Junkfood Science: An interesting observation - Olympic diet

August 13, 2008

An interesting observation - Olympic diet

Michael Phelps has been amazing to watch. He’s already shattered five world records and won the most gold medals in modern Olympic history.

No one could argue that he is not physically fit. And he’s certainly not what anyone would call fat. In fact, he’s said he has always had trouble keeping weight on. Yet, he is being criticized for not eating the healthiest diet and accused that his physical feats are being achieved “in spite of eating a poor quality diet.”

Everyone has a different food ideology of what foods are healthy and will make bodies perform at peak levels. The belief is that elite athletes must be paying close attention to what goes into their bodies and health food is vital. So, everyone has been eager to learn Phelp’s secret. Does he eat low-fat, vegetarian, high-fiber, low-carb, high-carb, granola and special supplements, or what?

As Serious Eats aptly reports, Phelps is a serious eater. He eats... everything and tries to eat as many calories as he can get his hands on everyday.

[O]n Monday night NBC's Bob Costas reported a tidbit of jaw-dropping info: Michael Phelps recommended calorie intake is 8,000 to 10,000 calories. Costas read Phelps' typical breakfast order from Pete's Grille in Baltimore, Maryland, as is recounted in Phelps' autobiography Beneath the Surface:

Start with three [white bread] sandwiches of fried eggs, cheese, lettuce, tomato, fried onions, and mayonnaise; add one omelet, a bowl of grits, and three slices of French toast with powdered sugar; then wash down with three chocolate chip pancakes.

According to his autobiography, growing up, lunch also consisted of 1 pound of pasta, 2 large ham and cheese sandwiches with mayo and 1,000 calories of energy drinks. Dinner’s another pound of pasta and a whole pizza and 1,000 calories more in energy drinks. No food hang-ups with him. He gets it. Food is fuel, not endowed with magical or evil effects.

When IGN Sports interviewed him in 2005:

Sports: What about your diet? Are you always eating super healthy?

Michael Phelps: I eat pretty much whatever I want. I don't have a strict diet. It's all about cramming in as many calories into my system as I possibly can. To be honest with you, I have a tough time keeping weight on.

IGN Sports: What about fast food?

Michael Phelps: Bring it on!

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