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Michael Phelps' Calorie Count

August 18, 2008

Most people are confused about how many calories they need. The USDA recommends 2,000 calories a day, but how do they know what each person needs?

Someone as active as Olympic gold medalist, Michael Phelps, who trains 30 hours a week may not be able to subsist on a 2,000 calorie diet. In fact, according to a recent Wall Street Journal post he consumes 12,000 calories a day! Each meal is 4,000 calories. While an average person may have a bowl of cereal with cut up fruit for breakfast, Phelps has 3 fried egg sandwiches, 2 cups of coffee, an omelet with 5 eggs, a bowl of grits, 3 pieces of French toast and 3 chocolate chip pancakes. This may seem like an extreme amount even for an athlete, but if Phelps does not eat more calories than he burns in a race then his body will not recover in time for the next one. Because he exercises and burns thousands of calories, he is able to eat all that food and not gain weight.  

Some say the secret to weight loss is not really about the calories, but the nutrients they provide. The idea of eating more and weighing less is very popular, and why not? Get this. You can eat a package of Oreos for 2,200 calories or for that same amount—and more nutrition—you can eat, 1 pound each of carrots, papaya, apples, onions, lettuce, kale, tofu, 2% cottage cheese, 2 pounds each of cantaloupe, celery and cucumber. Go for the gold in your own life. Try consuming high volumes of nutrient-rich vegetables and fruit to fill you up and see how you feel.

About the author

Joshua Rosenthal is the Founder and Director of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. He has worked in the nutrition field for more than 25 years, teaching at the school alongside health leaders including Andrew Weil, Deepak Chopra and Barry Sears. At Integrative Nutrition students are trained as Health Coaches, receiving the holistic nutrition education necessary for them go out into the world and help others improve their health and happiness.