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Michael Phelps of the U.S. smiles as he listens to reporter's questions during a news conference in the Olympic media centre before the start of the London 2012 Olympics,  July 26, 2012. (Kai Pfaffenbach/Reuters)

Michael Phelps of the U.S. smiles as he listens to reporter's questions during a news conference in the Olympic media centre before the start of the London 2012 Olympics,  July 26, 2012.

(Kai Pfaffenbach/Reuters)

Want to eat like Michael Phelps? Come hungry Add to ...

I eat the two ham-and-cheese sandwiches and drink two Gatorades while out on a friend's boat, which surprisingly is not heeling to the side I'm sitting on. When I get home, I eat the pound of enriched pasta with tomato sauce, which works out to be three heaping platefuls.

Starting my third plate, I'm forced to ponder a question I've never faced at a meal in my entire life: Am I having hot flashes? A strange sensation of heat is emanating from the pit of my stomach and working its way up through my shoulders. This can't be good.

Just before the clock strikes 9 p.m., I've consumed in 12 hours almost the same caloric intake I would normally eat over the course of three days. The mouth breathing continues. I have to lie down on the couch.

It's only a mix of what willpower I have left and the sheer terror of eating dinner that forces me out of the house to go running again. My 30-minute run burns just 562 calories. I feel like an over-stuffed sausage.

DINNER

What, no dessert? I'm surprised the guy doesn't finish off the day with 16 quarts of double-churned chocolate ice cream topped with an M&M the size of a country ham.

Still, the carb-heavy menu would have most South Beach dieters making the cross with their index fingers in horror.

OK, throw that pizza in the oven, and let's do this. While the pizza cooks, I turn on the TV and see the U.S. Men's Olympic swim team - fit, trim, healthy as oxen, none of them looking like they would cry like a toddler at the sight of another plate of spaghetti. I don't even bother cooking the pasta.

I manage to drink three Gatorades. After you've been eating all day, each big chug of an energy drink feels like a mouthful of pot roast. I decide to eat only as much of the pizza as I can. I make it halfway through. As I look at the other half, my girlfriend looks at me as if she will never find me attractive ever again if I so much as try to cram just one more piece of pepperoni into my gullet.

I need to lie down.

As I collapse on the couch, Phelps wins his eighth gold medal. My awe for him has tripled.

If he ever retires from swimming, he could make a killing at those competitive eating contests. That hot dog guy's got nothing on him.

I've spent an entire day pushing myself to the limits of intestinal explosion and I still fell short one fried-egg sandwich, two chocolate-chip pancakes, a bowl of grits, a five-egg omelette, a pound of pasta, half a pizza and more than four litres of Gatorade. I feel humbled and crestfallen, the way you do when forced to confront your limitations.

I wonder if I will spring out of bed tomorrow ready to run a marathon, or if I will hide under the covers in fear, trembling at the prospect of eating again. Both seem like distinct possibilities.

Michael Phelps now has 14 gold medals from two Olympics, the all-time record.

He should bring me one of those medals just for eating what I did today. But I'd settle for a bucket.

By the numbers

12,000

Number of calories consumed

by Michael Phelps a day

37

Total weight, in pounds, of that food (including packaging)

2,000

Number of calories

consumed by the average

23-year-old male a day

The Phelps diet

Breakfast

three fried-egg sandwiches with lettuce, tomato, cheese, fried onions and mayonnaise

two cups of coffee

one five-egg omelette

one bowl of grits

three slices of French toast sprinkled with powdered sugar

three chocolate-chip pancakes

Lunch

one pound of enriched pasta

two large ham-and-cheese sandwiches on white bread

with mayo

1,000 calories of energy drinks (or about 6½ 591-millilitre

Gatorades)

Dinner

one pound of enriched pasta

one large pizza

1,000 calories of energy drinks

TOTAL CALORIES: 12,000

WORKOUTS

5 hours of training ( Morning pool workout,

afternoon pool workout, dry land training)

CALORIES BURNED: 12,000*

DAVE MCGINN

Breakfast

Two cups of coffee

Three pieces of French toast

One pancake ( chocolate chip)

Two fried-egg sandwiches ( with lettuce, tomato, cheese, mayo and fried onions)

One bite of Cream of Wheat

Lunch

Two large ham-and-cheese sandwiches ( with mayo)

Two Gatorades

One pound of enriched pasta with tomato sauce

Dinner

Half a pizza

Three Gatorades

TOTAL CALORIES: 6,500

WORKOUTS

4.25 hours of exercise ( Yoga, pushups/ crunches, jogging, swimming)

CALORIES BURNED: 4,900*

* Includes calories burned during everyday activity

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