American swimmer/giant-shouldered dreamboat Michael Phelps looks pretty ripped on the cover of this month’s Details magazine, but the Olympic medalist is pretty candid in his interview. Phelps tells the magazine about his struggles with his weight–following the 2008 Olympics, he says he gained 25 pounds. On a 6’4″ frame. Which isn’t all that surprising, considering the way he describes his views on food. Actually, I’m surprised he didn’t gain more.
Judging from today’s headlines, you’d think Phelps had told the magazine that his weight has ballooned up to 300 pounds, or that he’s had to go to a special weight loss camp for the morbidly obese. But it seems that for Phelps, a “weight struggle” really just means “a little body fat.”
After his record-breaking performance at the 2008 Olympics, Phelps says, he stopped doing or caring about much of anything–and stopped swimming or training at all. And it wasn’t until a friend pointed out his weight gain to him that the swimmer says he decided to start getting back into any kind of a fitness regimen. From the magazine:
I gained 25 pounds. A friend of mine and I were playing football on the beach in Miami, and somebody got a picture of us and put it all over the place. And he’s like, “Bro, you gotta start working out, man. You are fat.”
Yikes, that’s not very body-positive. Maybe his friend was just trying to be supportive? Sure, let’s go with that. It only kind of worked–Phelps says that after that, he started training again, but he was really just “going through the motions.” It wasn’t until after he realized he still had more potential (and another Olympics) in him that he really started working toward getting into shape.
But it’s not that surprising that, without the grueling days in the pool, Phelps would put on some weight. The man who was rumored to eat 12,000 calories a day (he says that’s not true) doesn’t seem to have the greatest handle on nutrition. Again, from the interview:
People make a big deal out of what I eat, but it’s not that crazy. I had a three-egg omelet and three pieces of French toast and coffee this morning. For recovery, I think it’s a big deal to eat within a half-hour after you exercise. Otherwise I just try to put carbs into my system before I swim and then load up on the protein after. I don’t count calories. Whether it’s Sour Patch Kids or Reese’s or a bag of chips, if I feel like eating it, I’m going to eat it.
As Details reports his current weight, a 25 pound gain would technically put Phelps close to an “overweight” BMI, but, as we all know, the BMI is pretty bogus, particularly for athletes and anyone with a bit of muscle mass. So, unlike just about every other news outlet, I’m not going to rush to say Phelps was a big, lazy fatty after the Olympics–that’s clearly not the case. Though I can definitely see how a diet of Sour Patch Kids could make him feel like he’d “let himself go.”
But really, if this kind of fuel is what got him all those gold metals (and the body he shows off on the cover of Details), who are the rest of us to judge? Clearly, mounds of candy and French toast are working for the guy–so long as he spends tons of time burning it off and doesn’t have mean friends around to make him feel bad.
Moral of the story: eat like Michael Phelps at your own risk. You’ll either break records…or feel kind of gross.