It seems like the biggest news to come out of Beijing today is how much swimmer Michael Phelps must eat. The darling of the 2008 Olympics must pack in 12,000 calories a day in order to keep up the energy to fuel his grueling 5-hour-a-day, 6-days-a-week training schedule.
I’m jealous and I have no shame in admitting that. And I have a feeling that anyone who has been on a diet or looked in the mirror and wasn’t truly happy with what they saw, has a twinge of jealousy, too. Twelve thousand calories! That is over 9,000 calories more than the recommended daily caloric intake of most males in this country. It takes effort to eat that much. But Phelps is no stranger to effort.
At least he knows how lucky he is. Phelps doesn’t take his bottomless appetite for granted. He knows that he’s one of the very, very lucky ones who never has to think about what he can’t eat. He can eat anything he wants. And he knows that once he stops his swimming workouts, his days of feasting might come to a close. But to eat like that and to look that way…. that boy must have done something wonderful in a former life to be living a life of such beauty and gluttony.
What it would be like to wake up in the morning and know that you could not just eat anything you wanted, but that you HAD to eat it? Do you think that the sweet indulgence of food would lose its flavor? Would gooey brownies taste as decadent? Would this gastronomic freedom make you love just as much as you do now on your 1,500-calorie a day eating regimen or would eating become more of a chore, and perhaps, god forbid, an annoyance?
It’s quite realistic to believe that the lure of food would lose some of its attraction, but you can’t argue with the sumptuous taste of a cheesy piece of pizza or a fresh-out-of-the-oven, melt-in-your-mouth chocolate chip cookie. I don’t think that kind of “beauty” loses its luster too quickly.
But back to reality. If you’re wondering what Michael, “The Stomach,” Phelps eats, here is a look at a typical day’s worth of food.
Breakfast: Three fried-egg sandwiches loaded with cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, fried onions and mayonnaise, two cups of coffee, a five-egg omelet, a bowl of grits, three slices of French toast topped with powdered sugar and three chocolate-chip pancakes.
Lunch: One pound of enriched pasta and two large ham and cheese sandwiches slathered with mayonaise on white bread and 1,000 calories worth of energy drinks.
Dinner: One pound of pasta and an entire pizza and another 1,000 calories worth of energy drinks.
How does he manage to swim after that?
It should also be noted that Phelps is unable to break the 200 pound mark.