Being a modern sportsperson is a finely balanced art. Where once, champion athletes might have been able to get away with a more indulgent approach to eating and drinking, today’s professionals are expected to embody discipline and focus. People like Babe Ruth and George Best probably wouldn’t get a look in. Everything, from calories to mealtimes is strictly controlled and incredibly boring.
For many of the world’s top sporting performers, these sacrifices are worth it, just so that they can one day stand on a podium or raise a trophy. Others, however, have an altogether different attitude. Not for them the Spartan regime of endless boiled chicken breasts and pasta. For a few exceptional individuals, enjoying their food is just as important as training on the path to glory. It might not make much scientific sense, but sometimes you’ve just gotta sit back and admire. These are 7 famous athletes who absolutely adore fast food.
1. Michael Phelps
He might be famous for being more fish than human, but the most successful swimmer of all time apparently owes a good chunk of his achievements to junk food, rather than gills. When he was at the peak of his powers, the 23-time Olympic gold medalist was scarfing down 12,000 calories a day, including personal favourites pizza, chips and Sour Patch Kids.
2. George St Pierre
If you’ve ever wondered just what makes UFC fighters so angry, the answer might lie in the over indulgent attitude towards fast food. The 37-year old Canadian mixed martial artist is not only a powerhouse in the ring, but apparently has a serious predilection for McDonald’s, and regularly requests French fries, cheeseburgers and McNuggets in the aftermath of a fight.
3. Nemanja Vidic
An absolute colossus at the heart of Manchester United’s all-conquering defence during the glory years of the Sir Alex Ferguson era, Vidic was as ferocious a centre-back as you’re ever likely to see. You might expect a man of his stature to take his diet as seriously as he took fouling Fernando Torres. However, his time in Manchester was actually marked by his fondness for Great Britain’s ultimate comfort food - fish and chips.
4. Ryan Lochte
Michael Phelps isn’t the only swimmer to have splashed himself to glory fuelled by something deep-fried. In the Beijing Olympics in 2008, Ryan Lochte allegedly ate almost every meal in a local McDonald’s, revelling in a diet of burgers and fries. What’s even more amazing is that he actually pipped Phelps to the 200m backstroke gold medal.
5. Floyd Mayweather Jr.
When you have as much money as the undefeated Floyd “Money” Mayweather, you’d the first thing you would spend it on would be some top notch grub. Despite his almost unfathomable wealth, Mayweather claims that his favourite foods consist of, in no particular order, hot dogs, candy, Burger King fries, McDonald’s, Pop Tarts and soda.
6. Phil Mickelson
While golf might not necessarily be as demanding as other more explosive pursuits, there is still an expectation of relative physical health. This makes five-time major winner Phil Mickleson’s fondness for In-and-Out Burger all the more unusual. In an interview with Golf Digest, the former world-number-2 revealed that he would have a franchise installed in his back garden if he could.
7. Usain Bolt
Some athletes fast food habits are surprising. Others are legendary. Watching the greatest sprinter of all time set his first world record at the age of 21 at the Bird’s Nest stadium in Beijing was extraordinary. Learning that he’d done it on a daily diet of chicken McNuggets was the icing on the cake.
Obviously, if you aren’t training for a serious sporting occasion, fast food is not the sort of thing you should be eating every single day. But it’s important to remember that it isn’t the demon it is sometimes portrayed as. If you can win a gold medal on a McDonald’s diet, it probably isn’t the end of the world if you treat yourself every now and then.