As US swimming sensation Michael Phelps sets his sights on more gold medal wins at the Beijing Olympics this weekend, the BBC’s Michael Hirst examines the part an extraordinary diet has played in the sportsman’s remarkable success.
If it is true that you are what you eat, then here is the suggested intake if you want to become history’s most successful Olympian:
For breakfast: three fried egg sandwiches, with cheese, tomatoes, lettuce, fried onions and mayonnaise, followed by three chocolate-chip pancakes; a five-egg omelette; three sugar-coated slices of French toast and a bowl of grits (a maize-based porridge), washed down with two cups of coffee.
For lunch: half a kilogram (one pound) of enriched pasta; two large ham and cheese sandwiches on white bread smothered with mayonnaise, washed down by energy drinks.
For dinner: Another half-kilogram of pasta, perhaps with a carbonara sauce, followed by a large pizza and more energy drinks.
That combination may not sound very healthy, and at a staggering 10,000 calories, would feed five average men for a day.
But the menu is reportedly all in a training day’s eating for champion swimmer Michael Phelps, who won six gold medals in the 2004 Athens Olympics and is aiming for eight this time round.
“Eat, sleep and swim, that’s all I can do,” said the US swimmer, after winning his 11th Olympic gold.
In addition to being amazed that Phelps doesn’t sink after eating all of this, I was thinking about my own diet of spiritual food.
I got a picture of myself being a spiritual race…what kind of food and how much food would I want to eat in order to finish and even win the race? I think I’ve often convinced myself that it’s ok to live like I’m in the off-season…so I get lazy in my training, my diet shrinks, and then I have no energy to sustain me even trying to run (or swim) the race even if I wanted to.
Spiritually speaking, I need to packing in the grits, the eggs, the energy drinks, the pizza, the pasta…to sustain me in the race (battle is a more appropriate word most of the time!) that I’m in. I want to be training in a way that makes the race enjoyable…not like an out-of-shape, ex-athlete trying to set out to do a marathon without even being able to jog around the block! (not that, that was any commentary on me of course!)
Two things on the more positive side:
1. I did go jogging yesterday and had a great time! I woke up less sore than I did yesterdaay and feel great. I think I’ll be running more now.
2. I do down two cups of coffee at breakfast like Michael Phelps…Somebody’s got to beat him at something, so I’m going to go for three cups today.