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The colossal appetite of Phelps

hildebrandt-amber-52.jpg
by Amber Hildebrandt, CBCNews.ca

Michael Phelps surprised the world with his gargantuan win of eight gold medals at the Beijing Olympics, but it's his caloric intake that's now stunning everyone.

At 23 years old, he consumes a gut-busting 12,000 calories a day. About 2,000 a day would be typical.

Just for breakfast, Phelps is said to eat his way through a five-egg omelet, a bowl of grits, three fried-egg sandwiches, three chocolate chip pancakes, three pieces of French toast and two cups of coffee.

Attempts by reporters around the world to mirror the mind-boggling consumption of the six-foot-four American had many of them begging for a bucket.

Corey Mintz of the Toronto Star fell about 9,000 calories short of Phelps, while the Globe and Mail's Dave McGinn managed to eke past the halfway point.

Across the pond, Jon Henley of the UK Guardian ate one-fifth of the calories and appears woeful in an online video as he eyes up a lunch of two mayo-slathered ham sandwiches.

But as Mintz concludes, "There's no hope of coming close to Phelps's intake. The dude is Captain America, Aquaman and Friar Tuck rolled into one, with the drag resistance of an eel."

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RHP

Montreal

I totally believe this. I never quite ate THIS much, but there were times during my swimming years where I could not eat enough to maintain my weight. One winter the club I swam with went to Barbados for two weeks and we swam triple days several times. I remember having the dinner we had catered at our lodgings, then going out for dinner again an hour later. And I came home from those two weeks lighter!

It's like an F1 car compared to my regular beater road car. I need 60 litres of gas to travel 700 kms. An F1 car gets about 100 km from the same 60 litres.

Phelps is an F1 car in this analogy.

Posted August 20, 2008 08:15 PM

RDC

Toronto

I am not surprised at all. When I was younger and into sports & dancing I ate a lot. I didn't realise how much food I consumed in one meal until one day at a dinner function a priest standing behind me at at the buffet line up said "I hope you kept some food for the others" It was only then that I looked around and saw that my plate was filled up 3 times compared to the others. It was embarrassing, but that is how much food I needed to keep my body going.

Posted August 21, 2008 08:22 AM

Jeannie McQuaid

Belleville

This comes as no surprise to me and I've never been a competitive swimmer. One only has to observe one's grandchildren after a 1/2 hour of play in the pool. They head straight for the kitchen in search of the most high-calory snacks they can find. An hour later they hastily clean their plates at the dinner table then cast an eye towards mine.

Posted August 21, 2008 09:18 AM

RMT

Ottawa

I gotta start swimming!

Posted August 21, 2008 10:32 AM

TC

Calgary

Even if the dude has a fast metabolism, i'm going to bet that his training (swimming 4 hours a day, or whatever it is) burns 3/4's of that 12000 calories.

Posted August 21, 2008 01:14 PM

Joyce

Toronto

First, the facts are wrong.

To maintain his weight, an average 23 year old of his height and weight with the percentage of muscles he has, who live a moderately active lifestyle would require about 3500 to 4000 calories a day, not the typical 2000 as quoted.

Now add in the level of activity and metabolism required of a world class athlete like Mr. Phelps, 10000 to 12000 calories a day is not surprising.

We're just pea-soup green with envy.

Posted August 21, 2008 02:33 PM

jcm

kitchener

i'd just like to correct RHP. in order to travel 700 kilometres, a formula 1 car would need about 525 litres of gas.

this corrects your analogy which is trying to show that a high performance person requires a lot of fuel to function, similar to a high performance car.

phelphs really is a phenomenon, as is usain bolt, jamaica's star sprinter.

Posted August 21, 2008 03:43 PM

Joe King

I'll bet he doesn't even enjoy eating that much. Sink or swim, buddy!

Posted August 21, 2008 04:09 PM

Try

Toronto

Yes hes beastly. im sure he pushes himself in practices also...

and Joyce

2000 calories are supposed to be the amount of calories people should have on average a day. it all differs on what they do but she was trying to compare to an average person

Posted August 21, 2008 09:15 PM

Anonymous

Gee whiz, and here I've been believing all these years that you need to wait at least 2-3 hours -- depending on what you ate -- before you should swim, or else you might get cramped, sink like a stone and painfully disappear through the pool drain.

I actually grew up in parts of Ottawa and Toronto where we'd test this theory regularly, with all of our hired staff bringing the said carbs under question to us with the duly appropriate silent reverence.

I'm really and truly not kidding. When I hear how metabolically evolved -- and at the same time challenged -- Michael Phelps is, i don't know how we deprived ones have even survived well enough to run the government, Bay St., RCMP, and CSIS. Truly AMAZING . . .!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted August 21, 2008 10:27 PM

Davebow

Watched a program about the Iditerod Sled-dog race.
A 75 lb. dog consumes 25 K. calories per day. I thought I had mis-heard. lol
A Vet. confirmed the figures. WOW !
D.

Posted August 22, 2008 05:32 AM

tb

Cal

I believe it!
I heard that Michael Phelps is an animal in the gym and in the pool.
I wish I could eat that much and look that good.
Good for him!

Posted September 3, 2008 10:53 AM

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From trends and culture to politics and nutrition, Food Bytes serves up tasty tidbits about food and the issues surrounding it that flavour our everyday lives.

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Amber Hildebrandt Amber Hildebrandt writes for CBCNews.ca in Toronto. Growing up on a farm in Manitoba, she acquired an insatiable appetite, but it was during a stint in Japan that she developed her discerning tastebuds and "foodie" ways.

Andrea Chiu Andrea Chiu is an associate producer at CBC Radio Digital. Though she loves to eat, cook and discuss food, don't ask her to bake. It never turns out well. She tweets as @TOfoodie on Twitter and organizes food and wine events in Toronto called FoodieMeet.

Tara Kimura Tara Kimura is the consumer life reporter for CBCNews.ca, covering a wide range of issues that range from rising food costs and the growing organic movement, to new trends in the marketplace.

Andree Lau Andree Lau is a CBC web reporter in Calgary. Her journalism career includes seven years as a CBC-TV reporter. Her own blog called "are you gonna eat that?" chronicles her eating adventures (including sampling snake and camel hoof tendon).

Jessica Wong Jessica Wong is a CBCNews.ca writer who loves to eat and cook, as well as discuss, read and watch programming about food, sometimes all at once.

Kevin Yarr Kevin Yarr, CBCNews.ca's writer in Prince Edward Island, wrote about food and beer for national and regional magazines before joining the CBC. He acquired a desire for new tastes on his first trip to Europe, and an appreciation of eating locally and in season when he finally settled down on P.E.I.

Elizabeth Bridge Elizabeth Bridge is a writer with the CBC Digital Archives in Toronto. She first ventured into the kitchen as a child to indulge a sweet tooth by baking cookies and making fudge. A student budget compelled her to be a vegetarian (for a while) and instilled in her an ongoing curiosity about food and cooking.

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