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Great article from swimswam

Championship swimmers are among the best-conditioned athletes around and offer a good example of the important relationship between diet and performance.

The daily caloric intake of Olympic swimmers is somewhat staggering.  Both Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte claim to consume about 10,000 calories a day. According to a recent insight piece from, that’s the equivalent of 83 protein shakes or 8 whole chickens every day. The team there calculated the calorie intake for 12 global sports and it’s no surprise with the above figures that swimmers came out on top with the highest average calorie intake.

The average person will burn between 400 and 600 calories per hour while swimming, depending on the intensity of the workout. However, considering that Olympic swimmers are not doing the same workout as the average person, they can burn much more than that during intense workouts. With two to three workouts per day, Olympic swimmers can burn about 3,000 calories-10,000 per day working out.  When you consider how many calories they burn off per day, their intake is understandable. What is more important than simply eating a lot, however, is what they eat.

Michael Phelps told Bob Costas that his normal breakfast consisted of three fried egg sandwiches with cheese, tomato, lettuce, fried onions and mayonnaise, an omelette, a bowl of grits, three chocolate-chip pancakes, and three slices of French toast.

Ryan Lochte, who confesses to being a former junk food addict, says that his preferred recovery meal is whole grain spaghetti, three grilled chicken breasts with Alfredo sauce, and a salad with olive oil and lemon juice.

US Olympian Peter Vanderkaay shared his daily food diary in an interview, which shows how he balances building energy and repairing muscle:

  • Pre-workout: PowerBar and a banana
  • Workout: 32-ounces of PowerBar Restore drink
  • Post-workout: 8-ounces of chocolate milk
  • Breakfast: A 5-egg omelette with 2 ounces of salsa; 2 cups of yogurt with 1/2 cup of blueberries and 1/2 cup of granola; 16 ounces of water
  • Lunch: 1 peanut butter and jelly sandwich, 1 apple, 16 ounces of water
  • Workout: 32 ounces of PowerBar Restore drink
  • Post-workout: 8 ounces of chocolate milk
  • Dinner: 2 grilled marinated chicken breasts, 1 cup of brown rice, 10 spears of grilled asparagus, 16 of ounces water


Not all foods are equal in terms of nutritional value. Here are some that are not only excellent at supplying ready energy, but are also loaded with natural vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

  • Brown Rice – Whenever you have the choice between whole grains and processed, always take the whole grain option.
  • Nuts – Walnuts and almonds are especially good. Many nutritionists recommend that you eat about an ounce of nuts per day.
  • Broccoli – Rich in vitamins and antioxidants.
  • Sprouted Seeds – Sprouted seeds from fruits and vegetables (watermelon, lentils, mung beans, and adzuki) are easy to prepare and can be used in soups, on salads, or as a side dish.
  • Beetroot – another antioxidant rich food
  • Unsweetened chocolate – Chocolate is rich in flavonoids and is good for your heart, circulatory system and even mental health.
  • Apricots – Tasty and really good for you. Apricots are the broccoli of the fruit world.

How much food?

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