17 Professional Athletes With Weird Eating Habits

Unlike celebrities, professional athletes are decidedly not like us. Sure, technically, they're nothing more than flesh and blood just like everyone else. But the physical feats they're capable of performing are well beyond the corporeal comprehension of the average person. Frankly, professional athletes are like high-powered, well-built sports cars, while the rest of humanity functions as old beaters barely puttering along from point to point.

The drastic differences between the handful of truly elite professional athletes and the millions upon millions of wannabe dreamers are quite evident. But just as a luxury sports car may be constructed of higher-quality parts than the average vehicle (akin to a pro athlete's so-called God-given talent), it still needs the proper maintenance to maintain its peak performance — and fuel to keep it going. Food, of course, is fuel for the human body. And though you may assume every professional athlete follows a healthy, well-balanced diet, sometimes there are deviations from the rule.

Similar to celebrities with bizarre eating habits, many professionally-paid athletes indulge in some truly peculiar eating habits. You might be amazed at some of the dietary quirks of well-known pro athletes. These are some of the best-known professional athletes with the weirdest eating habits.

Wade Boggs earned his Chicken Man nickname

Even though Hall of Fame baseball player Wade Boggs has been retired for two decades, his so-boring-it's-weird devotion to chicken may be among the most well-known eating quirts of his career. According to the 12-time All Star, though, his habit of eating chicken before games developed out of necessity more than a love of the bird. In his early days as a minor leaguer, he turned to what was affordable and could provide fuel to a budding major leaguer (via Christian Science Monitor).

After he started his pre-game chicken consumption, Boggs soon noticed improved performance, leading to his full conversion into a so-called "chicketarian." The third baseman's poultry preference soon spurred widespread interest, with the Perdue company gifting him a six-month supply of chicken that he claimed took only a month to eat.

Boggs' took further advantage of his strange pre-game tradition in 1984. That year, the man released his very own cookbook, "Fowl Tips: My Favorite Chicken Recipes," cementing his place as baseball's "Chicken Man."

Wayne Gretzky devoured hot dogs and Diet Coke before games

Even among hockey legends, Wayne Gretzky is in a class of his own. Yet, it turns out that the greatest player in the history of the NHL followed a path paved by Babe Ruth when it came to athletic nutrition. Before each game, Gretzky would eat four hot dogs with mustard and onions, which he then polished off with Diet Coke, according to InsideHook.

The Diet Cokes provided a caffeinated pre-game boost to the man known simply as "The Great One." More specifically, after warming up, Gretzky would drink one Diet Coke, followed by water, Gatorade ... then another Diet Coke, as he wrote in his autobiography (via Hockey Beast).

Since his father instilled the importance of maintaining good nutrition to achieve peak athletic performance, as he said in a 2016 interview (via InsideHook), the fact that Gretzky's pre-game meal was akin to what a fan would eat in the stands is noteworthy. Then again, after his storied career, who can really question the benefit Gretzky found from hot dogs and Diet Coke?

Marshawn Lynch munched on Skittles on the sidelines

It's easy to understand why experts say you should avoid eating candy before an athletic event. After all, the initial sugar rush found from eating candy almost always leads to an intense, crashing downfall. However, maybe the notion that candy can't provide sustained energy only applies to athletes in human mode — not anyone operating in Beast Mode, like former NFL running back Marshawn Lynch. After all, Lynch's preferred in-game snack of Skittles never seemed to slow him down (via ESPN).

Something that first began in Pop Warner — when his mother provided the rainbow-tasting candies to him as "power pellets" during games — Lynch was often seen munching Skittles on the sideline during his career. Though the average person should indeed think twice about utilizing Skittles for an athletic boost, according to Penn State University, it's hard to deny it worked for the two-time All-Pro.

Naturally, Lynch inked an endorsement deal with Skittles in 2014, as per ESPN. That year, the candy company released a "Seattle Mix" with only blue and green candies in reference to the Skittles-obsessed Lynch (who was then a member of the Seattle Seahawks).

Tom Brady has a ridiculously strict diet

Tom Brady is a freak of nature. That's not an insult; there's just something truly preternatural about the seven-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback. Somehow, in 2022, Brady continues to defy all human logic by playing professional football well at age 45. The man's ability to defy nature isn't a result of his Gaston-esque chiseled jawline. Rather, much of his continued success results from the intense TB12 Method diet plan.

While the TB12 method (named for the man himself) is a genuine way of life for the future Hall of Fame quarterback, it's unlikely the average person could endure the rigors of his meal plan. The program includes a demanding hydration schedule that calls for drinking 20 ounces of water immediately upon waking. Then there's the 80/20 rule, where all meals must include 80% plant-based food and only 20% animal-derived products. As part of this, Brady noted that a seemingly bizarre dish of avocado ice cream is one of his favorite desserts, according to Boston.com.

Brady acknowledged his meal plan was pretty intense in his 2017 book, "The TB12 Method" (via Men's Health), but claimed that it would now be strange for him to follow any other diet. We guess that's why Tom Brady is still Tom Brady and the rest of us are, well, not.

Lamar Odom would eat candy for breakfast

In 2022, there may be just as many folks who know Lamar Odom from his Kardashian-adjacent personal life (and strife) as from his NBA playing days. But the former professional basketball player wouldn't have earned that pop culture spotlight without the platform of his athletic career. He wouldn't have had that career — or helped the Los Angeles Lakers win an NBA ring in 2009 — without consuming an absurd amount of candy, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune.

Odom's well-known, fairly weird affinity for sweets caused some to express public concern. This included famed physician Dr. Daniel Amen, who wrote a series of public letters imploring Odom to reconsider his candy habit in 2009 (via ABC News).

But Odom didn't seem fazed by any external chatter. After all, as he told the San Diego Tribune in 2009, he thought that he played just fine when he ate candy for breakfast during that year's playoffs. So, he saw no reason to stop.

Dwight Freeney had an incredibly disciplined eating regimen

To be honest, we were surprised at the fairly low number of professional athletes with weird healthy eating habits. But some athletes do go above and beyond. Former NFL pass-rushing great Dwight Freeney certainly fits that bill. After all, the man was so committed to his healthy diet that he'd bring his own food to restaurants during the season, then tell staff how to properly prepare it (via Sports Illustrated).

Freeney followed the Sami Mellman Dietary Progression during his career, a highly-regulated meal plan designed to maximize basic metabolism as his food coach, Leon Mellman, told Sports Illustrated in 2010. While the Sami diet is notoriously rigid, Freeney was more committed than most, telling SI that he'd avoid certain kinds of toothpaste for fear that some brands would contain unwanted calories.

Given his nutrition regulations, the 2022 Pro Football Hall of Fame nominee was a firm proponent of lean protein. But even his preferences there were out of the ordinary, as he was known to greatly enjoy bison steaks rather than chicken or shrimp (via Yahoo).

Caron Butler guzzled Mountain Dew at all hours

Nothing beats water when it comes to hydration, but Caron Butler must think water is for squares. That's because the former two-time NBA all-star didn't consume much of the liquid during his career. Instead, during his playing days, Butler was known to drink around two liters of Mountain Dew daily (via USA Today).

In all fairness to Butler, he was at least aware of the absurdity of his beverage habit, telling USA Today that he knew full well how much sugar was in the soda. Yet he admitted that it tasted so good that he simply couldn't help himself.

Even during his career, Butler recognized how poorly his weird preference reflected on him. In fact, during the 2004-05 season, he tried hiding his Mountain Dew habit from teammate Kobe Bryant, fearing he'd be accosted after Bryant had previously questioned his nutritional intake during a game (via Sports Illustrated).

Metta World Peace loved beans before games

It's unlikely you'll find an athlete with a more controversial career than former NBA player Metta World Peace. For one thing, the man was born Ron Artest before he officially changed his name in 2011 (via Washington Post). That came several years after the mercurial forward charged into the stands and sparked a brawl in Detroit in 2004. But for a man with such a bizarre track record, his preferred pre-game meal of cooked beans, as per Men's Journal, is so incredibly boring that, it's frankly weird.

While the notion of consuming beans before a physically-grueling activity would spell doom for most, World Peace found that he faced no such issues. While he didn't have any problems with excess bodily gas, he did gain a boost from what he called "nature's steroids," during an interview with ESPN in 2010 (via Seattle Times).

Even outside of gameday, it appears World Peace was a big-time bean fan. After all, when asked about his favorite food during an interview with New York Post in 2013, he simply said that it was beans.

Kevin Garnett started a pregame PB&J revolution

As the lynchpin of the 2008 NBA championship team, Kevin Garnett is held in high esteem by many Boston Celtics fans. Yet while some may have thought a man who played with ferocious intensity would be fueled by primitive, carnal meals, the truth is more surprising. Garnett wasn't following in the footsteps of Wade Boggs or Wayne Gretzky by eating meat before games. Instead, as former Celtic teammate Paul Pierce told Bleacher Report, Garnett chowed down on a peanut butter and jelly sandwich before every game.

Before Garnett, the idea of snacking on a classic PB&J wasn't widely utilized in the NBA. But Garnett pushed the PETA-approved pre-game meal on his Boston teammates. According to Pierce, every player got a pre-game PB&J for a time.

The trend didn't stop in Boston, either. In fact, according to ESPN, Garnett's peanut butter and jelly routine — which didn't begin until partway through his first Celtics season in 2008 — became commonplace throughout the NBA as of 2017.

Bryce Harper can't leggo his Eggo

When something works, professional athletes tend to stick with it. No ritual or routine is too small, and no superstition is too unusual for the professional athlete desperate for any possible edge, whether or not there's any real logic behind it. MLB player Bryce Harper certainly belongs in this category, as he admitted that he was seriously superstitious during a 2013 appearance on "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" (via Washington Post). That includes his preferred pre-game meal, which consists of peanut butter, honey, and Eggo waffles.

By Harper's admission, the fact he requires Eggo waffles, in particular, is indeed out of the ordinary. Yet Harper's very public admiration for the brand doesn't seem to have resulted in any sort of endorsement deal, at least not as of 2022. We still don't think that the seven-time All-Star is likely to amend his well-established meal preference any time soon.

Laffit Pincay Jr. consumed fewer daily calories than the average toddler

We've covered several athletes on this list who exhibited near superhuman ability for disciplined eating. But then there's all-time great jockey, Laffit Pincay Jr. While many professional athletes astutely watch what they eat, none holds a candle to Pincay, who allowed himself a maximum of 750 calories per day to maintain his 117-pound racing weight (via Los Angeles Times).

Considering that's roughly half the daily intake required for a toddler (via WebMD), the fact that Pincay survived on no more than 750 calories is befuddling. But his diet was simply part of the sacrifice he needed to make to become the second-winningest jockey of all time. His diet was so strict that he wouldn't even eat baked goods made by his wife, instead opting to chew bites and then spit them out, as he told the Los Angeles Times.

It went so far that Pincay consumed just a single peanut during a six-hour flight. More specifically he ate one half of the peanut at the start of his flight, then saved the other half for the very end, according to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

Chad Johnson owes his NFL success to McDonald's

One of the more surprising trends we discovered with professional athletes and their eating habits is how many can perform at an insanely high level despite inhaling a ghastly amount of junk food. No shortage of pro athletes eat what they want, when they want. A leading offender was former NFL wide receiver Chad Johnson. The man formerly (and briefly) known as Chad Ochocinco wasn't focused on protein shakes or fruit and vegetable consumption during his career. Instead, he was a frequent visitor to McDonald's (via New York Post).

Johnson's not-so-secret obsession with McDonald's isn't entirely weird, considering the ubiquity of the golden arches. But his claim to Sports Illustrated in 2021 (via Twitter) that he played for over a decade and remained injury-free because of McDonald's is an undeniably odd belief, for a professional athlete or anyone else.

Sam Bradford ate everything in threes before games

Athletes are often seriously superstitious. Former NFL quarterback and number-one overall NFL draft pick in 2010 Sam Bradford is no exception. As Bradford told ESPN Radio (via Yahoo), what he ate before games didn't necessarily matter as long as he was served in threes.

Bradford identified himself as a lover of routine who stuck to the rule of three during all of his pre-game meals. The triplicate tradition traced back to high school for Bradford, where, on one occasion, he even insisted that a waitress bring him three peppermints after he finished eating.

While we may raise an eyebrow at Bradford's pre-game quirk, it's not that different from other unusual athletic superstitions. Compared to playoff beards invading NHL arenas or Serena Williams' supposed insistence on wearing the same socks throughout a single tournament without washing them (via New York Times), Bradford's preferences appear to be more or less the norm.

Tim Lincecum demolished double cheeseburgers from In-N-Out to try bulking up

When you look at Tim Lincecum at the height of his career as a pitcher (via MLB), you might conclude the man subsisted on wheatgrass shots and soybeans. But what Lincecum ate during the offseason may surprise you, as his favorite meal was three double-doubles, two sides of fries, and a milkshake from In-N-Out, according to ESPN.

Now, that 3100-calorie feast would likely lead someone with a normal metabolism to break the scale. But for the two-time Cy Young award-winner, it was more difficult for him to gain weight. While some folks who are struggling with obesity may scream "cry me a river!", we can't fault Lincecum for the body he was born with.

Frankly, it's hard to conceive how someone with a lithe frame like Lincecum could throw a baseball the way he could. While it's unclear how he remained thin after such a weirdly gluttonous In-N-Out order, the rationale behind his "The Freak" nickname is crystal clear.

Babe Ruth had a legendary appetite

A common refrain heard from older baseball fans was that Babe Ruth hit his 714 career home runs fueled by nothing more than hot dogs and beer. While that oversimplification of Ruth's professional exploits conveniently overlooks the fact that Ruth's entire career took place before Jackie Robinson desegregated Major League Baseball, the legend of the Great Bambino's diet remains fairly accurate.

According to "The Life That Ruth Built," (via Long Island Weekly), the man himself was well aware of his reputation as a voracious eater. Ruth even made a point of pigging out around newcomers, under the assumption that he ought to put on a show.

The man did truly love his hot dogs, at least according to some of the many stories surrounding his weird eating habits. On one occasion, according to the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council, Ruth is believed to have devoured an astonishing 12 hot dogs and eight sodas, all in between the games of a doubleheader.

Lyoto Machida drank a daily glass of his own urine

The old saying tells us an apple a day keeps the doctor away. But what about drinking a glass of urine every morning? Well, it just may elevate a person to a UFC championship. At least, that's what MMA fighter Lyoto Machida would have you believe, given that he drank his liquid waste every day, as per CBS News.

During an interview with MMA Fighting in 2010, Mochida's father, Yoshizo, discussed the urine-specific aspect of both his and his MMA fighter son's morning routine. Yoshizo Mochida even provided and chugged a cup of said urine during the interview.

If you're unsure whether or not the Mochida family's urine habit works, you're not alone. While drinking a cup of your urine isn't likely to kill you, according to Healthline, the risks of consuming it far outweigh any alleged (and unfounded) claims to the contrary.

The Rock eats enough each day to sustain several people

Do you smell what The Rock is cooking? You might be, but the odds you'll be able to join the clean plate club after a day of meals with the pro-wrestler-turned-action-star are slim to none. Frankly, it's not that Dwayne Johnson consumes unappetizing, bland food by any means. It's that maintaining a body like his requires an astounding 6,000 to 8,000 calories a day (via Men's Health).

As Johnson told Delish, on an average day he'll eat five or six meals, which tend to consist of an unreal amount of protein and a well-planned balance of various nutritionally-dense foods. But the athletic actor's life isn't devoid of deliciousness. His cheat day meals have become nearly as legendary as his mind-bogglingly strict regular diet. Whether he's demolishing a tall stack of pancakes or a pair of bacon cheeseburgers, Johnson could be seen as an odd but compelling poster boy for moderation.