Looking at the diets of Olympic athletes is almost enough to make an exercise-phobe start working out for six hours a day, just to get a feel for what it might be like to be a Hobbit. Seriously—that is how Olympians eat. Like Hobbits. First and second breakfasts, elevensies. If it wasn’t for the ruthless training and looming threat of sports injuries (and the lack of magic healing powers), their lives would be pure fantasy.
According to this week’s New York Times story on athletes’ diets, “2 hours biking including 30 minutes at race pace with stints above race pace” earns you three slices of pizza, a pint of Ben & Jerry’s and two beers, i.e. what I would eat every single weeknight if I could burn more than 1,800 calories a day blogging.
Unlike bloggers, athletes in training can burn through 4,000 to 6,000 a day. Michael Phelps famously eats 4,000 calories just for breakfast. For an idea of what that means, note the Big Country Breakfast from IHOP is only 1790 cals:
Dr. Michael Joyner, a researcher at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN, who conducts studies of endurance athletes told the New York Times: “In your super-high-calorie-burning sports, like distance running, cycling or the triathlon, elite athletes can burn 15 or 20 calories a minute.” I don’t know how many calories bloggers burn in a minute, but my guess would be <1.