Aug. 13, 2008 -- His body may resemble the trim, athletic figure of
Michelangelo's statue of David, but the diet of Michael Phelps sure
doesn't sound like the stuff of champions.
The U.S. Olympic swimmer told ESPN that he eats roughly 8,000-10,000
calories a day, including "lots of pizza and pasta." In addition to
stuffing down carbs, he's said that he routinely eats foods like fried egg
How to Get an Olympic Body
It takes much more than eating lots of pizza and pasta to perform at the level
of an Olympic champion. Discover the training and diet secrets of Michael
Phelps and other U.S. Olympic athletes in this WebMD slideshow.
So exactly how do all those calories help fuel the most decorated Olympic
athlete in history? Here are some questions and answers about the Michael
How can Michael Phelps eat 10,000 calories a day and still be so lean?
There is no doubt he packs away a ton of food, but it is unlikely that he
actually eats that many calories a day, an expert believes. University of
Pittsburgh Director of Sports Nutrition Leslie Bonci, MPH, RD, says eating
10,000 calories a day is almost impossible. "To consume 10,000 calories a
day, he would need to be eating all day long."
Penn State University director of sports nutrition, Kristine Clark, PhD, RD,
agrees. "In the course of a day there are only so many hours to eat,
digest, rest, and train [reports suggest he trains six hours a day] and it is
almost impossible to consume 10,000 calories of whole foods." She
says most athletes are stuffed after consuming a meal of 1,500 calories of
Bonci estimates that to support his 6-foot-4-inch, approximately 190-pound
frame, Phelps' rigorous training regime requires roughly 1,000 calories per
hour while he is racing or training; she suggests he probably eats closer to
6,000 calories per day.
Clark suggests he is probably supplementing his meals with specially
formulated energy drinks that are concentrated in calories, including
easy-to-absorb fats (which contain 2.5 times more calories than carbs or
protein) to reach higher calorie levels closer to 8,000 per day.
What does Michael Phelps eat for breakfast?
NBC commentator Bob Costas rattled off Phelps' breakfast menu, which includes
three sandwiches of fried eggs, cheese, lettuce, tomato, fried onions,
mayonnaise, an omelet, a bowl of grits, three slices of French toast with
powdered sugar, and three chocolate-chip pancakes.
Without knowing the exact details of the portions, recipes, and ingredients, this
meal probably contains roughly 3,000 calories, about half from carbohydrates, a
little less than half from fat, and 15% from protein. It's not a bad
distribution of major nutrients for competition, according to dietary
recommendations, assuming the breads are whole grain, the cheese is low fat,
and the fats used to fry the eggs are healthy. The addition of fruit would
improve the nutritional profile of this meal, Bonci says.