While Michael Phelps has admitted his 12,000 calorie daily diet was probably a bit far fetched, it’s not out of the question for certain athletes and pro bodybuilders to eat in excess of 5,000 calories a day. Cyclists and other long-distance athletes will consume as much as 8,000 calories and this is what is can look like:
3 cereal bars
14 20 oz. bottles of sports drink
4 cups of rice
2 cups of granola with fruit
8 chicken breasts
Even Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson eats over 5,000 calories a day:
Meal 1: 7 oz. cod fish, 4 egg whites, 4 oz. oatmeal (measured before you cook). Take a good multivitamin.
Meal 2: 7 oz. chicken breast, 1.5 cups white rice.
Meal 3: 7 oz. Turkey breast, 1 cup white rice.
Meal 4: 7 oz. chicken breast, 1 cup rice.
Meal 5: 9 oz. steak, salad.
Meal 6: 8 egg whites, 1 cup asparagus and any vegetables you like to make a nice omelette.
Exercise: Do 20 minutes of cardio right after your last meal.
Pre-workout: 1 cup coffee, 1 teaspoonful MCT (medium-chain triglycerides) oil.
Post-workout: 60 grams hydro whey protein, then 25 minutes later drink 20 oz. Gatorade and five grams creatine.
That sounds huge, but if you’re doing intense physical exercise and training 5-8 hours per day 5-6 days a week or just the size if The Rock, you’re going to need a lot of fuel to recover and keep going.
The reality is most of us aren’t training like pro athletes and bodybuilders even though, as Mike Roussell (US nutrition advisor and author of The Metashred Diet) said on episode 11 of The Weekly BJ Podcast “Fitness mimics bodybuilding”. It makes sense to follow and learn from experts and professionals, but it’s also important to apply your own context.
If you’re goal is to be lean and fit at 86kg, you train 3 -4 hours per week, then you shouldn’t be eating a 5,000 calorie body building diet. Depending on your size it’s more likely to be between 2,400 and 3,200.