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Why Michael Phelps 12000 Calorie Diet is Fake

By Edited Oct 27, 2013 2 11

Michael Phelps in a Speedo
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.

Michael Phelps Swimming
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.

Michael Phelps Diving
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.


Aug 21, 2008 5:02pm
There's no way you could eat all that bullshit in one sitting and actually feel like swimming like a sea-doo.
Aug 21, 2008 11:13pm
You folks have no idea what you are talking about. Including the nutritionist from the BBC bit. This is all very entertaining but the fact is swimming requires enormous amounts of calories, especially from carbohydrates. It is pretty simple: Swim 5 to 10 miles a day=extreme need for extended energy (carbohydrates) and high amounts of protein for muscle repair. Go swim for one hour non-stop today and see how many carbohydrates you consume or pass out! It is about what you do with your body not what you should eat according to armchair experts or licensed nutritionists.
Aug 22, 2008 12:23am
I didn't debate the fact that he probably eats a ton of calories. I doubted the fact that he eats the volume of calories in one meal and then goes and swims. Its ludicrous.
Aug 22, 2008 10:21am
Actually, you don't know what you're talking about. In the army, we ate 10,000 calories a day and still lost weight. We were working hard all day. Phelps is swimming for at least 5 hours a day. Your body needs all the calories it can get (learn how calories "burn") if you're going to use it that much. If you sit behind a computer all day, and eat 12,000 calories you're going to look like you probably already do. Eating so many calories and being as fit and Phelps just means that you're literally burning every calorie in your intake.

"Don’t you remember when your mom used to tell you not to go swimming for an hour after eating?"

That's a myth, douche bag. You really need to get your facts straight. Just because you go to Wikipedia and look up "digestion" doesn't make you an expert.
Aug 22, 2008 11:19am
Thanks for the comment! I never once said that Michael Phelps doesn't eat 12000 calories a day. I said he doesn't eat 4000 calories in one sitting, and I said that its doubtful an Olympic athlete would choose to eat this garbage when there are clearly better choices.

You are obviously biased being an American Soldier and probably want to believe every last drip of American propaganda thrown your way.

Regardless, thanks for taking the time to post your opinion.
Aug 22, 2008 12:03pm
"You are obviously biased being an American Soldier and probably want to believe every last drip of American propaganda thrown your way."

I never said I was American.

"...probably want to believe every last drip of American propaganda thrown your way"

American propaganda? This guys DIET is American propaganda? Do you even know what propoganda means? Just because he's won the most gold medals, doesn't mean you have to post things like this. You have NO IDEA what he eats. If his diet was the same and he did not win gold medals, you wouldn't have written this.

"I never once said that Michael Phelps doesn't eat 12000 calories a day."

Oh? What about this statement?

"If you have been following Michael Phelps in the Olympics, you have probably read stories about his insane 12000 calorie a day diet.."

... and this one.

"...I can pretty much guarantee he does NOT eat this way on a daily basis"

Hmm... odd. Sounds like you said it to me.

What about the title?

"Why Michael Phelps 12000 calorie diet is fake."

Don't post your Anti-American propoganda just because Phelps is a great athete.
Aug 22, 2008 12:12pm
Also, don't say something then backdown and try and change what it was that you said. That's being a coward. Stick to your guns if you really believe that, I'm just saying it IS possible to eat that many calories AND eat that for breakfast.

My brother-in-law is 6'5" and he puts it away like you can't believe. HIS dad is 6'8" and eats even more. It wouldn't surprise me at all to see a person eat that for breakfast.

Also, neither of them are over weight.
Aug 23, 2008 8:52am
I can't see how the average human being is able to eat such a diet and be so dominant in an athletic sport but it's clearly obvious that Mr Phelps isn't average.

I'm guessing that he doesn't maintain this diet on competition day but his caloric intake and what he eats may not matter too much in his case.

If the average 6'4" man at 200lbs needs let's say 2000-2800 calroies a day to maintain his weight (that's just a total estimate based on what I've studied in the past)... You just can't compare that to an athlete who trains 4-7 hrs a day an a very rigourous level. I've read that it is fact that a Navy Seal needs to intake 8000-10000 calories a day to keep adequate nutrition. What they eat I have no idea.

You also need to keep in mind that Phelps genetics are off the charts. He's one in millions as far as prefect genetics for human performance. Add the fact that his idle metabolic rate is exponentially faster and more efficient than the averag personjoe and you've got someone who can burn 12,000 calories when he IS training. So what about the bad stuff he eats? He's constantly detoxing so any build up of any sludge he eats is cleaned out daily. It's not overly releveant what he eats as long as it isn't syhnthetic chemicals, alcohol or processed foods with shitty additives.

Maybe the diet in the article is exagerrated but I don't doubt he CAN eat 12,000 calories a day and burn it off daily. His body is the epitomy of how the human body can process nutrition and his ability to dominate a sport.
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