Essential Sports Nutrition


I was wrong

OK Phelps.

You Win.

After a finish like that and making can eat whatever you want Mr. Phelps.

Only kidding. A diet of a swimmer who puts out a finish like that and a noteworthy Olympic performance is only putting the best into his body right now.


*BTW - I thought the olympics was suppose to make us better athletes?? You know, insipre us to wake up and work a bit harder than the day before? Instead I am finding myself staying up until way past 11pm and then waking up super early so I can rush through a morning workout to catch everything I missed on the DVR. Errrr, I just feel guilty if I miss anything!!! :)


Not buying it

12,000 calories a day???? Ok, I will believe 8,000-10,000 calories a day but even with all those golds you have to watch what you eat Michael Phelps.
Before I go off on my rampaged of sports nutrition I want to talk about swimming as a sport.

Having spent a mere 10 years of my life swimming competitively, I know the life of a swimmer. Sleep, eat and swim. You add in a little school, homework, extracurriculars (piano lessons for me) and an occasional night out with friends, swimming was my life from my 8th grade year until I graduated from college.

I know what it is like to swim a 5 x 2 hour afternoon swim practices a week and 1, 3 hour swim practice on sat morning, after having swam an hour at 4:30am, 3 days a week, and then an hour of dry land 3 days a week. And that was just in High School. Life got a bit more challenging when I was spending 4 years in college trying to balance 4 x 1 hour morning swim practices at 5am and then 5 x 2 1/2 hour afternoon practices and 4-5 dry land sessions a week, all while working for a bachelor degree. Oh, and then there are swim meets when I could swim anywhere from 9 races in a 3-day USS meet or 3-4 races in a one-day collegiate meet. Since I choose the mid-distance and anything but freestyle, I can almost remember many painful swim practices where I only thought about how many hours I had until the next swim practice. Did my shoulders have enough time to recover and why does my back hurt so bad?? I do remember several horrible swim sets which had me really wishing that I was a 50 freestyler. However, I absolutely loved swimming and I really can't remember a time when I asked my parents not to take me to swim practice and if something interfered with swim practice, it was an awful feeling to miss even 1 swim practice.
Here are a few of my favorite swim sets:
- 20 x 100's free repeaters on 1:15. If you missed a cycle, you start back at #1. I remember having to start over at #12. This set was on a sat morning in HS and all I wanted to do was finish the set so I could go home to eat and sleep.
- 8 x 400 IM's. I don't remember the cycle but I remember my USS swim team (in HS) going to meet Janet Evans at a swim shop so we did a set that she would do. Lucky us.
-8 x 50's no breath. Yes, you heard me right. This was a set we did in college every several weeks. It was more mental than anything since lung capacity is a given when you are a college swimmer. You had all the time in the world to do each 50 and you had to dive off the block and do a flip turn.
-8 x 200's butterfly. This was a big set for me every year of college and HS. MY best time was at the KY state swim meet when I placed 7th in the final heat of 200 fly and swam 2:19. I'd probably die if I tried to swim more than a 50 butterfly all out right now. Thank goodness I am an IM athlete :)
-8 x 100's fly on 7 min. Each 100 had to be below 1:10. Ouch, that's all I remember from this one.

But in addition to swimming, there is also dryland. This is where triathletes, cyclists and most other athletes differ from swimmers. Dryland is another component of the sport of swimming. Whereas triathletes spend time swimming, biking and running and leave very little time for weight lifting and other exercises, an hour a day on most days of the week is left to dryland exercises. This is where swimmers probably burn a lot of calories because the training is all about working the muscles. Triathletes train to be efficient and unfortunately, we train are bodies to NOT burn a lot of calories. That is just part of the training so that we can race efficiently for 1,2, 5 or 12+ hours. We aren't training our bodies to race for 20 seconds, 2 minutes or even 3 minutes. However, with swimmers, most of the training is anaerobic and the supply of energy is limited. The 2000 calories worth of stored carbs in the muscles, that triathletes use during high intensity workouts is what swimmers use for almost the entire workout. Training for 2-hours a day for months and months and months is like the feeling of having to do an IM every week for a month straight. It is hard to properly fuel and the need to eat everything in site becomes normally. Therefore, most of the calories burned during a swim practice (which can easily be over 2000 calories in a 2-hour swim practice) need to be replaced whenever possible after practice. Also, swimming is a sport that really increases the appetite and with 2 a day practices, burning calories is a day long affire.
So, do I think Michael Phelps needs 12,000 calories a day? Well, if you break down 5 hours of swimming and an hour of dryland a day, I would guess he could easily burn over 10,000 calories a day with most of that being stored carbs...and very little stored fat (even though a lean person can use stored fat for fuel). Adding to his resting metabolic rate of over 2000 calories (I am guessing because of his muscle mass) he does need a lot of calories to swim like a fish. However, it is important that a high calorie diet is also a healthy diet for the body and the heart.
I do not believe that Phelps eats, or needs to eat, fried onion rings, eggs, mayo sandwiches and french toast (totalling 4000 calories a meal) everyday. This is the media playing up his diet because he is super lean and they probably compiled several of phelps favorite meals and put it together as a daily diet. Just like the Tour riders, I do think that Phelps eats a lot and just like any athlete, I'm sure he indulges and eats whatever he wants at times. But, he is just eating like a young male who has learned he can eat whatever he wants when he wants.
Now is this the right diet for him? Well, I can't debate about this because I am not swimming 17 races in the Olympics and shooting for 8 gold medals. However, I can look at the diets of other athletes, such as Dara Torres, Amanda Beard and Natalie Coughlin and I can see a lot more moderation with a combination of healthy meals that you and I would eat, in addition to some sweet treats that we all deserve due to our training.
If I were the nutrition coach of Phelps I would take out greasy, fatty and fried food. Too add in calories, he should simply do the opposite of what people do to lose weight. You add in juices, higher calorie whole grains, more calorie dense foods and of course a few sweet treats because, well, he can.
I believe if Phelps ate his typical 12,000 calories on a daily basis he would feel like crap and he would swim like crap. I think Phelps eats when he is hungry and stops when he is full. We know he needs to sleep at night, take naps and spend 5+ hours a day swimming (in addition to media stuff) and the body can only take in so much food before the stomach gets full. However, we don't know what his insides look like and an uncontrollable diet to feed the demands of swimming may work now but it would be interesting to see what changes he would need to make with his diet after he stops swimming. I will be happy to help you, Mr. Phelps, when you decide to make the transition from eating like a swimmer to eating like a "normal" person :)
I do think that performance is the ultimate goal when eating to fuel an Olympic swimmer but just like any individual, it is important to eat for health and longevity.
Well, that's all I have to say about that.


Interval Tuesday!

I am just pooped.

I woke up this morning anticipating a very hard run. 2 weeks until my olympic distance triathlon in Jacksonville (at camp blanding). I never thought this workout would be as hard as it was for 52 minutes. 52 minutes of sweating like crazy, my legs feeling like they will run away from me and breathing a bit heavier than I have in previous runs. But I loved every moment of it....well, now I do. At the moment...not so much. I kept asking myself "is this really what I have to do to get faster?" I think watching some recaps of the Olympics on the treadmill TV re-confirmed how hard you have to push your body if you want to see serious results.

I got the set from Karel's coach, Shawn, who owns Velocity Multisport coaching. He has some great blogs on his site
Shawn is training for Kona right now and putting in some serious hill work. Instead of doing the percent grades on the treadmill, I took some of his intervals and kinda made up my own set. Here is it:

10 min warm-up at 7.3 mph
5 x 40 sec pick-ups at 8.5 mph w/ 15 sec recovery

Main Set 3x's!!
1 min @ 9.5mph (5K pace)
2 min @ 8.9mph (10K pace)
3 min @ 8.5mph (HIM pace)
2 min walk @ 3.5mph (had to walk or else I would die)
2 min jog @ 7.5mph
Repeat set

5 x 40 sec pick-ups at 8.5 mph w/ 15 sec recovery
Total: 52 min, 6.5 miles

As you can see, there are NO rest breaks in the main set. That is why I had to walk after the set. I really thought I wouldn't get through the first set if I knew I had to keep running before the next set. The hardest part of the set was the 3 min @ 8.5mph. I kept looking at the time for each part of the main set and it was just an awful feeling when I would painfully see that I had 2:40 left at 8.5mph. But, I made it all and I feel a bit stronger.
I headed to the pool and did a short tempo swim. The yardage was short again but I will put in more time in the pool tomorrow morning.
500 warm-up
600 pace
300 pace
200 pace
100 pace
100 warm-down

Total: 1800 yards

As for the rest of my day, I will get some work done on the computer (did I mention I am LOVING not being in school right now!!!). Later today I take Karel to the airport for a clinic in Wisconsin at the Trek Corporation headquarters. He will be learning all about the new Treks, Trek concepts and other Trek stuff which will really help out his store. Maybe he will come back with some freebies as a WSD Trek madonne for me???? :)


You helped me reach my goals after you let me have big goals.
You told me to always be happy, even if it took a little more work than the easy way out.
You never questioned my ambitions and most of all you have always supported me. I LOVE YOU MOM AND I'M SO LUCKY TO HAVE THE BEST MOM EVER!!!

Being a spectator in Kona

Running the Ironman World championships...with me :)

Watching Karel's race with me

Entertaining Karel :)

A successful weekend...

Did I mention Karel got a new bike? No more Cervelo, moving on to Trek. He LOVES his super fast ride...the Trek Madone 5.2.

Of taking pictures. :)

Ok, so I guess I have some races to talk about.
Saturday morning I had a road race. Yes, you heard me right. My third weekend in a row of racing and my 2nd cycling road race in the past 3 weeks.
My race started at 7:30am and I think that made me a little less nervous. Since the race was 20 miles from our place and early in the morning, I kinda felt like it was just a morning of training. A morning of training with around 50 other guys and girls. The race was a combination of the 50+ men and all the women (cat 1,2,3 and 4). This was a big group but it actually made the race a lot more enjoyable. We averaged 25 mph for most of the race and there were a lot of attacks.
The course was around 6.5 miles and almost completely flat. I just loved it! What a difference compared to the GA races. There were 4 turns on the course and I felt a lot more confident with my sweeping turns. We did 6 loops to give us around 42 miles and with the words of my coach (karel) in my head "Stay on a wheel!!!" I ended up finishing with the pack. There was a small breakaway group of 4 people (2 girls, 2 guys) but we couldn't catch them. I even did some rotations and tried to stay in the front. Again, no sprinting legs for me so I finished with everyone, but 8th in the cat 4 group. I was still happy with my finish and I couldn't wait to watch Karel and the Linder Capital team. There are two new riders on the team (temporary riders from the Sweet Bay team) and the team is even stronger than before!
Since I don't have many opportunities to run after a bike race (except in a triathlon) I decided to put on my running shoes and go for a run. My legs were super tired and I took little breaks (to cheer of course) and I finished with a 40 min run. It was a great feeling to run right after pushing as hard as I could to the finish, whereas in a bike training ride, I usually end with an easy spin or warm-down.
So, after the 40 min run I drenched myself in water since I was burning up and super thirsy. I then headed to the feed zone so I could hand water bottles to the thirsty cyclists. The guys did 9 loops of the 6.5 course and every loop the field was changing. The finish was super exciting because Karel was in the breakaway group. Just like in all road races or crits, the team works together to cover attacks and make moves so that the strongest rider for the day (on the linder team) can try to get a win or a top place. It was Karel's turn on sat for the sprint to the finish. Karel's strength is sprinting and if it wasn't for a cramp in his leg, as he was sprinting, he may have taken the sprint for the win. But, Karel did get his highest finish for the year and placed 5th and brought back some money as well. The team did well and Karel was happy (and exhausted) with the race.

So, I passed on racing on sunday but I got in a great run in the morning. Not sure why I am putting in these long runs but I really enjoy seeing myself get stronger with each run. I ran 1:48 and felt great. Very hot and thirsty (even with my fuel belt) but I still enjoyed my hot run.
I passed on my spin post-run so that I could relax and eat my breakfast before we headed to the crit.
Again, it was super hot and I didn't think I would make it for Karel's race. I had shaky legs and I was SOOOOO hot and the races were running behind. But that is ok, I couldn't wait to take pictures of the guys. The team did great once again but this time the team worked together for a win. Curtis won the race (and the 35+ race as well) and the team also had 2 other guys in the top 6!
Karel and some of the other guys covered attacks so that the chase group wouldn't catch the breakaway group (curtis and shawn) and Karel said the team really worked well together. Sounds good to me!!
Well, back to watching the Olympics.