12,000 calories and no fruit on the plate. As usual, Bix has made me think. Michael Phelps' diet doesn't seem to be hurting his Olympic performance. But it's surprising to see so little produce in his diet. I heard Bob Costas recite the breakfast menu, but I was surprised when I saw the full daily menu in print....
Breakfast: Three fried-egg sandwiches loaded with cheese,
lettuce, tomatoes, fried onions and mayonnaise. Two cups of coffee. One five-egg
omelette. One bowl of grits. Three slices of French toast topped with powdered
sugar. Three chocolate-chip pancakes.
Lunch: One pound of pasta. Two large ham and cheese
sandwiches with mayonnaise on white bread, plus 1,000 calories of energy drinks.
Dinner: One pound of pasta, an entire pizza and even more
And, according to a 2005 IGN interview, a daily multivitamin.
As a parent, I spend time explaining to my kids why fruit and vegetables make better snacks than cookies, why we don't eat candy when we're hungry, how a sweet-potato muffin can be a better choice than a 4-oz bagel, and why we like to have lots of vegetables during dinner, not just a really big pizza. I explain to them that, if they want to grow up healthy and have the energy and strength to run around and have fun, they need to eat the way I've taught them. Apparantly, that's not strictly true. Michael Phelps' only vegetables come on his morning fried-egg sandwiches, and perhaps in the unspecified pasta sauce, and there's no fruit in his diet at all. Yet he seems to have grown up big, with plenty of strength and energy, and have no health problems -- at least nothing that would interfere with him swimming freestyle and butterfly faster than anyone else in the world.
Of course, even if his foods are low in certain nutrients, he's eating so much that he may be getting what he needs of A, B, C, D, and E and most of his minerals. But what about blood sugar spikes, oxidative stress, arterial plaques, risk of colon cancer, fiber, antioxidants, and omega-3 fatty acids? I didn't worry much about these things when I was 23, either. Even though I wasn't quite as focussed on school as Phelps is on swimming.
Until they ask, I'm not going to confuse the kids by explaining why Michael Phelps' diet is not designed for them -- they aren't 6'4" and 195 pounds, and don't swim 9 miles a day. So they don't eat unlimited "seconds", and are not going to substitute cookies for carrots. Even Michael Phelps doesn't eat cookies. Only chocolate-chip pancakes.