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Michael Phelps Debunks Those 12,000-Calories-a-Day Reports

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Michael Phelps Debunks Those 12,000-Calories-a-Day Reports
Michael Phelps sets the record straight on his 12,000-calorie Olympic diet. Photo Credit: Bryan Bedder/Getty Images Entertainment/GettyImages

At the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, Michael Phelps’ diet was as buzzworthy as all the medals he was stackin’.

Several media outlets reported the swimming champion was eating an insane amount of food every day to fuel his training regimen: Breakfast alone was supposedly three fried-egg sandwiches, a five-egg omelet, three pieces of French toast, three pancakes and grits. Meanwhile, dinner was said to be an entire large pizza and a pound of pasta — adding up to a whopping total of 12,000 calories a day.

But now Phelps himself is saying none of it is true. He set the record straight during a Facebook Live interview with Men’s Health.

“There’s so many stories that are written about that,” said Phelps, who won 28 medals since his Olympic debut in 2000. “One random paper picked it up over in London and made this fabricated lie. Twelve thousand is not real. It’s impossible. You can’t eat that much.”

The more accurate caloric estimate isn’t an insignificant number, however. Phelps said he was probably eating “between 8,000 and 10,000 calories per day during his prime,” which he considers to be during his high-school days when he was still growing.

But instead of pancakes, French toast and pounds of pasta, Phelps says he focused on lean meat, such as chicken and fish, during training — a diet that sounds more on par with what’s recommended for athletes, though he’d still have a “carbo loading” spaghetti dinner now and then. What makes lean protein like poultry and fish so ideal for athletic training is that they’re great for muscle recovery and cell regeneration. As for carbohydrates, it’s recommended that you focus on whole grains, fruits, vegetables and low-fat milk to increase glucose for energy.

What Do YOU Think?

What do you eat to prepare for a rigorous day of training or physical activity? Do you notice a difference in your athletic performance when you eat pancakes or pasta versus lean protein? Tell us in the comments!

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