Stars such as Jessica Ennis will have put in an unbelievable 10,000 hours of blood, sweat and tears in the four years leading up to the Games, it is claimed.
The average elite British athlete will have been training six hours a day, six days a week, 12 months a year.
More than 100 elite athletes from Olympic and Paralympic summer sports took part in the study which unearthed the commitment, resources and investment needed to compete on the highest stage.
"To be the best and stay at the top of your sport takes an incredible amount of effort and dedication," said Ennis.
"It's amazing to think that by London 2012 I will have spent 10,000 hours preparing for that moment.
"All the hard work will be worth it, though, to simply compete in front of a home crowd - and to win a medal would just be a dream come true."
Of the athletes surveyed, 87 per cent said they would have to seek paid employment if they did not have support from The National Lottery, which would have a huge impact on their training.
The average athlete:
Consumes more than 1.1 million calories per year, equivalent to eating three Christmas dinners a day
Commits six hours a day, six days a week to training and competitions
Has been working towards their Olympic or Paralympic goal for 11 years
Seriously took up their sport at the age of 14 and now competes in seven international competitions per year
An average elite male canoeist, such as World Champion Ed McKeever, lifts a total of 1,200 tonnes a month - the equivalent of six blue whales - during their strict gym workouts.
An elite swimmer, such as Olympic silver medallist Joanne Jackson and European and Commonwealth champion Fran Halsall (pictured), swims more than 1,860 miles a year - further than the distance from Beijing to London over four years.
The GB Wheelchair Basketball team on average goes through 100 tyres a year for its specially designed wheelchairs
Peter Keen, director of performance at UK Sport, said the support and preparation that goes into getting to an Olympic or Paralympic Games is substantial.
"I'm sure people will be surprised by the results of this survey at exactly how much time, dedication and commitment it takes an aspiring athlete to achieve their Olympic and Paralympic goals," he said.
"The sporting landscape in the UK has changed dramatically since the introduction of National Lottery funding and, through hard work from the athletes and their support teams, we are seeing tremendous results."
The National Lottery has been funding British Olympic and Paralympic athletes through UK Sport since 1997 and since then 438 Olympic and Paralympic medals have been won.
The National Lottery is investing up to £2.2 billion ($3.5 billion) towards the infrastructure and venues of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, as well as supporting around 1,400 elite athletes on their journey to London 2012 and beyond.