Some Olympic athletes maintain their prime physical condition by ... eating an entire cheese pizza and a full pint of Ben & Jerry's? Believe it. The New York Times takes a look at the outsize dietary needs of top athletes, who, as one doctor explains, can burn as many as 20 calories a minute. That means a fairly typical five-hour daily workout churns through 6,000 calories, which have to be replaced in order for the runner/cyclist/triathlete/etc. to get up and do it all over again the next day.
So what kind of dishes might they eat? Well, the aforementioned pizza and ice cream (calorie total: 3,000), plus a dozen eggs and a pound of pasta. Oh, and beer. Amazingly, some even lose weight on such a diet when they're training their hardest. It's challenging, explains the doctor, to get athletes to avoid processed junk food in their quest for calories: "You can only eat so much oatmeal and tofu." (The Times notes that a serving of each of those contains less than 200 calories.) Challenge No. 2: Getting them to eat at all sometimes. "They'd rather nap," says a dietitian who works with Olympians.