If you have been following Michael Phelps in the Olympics, you have probably read stories about his insane 12000 calorie a day diet and how he eats utter garbage yet manages to perform at the level he does. I can pretty much guarantee he does NOT eat this way on a daily basis, and definitely does not eat this way when competing.
If you have not read the article outlining what Michael Phelps 'Allegedly eats', I will outline it below:
- 3 fried-egg sandwiches with cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, fried onions and mayonnaise.
- 1 5 egg omelet
- 1 bowl of grits
- 3 Slices French Toast with powdered sugar
- 3 Chocolate chip pancakes
- 2 cups of coffee
- 500g enriched pasta
- 2 Large ham and cheese sandwiches on white bread with loads of mayonnaise on top
- 1000 calories worth of proprietary sports drink
- 500g enriched pasta
- 1 entire pizza
- 1000 calories of proprietary sports drink
At first glance of this diet, I am honestly not even sure if a morbidly obese person could fit all of that breakfast in their stomach, let alone a 194lb, 6'4 bone rack of a human being like Michael Phelps.
I can already hear the 'but Michael Phelps is a Freak' argument from a mile away, but humor me and read over my reasons why there is no way he eats this way, at least on any day where he practices or competes.
The first reason is quite obvious; humans have limitations associated with digestion. That first meal is easily 4000 calories and no matter how much of a freak you are, we all have to digest. That amount of food would take bare minimum two hours for your body to digest; provided it even could digest all of it. Hell, it could take even longer to digest.
If you are unfamiliar with the human body, digestion diverts blood to your stomach and intestines as part of the digestion process. This is going to limit the amount of red blood cells available to transport nutrients and oxygen to your muscles, ultimately resulting in a lower VO2 Max. VO2 max is the maximum capacity of an individual's body to transport and utilize oxygen during incremental exercise. Since Michael Phelps is a performance athlete, eating this volume of food in one sitting will surely reduce his VO2 max while digesting, greatly reducing his ability to perform at his peak ability. Not to mention the fact that he would probably land some amazing cramps. Don't you remember when your mom used to tell you not to go swimming for an hour after eating? Same principal applies here.
What is the solution to the digestion issue? Any athlete will tell you that they will eat many times throughout the day. Phelps most likely eats 8 smaller meals over the course of the day which are all easily digestible. Not 3 mammoth meals that would put the average human into a coma for hours.
Next, there is no trainer in their right mind who would tell their performance athlete to eat so many unhealthy fats. Maybe he eats a bunch of crap on his off days, or parts of the year when he is not prepping for a major event, but in order to perform at his best he is probably eating much healthier alternatives to what are listed above. If Phelps was to eat the diet outlined above for ten years he would probably be a very large candidate for coronary problems. Hell, if this diet was truly real, I'm surprised his heart didn't stop amidst one of his events in Beijing. This diet could easily be modified to replace the saturated and trans fats with healthy fats, and the garbage white bread with a healthier carbohydrate.
The other argument I hear is that if he didn't eat all these fats and simple sugars, he wouldn't be able to get enough calories. This is another total ridiculous suggestion. A gram of flax seed oil contains just as much calories as a gram of hydrogenated Trans fat. A multigrain flax bread actually contains substantially more calories (as well as nutrients) than a piece of useless empty calorie white bread. All the simple sugars Phelps is allegedly taking in from the sugar coated French toast, chocolate chips in the pancakes, white bread and energy drinks is also a joke. These are all high glycemic carbohydrates which are only good for an athlete to ingest after a grueling workout to replenish glycogen stores in his muscles. Simple sugars supply short term energy when an athlete such as Phelps needs carbohydrates that are low glycemic that provides long term energy.
If you don't know what the glycemic index is, it is basically the measure of the effects carbohydrates have on blood sugar levels. Lower glycemic carbohydrates break down into glucose in your blood stream at a lower rate which aids in controlling blood insulin levels as well as creating longer term energy sources. Higher glycemic index foods break down into glucose very rapidly and generally cause an elevation in insulin in your blood stream which eventually leads to crashes in energy levels.
There are probably other reasons why this diet is garbage, but I feel the reason's I've outlined are more than adequate to support my argument. These are the biggest reasons Phelps' alleged diet is fake, hopefully this prevents a few 12 year old swimmers from jumping on the Michael Phelps diet bandwagon and punishing their bodies with horrible nutrition.