of athlete, most have pretty unique diets compared to the average joe. Find out how your favorite athletes from the past and present ate. We explore daily diets, pre-game meals, beverages and weird eating superstitions.
Breakfast - Porterhouse Steak, Potatoes, Quart of Bourbon and Ginger Ale, 18 Egg Omlet
Snack #1 - 2 Hot Dogs, 2 Coca-Cola
Lunch - 2 Raw Steak, 2 Orders Potatoes, 1 Lettuce Head with Roquefort Dressing
Snack #2 - 2 Hot Dogs, 2 Coca-Cola
Dinner - 2 Porterhouse Steaks raw, 2 Lettuce Heads with roquefort dressing, 2 Cottage Fried Potatoes, 2 order of Apple Pie
After Dinner Snack - Chocolate Ice Cream, Picked Eels
Ruth was the most legendary eater in sports history, bar none. He preferred to take his steaks down raw, covered in a whole bottle of chili sauce. The Bambino had a breakfast fit for a dinosaur, reputedly starting his day with 18-egg omelets. 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. Rumor has it, that during his playing days he sunk beers and guzzled hot dogs at a rate that would have put most people in hospital. Another tale mentions a time Ruth ate 12 hot dogs and drank 8 bottles of soda in between a doubleheader. The Yankee would routinely put on eating shows, amazing crowds of fans gathered around. Ruth was someone who basically ate to a crowd. He grossly over ate when strangers or new friends were with him. He loved his reputation as a greedy feaster, he loved to put on a show to any spectators. Sometimes it was a comedy act, like the time he asked a waiter to decorate his steak with a border of lamb chops. On average it was said Ruth ate around 6,000 calories per day. One of his favorite snacks was pickled eels and chocolate ice cream. Legendary sportswriter H.G. Salsinger who once covered Ruth noted, “He could eat more, drink more, smoke more, swear more, and enjoy himself more than any contemporary.”
Breakfast - Fresh Orange Juice, Egg-White Omelet
Snack #1 - Turkey Sandwich, wheat bread, cheese, Lettuce, Tomato
Lunch - 2 Turkey Sandwiches with wheat Bread, Lettuce, tomato
Dinner - Either salmon, Chicken, or Steak, side of Potatoes or Rice, Vegetables
The hall of fame big man prefers fresh squeezed orange juiced directly from his backyard in Florida. He likes to par it with an egg-white omelette. The current TNT personality is a bit of a sandwich freak. He admits “ My definition of bad eating is "too many sandwiches." I'm a sandwich guy: turkey sandwiches, turkey burgers. My turkey sandwich is just low-fat mayo from Whole Foods, and then thin wheat bread, a couple slices of turkey, a couple slices of cheese, lettuce and tomato, and that's it.” In his playing career, O’Neal wanted to pack on pounds prior to the 1998 season. His approach was simple, instructing his chef to overload his meals with meat and potatoes. He also admitted to his affinity for more comfort food when he was younger. ”When I was playing, I was a burger and bread eater, and you can't really do that every day if you're not getting exercise," Shaq told Men's Health in 2012. O’Neal admits his favorite dish is still his mom’s mac and cheese.
Breakfast - 900 Calories of Oatmeal, 6 Eggs
Breakfast 2 - 5 Eggs
Lunch - 3 6-9 oz grilled chicken breasts, 4 cups of rice, 4 cups of vegetables
Dinner - 3 6-9 oz grilled chicken breasts, 4 cups of rice, 4 cups of vegetables
Total Intake - 24 eggs, 50 slices of bacon, 20 chicken breasts, 13 Avocados, Several Sweet Potatoes
Watts has one of the largest diets known to man. He starts with 900 calories of oatmeal, pallet of bacon, and an omelet of 9,00 calories. According to Watt, in order to reach the amount of calories he needs to maintain his bulk, he's begun "smashing avocados" like they were going extinct, to the tune of 13 avocados. Over the course of a single day, Watts goes through 24 eggs, 50 slices of bacon, 20 chicken breasts and enough sweet potato for a small country. He claims to wrap smaller meals in bacon just to get them down. His daily consumption sometimes consist of 50 slices of bacon and 20 chicken breasts. Watt's calorie equivalent in Big Macs, equals out to about 35 Big Macs.
Breakfast - Oatmeal with Blueberries and Strawberries, 6 Eggs, Banana and Apple
Second Breakfast - 4 eggs, 2 slices of Wheat Toast with Peanut butter, Banana, honey, 2 slices wheat toast with jelly
Snack #1 - 3 Chicken Breasts, whole wheat Pasta and Italian dressing, Side of Broccoli
Lunch - Chicken Breasts , Mashed Sweet Potatoes, Steamed Carrots
Snack #2 - Can of Tuna, 2 Eggs
Dinner - Chicken or Fish, with a Cup of Rice and Two Cups of Veggies
The offensive lineman is obsessive with carbs and lean protein. He's a big advocate of the basics, chicken or fish, rice and veggies. Over the course of the day the Tennessee Titan would put down between 157 to 315 grams of protein a day. He insisted on the intake of carbs as energy to push him through long workouts.
Breakfast - Large bowl of Oatmeal with Strawberries, Blueberries and Raisins; Scrambled Egg Whites, glass of Orange Juice
Snack #1 - Shake made from a combination of Gatorade, Protein Powders, and Fruits
Lunch - Chicken, Whole-grain Pasta and Small Green Salad
Snack #2 - Shake made from a combination of Gatorade, Protein Powders, and Fruits
Game Meal (Game Day) - Chicken Breast or Lean Steak, Pasta or Potato, Steamed Vegetables
Dinner - Whatever he wants
In an article by the Chicago Tribune, Jordan’s trainer, Tim Grover, revealed that Jordan had a goal of consuming five to six meals a day. Jordan’s priority was to regulate blood sugar levels and to boost metabolism while watching weight gain. The basketball player’s diet consisted primarily of carbs: 70 percent carbs, 20 percent fats, and 10 percent proteins. Grover said. "We have developed a routine with the shakes that allows Michael to get his nutrients before or after practice or even on the golf course. You don't necessarily have to eat five meals as much as replenish your body five times a day.” Jordan drinks plenty of fluids (mostly Gatorade or water) to avoid dehydration.
Breakfast - 5 Pancakes, 3 Cups of Fruit
Breakfast 2 - 5 Pancakes, 1.5 Cups of Fruit
Lunch - 3 6-9 oz grilled chicken breasts, 4 cups of rice, 4 cups of vegetables
Dinner - 3 6-9 oz grilled chicken breasts, 4 cups of rice, 4 cups of vegetables
Karl Anthony-Towns is something of a pancake king consuming 10 daily. He has 2 different breakfasts, one before a workout or practice and one after. He keeps lunch and dinner basic, both of which contain chicken, rice and veggies.
Breakfast - Vegetables, Brown Rice,
Lunch - Chicken, Vegetables, Quinoa,
Snack - Millet, Vegetables
Dinner - Salmon, Vegetables, Quinoa, Beans
Desert - Avocado based Ice Cream
He avoids white sugar, white flour, MSG, iodized salt, coffee, caffeine, alcohol, fungus, dairy, tomatoes, peppers, mushrooms, eggplants, and even several types of fruit. Allen Campbell, Brady's personal chef, revealed details of his Brady's diet in a recent interview with boston.com. "Eighty percent of what he eats is vegetables.” "I buy the freshest vegetables.” "If it's not organic, I don't use it.” "And whole grains: brown rice, quinoa, millet, beans.” "The other 20 percent is lean meats: grass-fed organic steak, duck every now and then, and chicken.” "As for fish, I mostly cook wild salmon," Campbell said. Overall, about 80% of his diet consists of vegetables and whole grains, while the rest 20% consists of lean meats. When Brady does indulge in sweets he reaches for ice cream made from avocados. Brady's diet, has become a fascination in the sports world. But the future NFL hall-of-famer does have a method to his madness, he doesn't eat nightshades like tomatoes, peppers, and mushrooms for fears of inflammation. Brady also doesn't drink coffee. He doesn't eat strawberries, doesn't eat many bananas, and avoids dairy.
Michael Phelps Diet
Breakfast - 3 Fried Egg Sandwiches, 5 Chocolate Chip Pancakes, 3 Slices French Toast, 5 Egg Omlet, Porridge, Grits
Lunch - 400 Grams of Pasts, 2 Ham Sandwiches, 1,000 Calories of Energy Drinks
Dinner - 1 Pepperoni Pizza, 400 Grams of Pasts, 1,000 Calories of Energy Drinks
While training for the 2008 Olympics, Phelps consumed 12,000 calories per day. His eating regiment was one of the most publicized by the mainstream media. People had a hard time believing the amount of food the rail thin Phelps consumed. A sample just breakfast 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. Phelps diet helped highlight the amount of calories some athletes at the Olympics had to intake just to maintain a decent level of energy.
Breakfast - Bacon, Eggs, Fruit, Cottage Cheese, Toast, Sausage
Lunch - Pizza, Burgers, Sloppy Joes
Snack - Protein Shake
Dinner - 12 Oz Steak, Mash Potatoes, Fruits, Vegetables, 2 Sushi Rolls, 4 Sausages, 1.5 PB & J Sandwiches, Garlic Bread, Orange Juice, 1,200 calorie weight gainer shake
The Minnesota Vikings offensive tackle maintains his 315-pound frame by indulging in loads of junk foods. On average Khalil puts down about 7,000 calories per day. 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.
Breakfast - Grilled chicken and steamed vegetables
Lunch - Grilled chicken and steamed vegetables
Dinner - Grilled chicken and steamed vegetables
Alex Gordon is by far the most boring eater we have ever encountered. Few pro athletes are as overly obsessed with preparation as the Royals outfielder. He avoids fried foods. He never eats candy. He hasn't had ice cream or a cheeseburger since 2012. "To totally avoid those types of foods for years is a whole other level of discipline that a lot of people in the general population can't fathom, nor do people in professional athletics often have that type of discipline," Royals strength and conditioning coach Ryan Stoneberg told MLB.com. Grilled chicken and steamed vegetables are the two big staples of Gordon's strict diet, and he always drinks tons of water. "I don't know if I eat to really enjoy food," Gordon once told the Kansas City Star. "I think I eat just to be successful on field.” Alex Gordon doesn’t understand the need for a diverse diet instead he just pounds grilled chicken and steamed vegetables. Still you have to admire his preparation for the sport he loves.
Breakfast - Egg-white omelet, Fruit
Snack - Protein Shake
Lunch - Salmon, Vegetables, Fruit, Quinoa
Dinner - 2 Chicken Breast, Vegetables, Potatoes, Red Wine,
Desert - Kale Based Cake
During the Summer of 2014, James used a no-sugar, no-dairy, no-carb diet. He ate nothing but meat, fish, veggies and fruit for 67 straight days, and it helped him achieve a slimmer frame. Though James is eating carbs again, his diet remains very healthy. The majority of his meals consist of lean proteins, complex carbohydrates, fruits and veggies. When he does let himself indulge, one of his favorites is a cake recipe that includes a helping of kale. LeBron also indulges in a bit of red wine almost every night. "I've heard it's good for the heart.” "Listen, I'm playing the best basketball of my life, and I'm drinking wine pretty much every day.” "Whatever it is, I'll take it," James told ESPN.
Spencer Myers - University of Maryland
Breakfast - Bacon, Eggs, Potatoes
Snack #1 - 4 PB & J Sandwiches, 3 Protein bars, 10 Ounces of Goldfish Crackers
Lunch - Unknown
Dinner - Unknown
Though an interview with University of Maryland student-athlete Spencer Myers last fall, it was revealed calorie consumption in the five figures isn’t unthinkable. As a wrestler and defensive end for the Terp's football team, it takes over 10,000 calories a day to fuel Myers. After a morning breakfast of bacon, eggs and potatoes, Myers consumes “four peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches, three protein bars and a 10-ounce bag of Goldfish crackers” as a midmorning snack.
Only Meal - Soup or Salad with Bread
This former NFL player and MMA fighter is a versatile and powerful athlete. So, it may come as a surprise that Walker is a vegetarian and has been for 20 years. If that isn’t surprising, maybe this next part is: Walker only eats one meal a day, skipping both breakfast and lunch.
Daily Diet - 30 Bananas, Grilled Chicken, Steamed Vegetables
The professional long-distance runner, needs high stores of energy. Sometimes he runs 200 miles in a week. While that mean tons and tons of rice and pasta for most runners, Arnstein professes that fruit is the key. Having nicknamed himself “The Fruitarian,” Arnstein sticks to a diet made of 80 percent carbs, 10 percent fats, and 10 percent protein. The source of all of your his macronutrients is Fruit. Milk and cheese are considered poison to him and eating 30 bananas per day is normal.
Drinking Routine: 3 Liters of Gatorade per day
Manning had a deep obsession of constantly drinking Gatorade during his playing days. He maintained he drank Gatorade in order to restore his energy. He insisted on his personal stash including hidden Gatorade bottles at home and the stadium.
Drinking Routine: 2 Liter Mountain Dew
Butler was well known for drinking a 2 liter of Mountain Dew per day. Since retiring from the NBA, he has gotten a handle on reducing his intake. Butler admits “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.”
John Daily Diet Coke
Drinking Routine: 26 Diet Cokes
The bad boy of golf always afforded himself indulgence. He followed no meal plans and claims that at one period he was addicted to Diet Coke. He drank about 26 cans of Diet Coke in a day. Now he prefers to consume chicken wings and large amounts of chocolate milk.
Drinking Routine: 7up & Orange Juice
This was a big source of carbohydrates for Chamberlain. He really believed in the power of orange juice. He claimed his magic elixir helped to keep him energized and helped replenish his carbohydrates. He would reportedly drink 3 to 4 a day.
Drinking Routine: 6 Cups of Coffee before games
The now retired ex Orlando Magic point guard used to go full energizer bunny in the locker room, routinely drinking 6 cups of coffee or more before he played.
Drinking Routine: 12 Pack Miller Light
One of the greatest hitters of all time was well known for his beer intake. Boggs loved to put them away when the team was flying or hanging out in his hotel room or even having a few in the locker room. Boggs ran off his beer of choice, Miller Light. He admitted to putting down at least a 12 pack per day to Its Always Sunny In Philadelphia actor and writer Charlie Day.
Drinking Routine: 100 Grams of Protein Worth of Bean Smoothies (10 Smoothies)
Carter is a 300 plus pound lineman in the NFL. Daily, he consumes 10,000 calories per day consisting of greens, rice, nuts, beans and quinoa. The most absurd part of his diet is the massive batch of bean smoothies he drinks throughout the day, 100 grams worth of protein.
Drinking Routine: 1 Chlorophyll Smoothie
Wade drinks a smoothie more fit for a super villain. A nutritionist suggested that he add amounts of chlorophyll to his diet, in order to properly refuel and reset his body after games. Wade now unwinds post game with your classic chlorophyll smoothie. He developed this plan after he hit his 30-year-old slump.
Drinking Routine: His own urine
Former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Lyoto Machida told Brazilian magazine Tatame "I drink my urine every morning like a natural medicine.” Machida started drinking his own urine at the advice of his father, who told MMA Fighting "it's like a vaccine" and "sometimes it's sweet, sometimes it's salty."
Ron Artest “Metta World Peace”
Drinking Routine: 5th of Hennessy
Several athletes have had problems with alcoholic beverages but few had been as candid as Ron Artest. He admitted to drinking Hennessy at the halftime of some Chicago Bulls games, as a rookie and 2nd year player. He also admitted to overcoming obstacles off the court during the same period.
Drinking Routine: 7.5 Shots of Patron per Day
The ex-Tennessee Titan running back loved tequila too much. He admitted his obsession led to high weight gain and his decline in production. When he decided to quit drinking, he shed 30-pounds over 6 months.
Rituals, Fads and Pre-Game Meals
Pre Game Meal: Popcorn
One close kept secret of Steph Curry is his pre game snack routine. Curry Admitted he “Gets off the bus, walk into the locker room, put my stuff down, go straight to the popcorn table,”. The Golden State Warrior star is a self-professed “popcorn addict” and considers it an essential part of his game-night experience. “If it’s really good, I’m eating it before the game, at halftime and after,” Curry said. Curry’s love of popcorn can be tied to his father Dell Curry, Del is another popcorn devotee and suspects that his eldest son inherited the addiction. Curry said, he never adds anything to the popcorn to change its appearance, taste or temperature. He also said he “can visualize where the popcorn is” in any NBA arena. “And then the experience comes right back,” Curry said. “It’s sick, bro. It’s a problem.” He proudly told the story of Miami Heat ball boys, assuring him that he would be “impressed by their efforts on the popcorn front”. Later that evening a table with popcorn bags lined up on wood planks under heat lamps was waiting for Curry.
Pre Game Meal: Anything in 3’s
During a January 2011 interview with the local ESPN radio affiliate, Bradford talked about his pre game routines that date back to college. The weirdest superstition is his compulsion to only eat things in 3’s, including after-dinner mints and pieces of fruit on game day.
Laffit Lincay Jr
Pre Game Meal: Half a Peanut
Jockey’s are known to have crazy pre race rituals but Lincay is the king. He was so serious about his craft, he would eat just half of a peanut for a meal. Keeping your meal or snack to half a peanut takes serious dedication. 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.
Pre Game Meal: 4 Hot Dogs w/ mustard & onions, Popcorn, Pizza, 1 Diet Coke
The Great One would eat 4 hot dogs which contained mustard and onions, he washed that down with Diet Coke. Occasionally he would include popcorn and pizza. Wayne Gretzky never changed his pre-game diet throughout his career.
Pre Game Meal: 4 Eggo Waffles w/ Peanut Butter and Honey
Appearing on Jimmy Kimmel Live in January 2013, The Philadelphia Phillies Bryce Harper revealed a pre-game obsession with Eggo waffles. Harper admitted “It has to be Eggo before the game. I mean, it’s really weird. PB and honey, I mean, I’m really superstitious.” Harper also admits to taking as many as 7 showers on game day, another strange superstition.
Pre Game Meal: Chicken
While playing in the minor leagues, Wade Boggs found that his best games came after he ate a meal with chicken. "I noticed that I always seemed to hit best after chicken," Boggs told legendary baseball writer Peter Gammons. "So I started having Debbie (his wife) fix it every day.” That is how Boggs became known as the “chicken man”. Check out some of his tips on fixing chicken here.
Metta World Peace
Pre Game Meal: Beans
In 2013, NBA enigma Metta World Peace admitted in a New York Post interview was entertaining and revealing.When asked what his favorite meal was, he responded with: “Beans.” Most people wouldn’t think that beans alone constitute a meal, however Metta World Peace isn’t most people.
Most NBA Players
Pre Game Meal: Peanut Butter & Jelly Sandwiches
Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are the go-to snack for several NBA players. NBA players who obsessively gobbled down PB & J during their careers include Kevin Garnett, Carmelo Anthony, Russell Westbrook, Paul Pierce, Kevin Durant, Damian Lillard, Brandon Ingram and many more. If you check out the post game spreads for many NBA teams, PB & J sandwiches are included. The Lakers have theirs catered by Whole Foods, the San Antonio Spurs have theirs catered by HEB Central Market which they have a partnership with in San Antonio. You go up to Portland: Half of their peanut butter and jelly sandwich order is toasted because the star player Damian Lillard likes them that way. Within the league, a number of players are known for their preferences. "Russell Westbrook likes to butter the inside of the bread and then put peanut butter on it after it's toasted," Holmes relays. Carmelo Anthony likes his on a cinnamon raisin bagel. Kevin Durant admitted "Actually, PB&J is still my go-to snack.” As a team the Golden State Warriors may be the king of the PB & J. They even fired their nutritionist for trying to ban the team favorite.
Pre Game Meal: 20 Almonds
The Olympic sprinter has a very precise diet plan. Before any race or training session, he eats only 20 almonds. It may seem a little extreme, but 20 almonds are apparently the perfect amount to meet his physical needs as per his nutritionist.
Pre Game Meal: Raw Egg Protein Shake
As seen in the movie Rocky, raw eggs were thought to give extra protein to training boxers. The old school practice turned out to be more myth than fact, but that didn’t stop people from the tradition. Mr. Universe himself advocated for a thermos of raw eggs and heavy cream to aid in weight gain.
Pre Game Meal: 3-4 Cookies n Cream Hershey’s, Lifesavers, Peach Rings, Twizzlers, Skittles
Odom’s once 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 honor the Lakers’ victory and Odom’s name was featured on the base. "Hershey's white chocolate cookies and cream, I go through like four or five packs of those a day.” "I will sometimes wake up at like 3 or 4 in the morning and I'll just have candy around my bed, maybe some Starbursts or Skittles, and I'll just reach over, eat it, and go back to sleep.” Odom's assistant makes weekly runs to the grocery store to satisfy his clients candy needs, he usually spends around $80 on candy each time he goes.
Snack Choice: Wedding Cakes & Ice Cream
The NBA’s original sweet tooth may have been Larry Joe Bird, he once claimed to down ‘ten gallons of ice cream and seven wedding’ cakes’ while recovering from injury. He had put on a few pounds when he was out of action, but he wasn't sure how many. "I was so bored, I'd set around the house, drive my wife crazy, and eat and eat. In two and a half weeks I was off I ate ten gallons of ice cream and seven wedding' cakes. Why them? I ate wedding' cakes 'cause you knew they was gonna be good. I mean, who would [eff] up a wedding' cake?” Bird choice of Wedding Cakes was pure genius.
The McDonald's Diet
McDonald's Order: Fillet O’ Fish, French Fry and Diet Coke
Barkley admitted that he routinely ate at McDonald's before playing in games. The round mound of rebound would order a Fillet O’Fish or cheeseburger with french fry and diet coke.
Breakfast: Eggs, Sausage, Biscuits, McMuffins, 3 Hash Browns, Fruit Salad
Lunch: 2 Chicken Nuggets, a Double Cheeseburger, and a Big Mac."
Dinner: 2 Chicken Nuggets, French Fries and 2-3 Double Cheeseburgers
Lochte won 4 medals while eating McDonald's for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Lochte reportedly binged McDonald's while competing in the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
McDonald's Order: Chicken Nuggets, French Fries, Apple Pie
Bolt thrived on McDonald's Chicken Nuggets at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, earning himself 3 Gold Metals. According to Huffington Post, Bolt consumed nuggets and fries for breakfast, lunch and dinner, with an apple pie for a snack. When he’s at home he keeps his diet more traditional. He maintains a diet made up of 60% protein, 30% carbs, and 10% fat, and often eats ackee and saltfish with dumplings, cooked banana, or sweet potato for breakfast. Lunch is often made up of pasta with chicken, while dinner tends to be rice with peas and pork.
McDonald's Order: 2 Cheeseburgers, Large Fry, Coke
Barnes relied on McDonald's for most of his pre game meals during his playing career. The former ABA star had a habit of being late to games, often times showing up with a greasy bag of McDonald's.
McDonald's Order: Chicken Nuggets or Big Mac, Large Fry, Coke
Johnson has an epic love affair with McDonald's. He apparently survives on just McDonald's and even tried working there for a day. It’s what keeps him going and he has admitted in the past that he survives on it.
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