I read an article the other day that I found incredible. It was written byMatt Erlenbusch, MS, RD. The article says what I have thought for years, but it was great to hear it coming from a certified dietician and Ironman triathlete. Here’s the link to the article, go read it:
Here are some of the highlights:
On Michael Phelps 10,000 calorie diet, “Assuming this staggering calorie number is true, it certainly seems to work for him. His intense training regimen allows him to pull this feat off. Phelps leads a very extraordinary lifestyle, but you probably know someone who trains almost as intensely, too. How many of the intense exercisers that you know consume even one-third of what Phelps does? And, more to the point, how many of them have results like Phelps? Regardless, the fact is that Phelps consumes the number of calories that he needs to fuel his body, given his intense workout regimen.”
He goes on, “In their never-ending pursuit of those realities, the American Dietetic Association, Dietitians of Canada and The American College of Sports Medicine published a joint statement in 2000 entitled Nutrition and Athletic Performance. It states:
“Meeting energy needs is the first nutrition priority for athletes. Achieving energy balance is essential for the maintenance of lean tissue mass, immune and reproductive functions, and optimum athletic performance. Inadequate energy intake relative to energy expenditure compromises performance and the benefits associated with training. With limited energy intake, fat and lean tissue mass will be used by the body for fuel. Loss of muscle results in the loss of strength and endurance.”
You will not find a clearer message from a more respected organization anywhere. The reason you devote grueling hours to training for your sport is to build strength and endurance. Don’t undermine your efforts by doing what the world’s experts explicitly tell us will erode our strength and endurance.
The laws of physics are very clear on this: Calories-in must equal calories-burned to maintain the same weight. If calories-in are less than calories-burned, weight will decrease. If a calorie-restricting athlete has no extra weight to lose, strength and endurance — and ultimately performance — will suffer, as my aforementioned triathlete acquaintance had found. If the athlete is at a healthy weight, matching intake to output is nutritionally superior, as Phelps so masterfully demonstrated at the Olympics.
If peak performance is the rationale behind the nearly all-day training lifestyle, why do athletes regularly defy science and restrict calories below their factual needs.”
If you are working out hard, looking to make gains, and trying to achieve your goals, you need to fuel your body for that. Working out 3 hours a day and eating 2,000 calories with affect you NEGATIVELY. Wonder why you haven’t gotten faster or stronger? Take the advice from Matt and Phelps: 12 gold medals and like 8 world records (or something like that right?) plus strapping muscles and abs? I think he’s doing something right.
Phelps is a stellar athlete training hard, he NEEDS that fuel.
I have struggled with an eating disorder myself since about 10th grade of high school (I’m 23 now). While I have made huge strides in my recovery since then (even going to an in-patient rehab clinic at one point) I still do battle with anorexic thoughts and habits everyday.
I have been doing triathlons the 4 or 5 years now and love them, but still battle with trying to find the right balance of training, nutrition, weight lifting, and enjoying life.
I want to thank Matt Erlenbusch for writing this article and I suggest everyone read and think about its message.