By Jessica Ryen Doyle
Maybe it was a bagel, or a bowl of cereal to go along with that cup of coffee.
Now compare that to what Olympic gold medalist and swimming sensation Michael Phelps eats in the morning, and you might feel a little malnourished:
— three fried egg sandwiches with cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, fried onions, and mayo
— one five-egg omelets
— a bowl of grits
— three slices of French toast with powdered sugar
— three chocolate chip pancakes
— two cups of coffee
Altogether, Phelps consumes 12,000 calories a day while in training. Compared to the 2,500-3,000 calories a day the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommends for men depending on age and activity level, Phelps diet seems outrageous.
But it is, in fact, a completely normal diet for an Olympic athlete like Phelps, said Tanya Zuckerbrot, a nutritionist and author of “The F-Factor.”
Look at his picture, he’s completely ripped,” Zuckerbrot told FOXNews.com. “He is clearly burning that many calories — if he wasn’t, he would look chubby.”
Zuckerbrot said Phelps probably doesn’t eat that many calories during his off-training season as his high-fat, high-carbohydrate diet would be dangerous to his health.
“It’s interesting, if he wasn’t eating that many calories, he wouldn’t be winning, because he wouldn’t have the energy,” Zuckerbrot said. “The carbs is what the body uses for energy. You have to give the body glucose to fuel it. That’s why people on the Atkins diet (an all-protein diet) can’t work-out.”
For lunch, Phelps drinks 1,000 calories worth of energy drinks, one pound of pasta with tomato sauce and two large ham and cheese sandwiches (with mayo) on white bread.
For dinner, Phelps’ meal consists of six to eight slices of pizza, another pound of pasta with tomato sauce, and 1,000 calories of energy drinks.
These meals are important, Zuckerbrot said, because the breads and pasta are made up of refined carbohydrates, which digests quickly and give him instant energy.
Zuckerbrot said she would not recommend Phelps’ diet to the average person who hopes to have a high intensity work out at the gym for an hour, but then sit at their desk all day.
“This is a diet created for an Olympic performer,” she said. “Clearly with 11 medals under his belt, it’s working.”