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Here’s What All Those Twinkies, Skittles and Cans of Mountain Dew Are Doing to Athletes’ Bodies

Last week, star Chicago White Sox prospect Yoan Moncada told ESPN that he sometimes eats 85 Twinkies in a week. That is a shitload of Twinkies — roughly 12 a day, or one per hour for 12 hours. God help his digestive system, which must be a mess of soft exterior and creamy interior. Moncada, however, isn’t the only athlete to have a go-big-or-go-home relationship with junk food. LeBron James loves Fruity Pebbles so much that Nike designed a shoe to match, and most Olympic athletes (including Usain Bolt) are obsessed with McDonald’s. But this can’t be what makes them great, right? If anything, it would seem to be completely detrimental to performing incredible feats of athleticism. To find out, we asked nutritionist David A. Wiss to explain what all that junk food does to the seemingly superhuman bodies (and stomachs) of six star athletes with a legendary sweet tooth.

Athlete: Yoan Moncada
Feat of Junk Foodness: 85 Twinkies in a week
Calories Per Twinkie: 135
Total Number of Calories Consumed: 11,475
What All Those Twinkies Do to The Body: “Of the 37 ingredients in a Twinkie, there are some that can disrupt the gut microbiome,” says Wiss. “So this may eventually lead to gut issues because one’s health is the result of a symbiotic relationship with 100 trillion bacteria.”

Athlete: Caron Butler
Feat of Junk Foodness: Six 12-oz. cans of Mountain Dew daily
Calories Per Can: 170
Total Number of Calories Consumed: 2,040
What All That Mountain Dew Does to the Body: “This is enough caffeine to meet the criteria for caffeine dependence and possible toxicity,” explains Wiss.

Athlete: Justin Verlander
Feat of Junk Foodness: 3 crunchy Taco Supremes, 1 Cheesy Gordita Crunch, 1 Mexican pizza in one sitting
Calories per Crunchy Taco Supreme: 190
Calories per Cheesy Gordita Crunch: 500
Calories per Mexican Pizza: 550
Total Number of Calories Consumed: 1,240
What All That Taco Bell Does to the Body: “This is a classic example of binge eating,” says Wiss. We can relate; we did virtually the same thing after tasting Taco Bell’s new healthy options, which while slightly better for you, only left us wanting the real thing, an urge we gave into a few weeks later. Our Verlander-esque menu: 1 Naked Chicken Chalupa, 1 Cheesy Gordita Crunch and ½ Fiesta Taco Salad, all of which added up to a whopping 1,360 calories, 81 grams of fat, 2,770 milligrams of sodium and an immeasurable amount of bewilderment from Wiss. He explained the profound disappointment (shame?) we felt afterward thusly: “The despondency is likely related to having ingested two meals’ worth of calories and a day’s worth of sodium.”

Athlete: Dwight Howard
Feat of Junk Foodness: 24 candy bars in a day
Calories Per Candy Bar: Roughly 210
Total Number of Calories Consumed: Roughly 5,040
What All Those Candy Bars Do to the Body: “Twenty-four candy bars in one day resembles a full-blown food binge,” says Wiss. “Candy bars are loaded with macronutrients (carbohydrates and fat) and are practically void of micronutrients (vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients). These foods are considered energy dense (calories) but not nutrient dense (nutrition). This approach to eating can lend itself to poor micronutrient intake which can impact athletic performance.”

Athlete: Usain Bolt
Feat of Junk Foodness: 100 Chicken McNuggets in a day
Calories per Chicken McNugget: 48.25
Total Number of Calories Consumed: 4,825
What All Those McNuggets Do to the Body: “Similar to all those Twinkies,” Wiss says, “the additional ingredients in the McNuggets can create disturbances in gut flora.”

Athlete: Derrick Rose
Feat of Junk Foodness: 2 pounds of skittles in a day
Calories per Pound of Skittles: 1,708
Total Number of Calories Consumed: 3,416
What All Those Skittles Do to the Body: “Rose should get his blood values evaluated for abnormal glucose values,” Wiss warns. “I suspect his Hemoglobin-A1c levels are higher than normal, which could lead to diabetes.”