Michael Phelps’ diet is the stuff of legend.
The most successful Olympian of all time says he doesn’t eat the crazy amount that he reportedly did as a 23-year-old before the 2008 Beijing Olympics. But even though the swimmer now claims “I don’t eat many calories a day,” he’s still almost certainly downing an amount of food that would have most of the rest of us running to the store for new pants.
Before the Beijing Games, Phelps said he was chowing down on an insane 12,000 calories a day, or 4,000 calories per meal. He’d start off with egg sandwiches loaded up with all the fixings, ranging from cheese to fried onions to mayo. After that, he’d go for chocolate-chip pancakes, French Toast, grits, and a five-egg omelet (gotta get that protein). Lunch would include a couple ham and cheese sandwiches, energy drinks, and a pound of pasta to top it off. For dinner, he’d down a whole pizza. And yet another pound of pasta.
Remarkably, he thrived on the regimen, scoring an all-time record of eight gold medals. That achievement topped his already insanely impressive six golds and two bronzes from 2004.
By 2012 though, his meal plan had calmed down a bit, as he told Men’s Health at the time.
As you can see in the graphic below, he’d still consume a ton of calories — that dinner was often two plate loads — but he’d still drastically cut back from that 2008 peak:
And on this diet, he still took home a crazy amount of medals: four golds, two silvers, a feat that made him the most decorated Olympian ever.
In a sense, Phelps’ insane diet has never been all that surprising, since swimmers burn crazy numbers of calories as they log hour after hour in the pool. In 2008, he recently explained in a Facebook video, he was training at least five hours a day, six days a week.
What Phelps is eating now
Now he’s “down” to a two-to-four hour a day training schedule. And while he didn’t give an exact rundown in the video, it sounds like he’s still enjoying a diet quite similar to his 2012 intake.
He’s a fan of Mexican food, and also loves to grill: hamburgers, hot dogs, steak, and lots and lots of grilled chicken.
Basically, it sounds like Phelps has upped his protein intake and isn’t consuming quite the same number of carbs. But that doesn’t mean he’s gone low carb or anything. After he won yet another gold medal on Sunday for his part in the men’s 4×100 freestyle, he says he went back to an old standby, a whole pound of pasta.
“I think I had a pound of spaghetti, and I am not a spaghetti fan,” he said. “I forced myself to eat it.”
You gotta do what you gotta do, and it still seems to be working for him, as he’s earned his spot in the finals of the 200m butterfly race and still has another two events to go after that.
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