Michael Phelps’ 10,000 Calories Diet Not Recommended by Nutritionists for Non-Athletes

Published 07/01/2022, 12:00 PM EDT

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Michael Phelps, dubbed the ‘Baltimore Bullet’, made Olympic history when he won 8 gold medals in the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympic Games. He overthrew Mark Spitz’s 1972 record of seven golds at a single Olympic edition. Now, he is the most decorated olympian of all time with 28 medals in his tally, 23 of which are gold.

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But what is it that makes Michael Phelps such a great athlete? What is his secret to success? Around his Beijing victory, many suspected the answer may lie in his diet. But if you ask nutritionists, it’s not a meal for the common man.

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Michael Phelps’ legendary 10,000-calorie diet

That’s right, to keep his body in shape for the rigorous training, Michael Phelps used to consume 10,000 calories a day, every day. “Eat, sleep and swim, that’s all I can do,” said the US swimmer, after winning his 11th Olympic gold. Here’s a quick run-down of his diet, according to BBC:

  • Breakfast: Three fried-egg sandwiches; cheese; tomatoes; lettuce; fried onions; mayonnaise; three chocolate-chip pancakes; five-egg omelet; three sugar-coated slices of French toast; a bowl of grits; two cups of coffee
  • Lunch: Half-kilogram (one pound) of enriched pasta; two large ham and cheese sandwiches with mayonnaise on white bread; energy drinks
  • Dinner: Half-kilogram of pasta, with carbonara sauce; large pizza; energy drinks

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But nutritionists would advise against following in his footsteps for your daily diet. “Health-wise, if he were eating like this long-term, he’d probably be having to see a cardiologist regularly,” Barbara Lewin, a nutritionist who worked with international athletes, told BBC.

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While it certainly doesn’t translate well for the average person, the diet worked for Phelps. In fact, it contributed well to keep him in top shape. “Nine out of 10 times, the reason an athlete doesn’t reach their personal best is because they’re not getting enough carbohydrates and that’s what your muscles need for food,” Lewin continued.

But what does Phelps eat now post-retirement? 

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Now that the retired swimming legend isn’t training rigorously day in and day out, he is no longer on his 10,000-calorie diet. Though, figuring out what works for him when he’s not slaving away in the pool for 5 hours every day took some time. As a father of three, Michael Phelps now has other responsibilities.

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In an interview with GQ, Phelps revealed his diet now contains a lot more veggies. From smoothies with spinach, almond milk, cacao nibs, and figs in breakfast to incorporating salads every night at family meals. The champion’s diet has turned around.

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“For 25 years, eating was a part of my job, it was a part of my profession. Because of that, I have a deep understanding of what my body needs,” he told GQ. Now that he is no longer ploughing food into his body at his trainer’s command, his mother’s voice guides him to his greens and veggies.

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Written by:

Mansi Jain

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One take at a time

Mansi Jain is a US Sports author for EssentiallySports. She has a Bachelor's degree in Multimedia and Mass Communication from the University of Delhi and has also previously interned for HT Media. She is always one mention of Yuzuru Hanyu away from delivering an hour-long speech about the athlete's legacy.
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Edited by:

Manaal Siddiqui

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