Olympic athlete diets may vary based on factors such as individual preference, sport, gender and nationality, but in general, these elite athletes tend to eat much more than the average person. For example, American swimmer Michael Phelps reportedly ate as many as 12,000 calories a day while competing in the 2008 Olympic Games. Because athletes require carbohydrates and fat, they may consume food that seems unhealthy in extreme amounts, such as pounds of pasta with oil or entire pints of ice cream in one sitting.
Part of the reason athletes such as Phelps eat so much is that they burn thousands of calories a day with their workouts alone, and they must eat back what they lose in order to have the energy to continue performing at the same level. What they eat in order to refuel varies by athlete. While some athletes will eat an entire pizza or a dozen eggs for a meal, the successful Jamaican sprinter Yohan Blake has reported eating 16 bananas a day, which equates to 1600 calories worth of banana. Olympic athletes may be seen snacking on seemingly strange foods, but there's usually a method to the madness. For example, some athletes might drink pickle juice because the brine's high sodium content can help stave off muscle cramps.