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What do Olympians eat? 5 crazy training diets

Back in 2008, during the Beijing Olympics, we were regaled with stories about the monstrous 12,000 calorie daily diet that American swimming sensation Michael Phelps consumed while gearing up for the Games. Alas, Phelps revealed last month his diet has never been that gargantuan. “I never ate that much,” he said. “It’s all a myth. I’ve never eaten that many calories.” Although what the Olympic gold record-holder actually eats might remain a mystery, athletes around the world are trying out different meal plans that they believe will help propel them to competitive stardom this summer in London. Here’s a look at five of the strangest (and in some cases, frightening) diets.

1. The insanely high-calorie diet

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MOHAMMAD KHURSHEED/CSM/Landov

While nobody actually takes in 12,000 calories a day, some athletes come awfully close. Phelps’s swimming teammate Ryan Lochte says he relies mostly on McDonald’s for his meals, translating to between 8,000 and 12,000 calories. Before you freak out, consider that Lochte’s diet also “includes salad and fruit.” Canada’s Dylan Armstrong, a shot putter, requires between 6,500 and 9,000 calories per day. “But it’s easy to eat a lot of calories,” he told the National Post earlier this month. “I like a lot of salmon. Obviously, beef and chicken. I’m on a high-protein, low-carb diet. I’ll eat five or six times a day.”

2. The oddly specific diet

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NIKLAS LARSSON/EPA/Landov

For American sprinter Tyson Gay to keep up with sprinting champion Usain Bolt this summer, he’ll need to be in the best shape of his life. He’s been working with EAS Sports Nutrition to design his perfect training regimen. In addition to taking some legal supplements, Gay subscribes to a tailor-made diet provided by a nutritionist who strictly monitors his intake. “I eat 230 grams of protein daily, 308 grams of carbohydrates, maybe 70 grams of fat,” he told AskMen this spring. To achieve that, Gay had to adjust to eating six meals a day, consisting of everything from raisins and yogurt to ground turkey and fish. “It’s going to be a diet plan to really set me up to be the best I can be,” he said.

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