The Insane 10,000-Calorie Diet Michael Phelps Ate In His Prime Is Worth Another Look

Michael Phelps after winning gold

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The diet Michael Phelps relied on during his historic Olympic run made no sense back in the early 2000s and continues to make no sense.

The following  question has been posed a million times before: If you could have one superpower for the rest of your life, what would you pick?

While answers like invisibility or flying are fine, they’re also cliché. I’ve always wanted something more personal; something to help myself. I’m not trying to help any damsels in distress. My answer has been (and continues to be) “I could eat anything without having to worry about the calories.”

Well, Michael Phelps seems to have already embodied that superpower.

A veritable American superhero and 23-time gold medalist, Phelps went on a historic run between 2000 and 2016 (an era spanning five different Summer Olympics) where the juggernaut became the most decorated Olympic athlete of all time.

Phelps was dominant to the point that he made the sport of swimming appointment viewing whenever he hopped into a pool at the Games, and he understandably became an international sensation.

Of course, the story behind the athlete is what really hooks a lot of people, the diet of Michael Phelps quickly became one of the defining aspects of his journey (along with one little night that forced him to be sorry for partying).

A standard American diet should consist of about 2,000 calories a day; this is what’s considered healthy to maintain weight and takes into account calories burned.

Michael Phelps, on the other hand, was consistently eating 10,000 calories a day just to maintain his weight. Granted, he was an elite Athlete, pushing himself to the limit, training six hours every day, and burning an insane amount of energy.

But still, 10,000 is an absurd number. You can’t tell me you wouldn’t want to be able to eat anything, forcing ice cream and pancakes down your throat, just to hopefully not lose weight. It sounds like the American Dream.

But how did he even manage to hit that mark? I’m glad you asked.

How did Michael Phelps even have a diet that allowed him to eat 10,000 calories a day?

Michael Phelps eating Subway

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Let’s kick things off in the morning.


  • 3 fried egg sandwiches with cheese, tomatoes, lettuce fried onions, and mayonnaise
  • 3 chocolate chip pancakes
  • 1 five-egg omelet
  • 3 sugar-coated slices of French toast
  • A bowl of grits
  • 2 cups of coffee

This was his breakfast. Alone. If I have 1/10 of that, my brain is fogged and the day is ruined.

Phelps would start the day with fried foods, loaves of bread, and chocolate. Keep in mind, this is all before he would have to go work out intensely for 6 hours, to continue his dominance in the sport.

Also, it’s worth noting he had to take his shirt off after eating this. If I have a sandwich, I’m going in the pool with a shirt.


  • ½ KG of pasta
  • 2 large ham and cheese sandwiches on white bread with mayo
  • Energy drinks

You read that right: KG (kilograms, that is). My man was eating so much that we had to switch to the metric system to properly quantify just how much food he is eating.


  • 1 lb of Pasta with sauce
  • 1 Large Pizza
  • Energy drinks

A large pizza alone is crazy, but to think about eating that after 1 whole pound of pasta makes my stomach hurt just thinking about it.

I don’t really know what’s up with all of this coffee and energy drinks (especially at night) but I’m not swimming 50 miles a day, so hats off to him.


  • Whatever the hell he wanted

The article that detailed Phelps’s day didn’t explicitly say what he ate for a snack, but it did note that if he got hungry in between his training he would stop and eat whatever he wanted.

I can’t fathom how or why he would ever be hungry, let alone find room to eat more, but if he did, I have to imagine it was Subway.

This diet—which would be enough for five average people—sustained Phelps throughout his Olympic run but hopefully has not continued to this day, or else we’d see some sort of Reverse Retired Lineman Body Transformation.

And look at that, Joe Thomas got ripped by swimming.

If you love food as much as I do, reading this really begs the question: Why am I not swimming more?

Instead of going for our little 2-mile walks to burn 400 calories allowing for some Oreos, if we all just started swimming, we could get the superpower I yearn for.

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Tj Francis is an NYC-based writer and comedian who covers weird sports stories and largely forgotten tales involving your favorite athletes, teams, and personalities.