When Michael Phelps revealed his “Olympic-diet” back in 2008, the world was shocked (and slightly horrified).
Not only did he eat a whopping 12,000 calories per day, but instead of protein shakes and veggie-heavy omelettes filling his plates, it looked a lot more like a college frat boy’s dream.
Exhibit A, a typical breakfast: Three fried-egg sandwiches loaded with cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, fried onions, and mayonnaise. Two cups of coffee. One five-egg omelet. One bowl of grits. Three slices of French toast topped with powdered sugar. Three chocolate-chip pancakes.
Sure, he was swimming upwards of five hours per day, six days a week, but that glimpse into the world of an Olympic diet sent the internet into a frenzy.
But it turns out that not all Olympians are taking the Phelps approach—and even the record-breaking swimmer admits he’s majorly cleaned up his diet.
According to a recent report by Vox, most US athletes in Rio are eating pretty clean, highlighting veggies, green smoothies, and lean protein as their pre-medal-winning fuel.
Gymnast Gabby Douglas for example, fills up on grilled chicken and asparagus (and some ACV on the side), while soccer player Julie Johnston relies on peanut butter shakes and chicken noodle soup. Swimmer Nathan Adrian—a relay-winning medalist alongside Phelps—needs a bit more fuel at 6-foot-6, 220 pounds, but he tends to stick to rice bowls, turkey sandwiches, and fruits and veggies (which can sometimes add up to 8,000 calories a day).
It’s nice to know that Olympians share eating plans that are similar to us mere mortals. And in case you were wondering whether Phelps would succumb to peer pressure and turn into a Tom Brady, rest assured: He still knows how to carbo-load with fellow swimmer Ryan Lochte.
This Olympics, Phelps got people talking about another part of his regimen—check out the wellness hack that is keeping him in top shape. And then check out the healthy lessons that today’s champs (and you!) can learn from OG Olympian Mary Lou Retton.