Celebrity Diets & Workouts

Michael Phelps’ Diet & Nutrition Routine

On Daily Routines, we profile successful leaders, entrepreneurs, artists, executives and athletes to explore their routines, schedules, habits and day in the life.

The myth of Michael Phelps consuming 12,000 calories a day has been a topic of intrigue and inspiration for many, but as it turns out, the reality was somewhat different, albeit still extraordinary. Contrary to the widespread belief, fueled by a sensational article from The Telegraph, Phelps’ diet during his Olympian days was closer to an intake of 8,000 – 10,000 calories daily, a figure that, while not reaching the mythical 12,000, still dwarfs the average person’s consumption of 2,000 – 2,500 calories.

Phelps, known as arguably the greatest swimmer of all time and the most decorated Olympian ever with a total of 28 medals, required an immense amount of energy to support his rigorous training regimen. His breakfast alone included three fried-egg sandwiches, a five-egg omelette, a bowl of grain, three slices of French toast, and three chocolate-chip pancakes, followed by hefty lunches and dinners comprising pounds of pasta, large sandwiches, pizzas, and energy drinks, as detailed by The Telegraph.

However, Phelps’ commitment to his sport went beyond just a high-calorie diet. His training routine was nothing short of extraordinary, swimming 80,000 metres each week, undergoing double sessions three times a week, and focusing on recovery through ice baths, stretching, working with a trainer, massages, and sleeping in a chamber at 9,000 feet, as revealed in an interview with Men’s Journal. Phelps himself emphasised the importance of sleep in his recovery process, aiming to ensure his body was ready for the next race or training session.

The intensity and volume of Phelps’ training set him apart from other Olympic swimmers. His coach, Bob Bowman, highlighted the individualised nature of Phelps’ training regimen, which was tailored to his specific needs, according to Men’s Journal. This meticulous approach contributed to Phelps’ historic performance at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, where he won eight gold medals, surpassing Mark Spitz’s record and becoming a legend in the world of sports.

Charles Duhigg, in his book The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business, outlined Phelps’ race day routine during the 2008 Games, starting with a breakfast of eggs, oatmeal, and energy shakes, and followed by a precise stretching and warm-up routine, demonstrating the athlete’s disciplined approach to his sport.

Post-retirement, Phelps has significantly adjusted his routine and diet. In a 2021 interview with GQ, he shared that his daily calorie intake no longer reaches the heights of his swimming days. His diet now includes more balanced meals, with a focus on nutrition that supports his current lifestyle, which includes regular workouts with his wife, Nicole, but not the gruelling swim sessions of his past. Phelps’ commitment to fitness remains, as evidenced by his enthusiasm for spin classes and maintaining a healthy lifestyle for himself and his family.

About Author

Hey there! I'm Hao, the Editor-in-Chief at Balance the Grind. We’re on a mission to showcase healthy work-life balance through interesting stories from people all over the world, in different careers and lifestyles.