In his autobiography, Below the Surface, 2008 Olympic swimming sensation Michael Phelps says, “I eat pretty much whatever I want.” Apart from items such as fried-egg-and-cheese sandwiches, chocolate chip pancakes or five-egg omelettes for breakfast, half a kilo of enriched pasta or two large ham-and-cheese sandwiches with mayonnaise (lunch) or pasta with carbonara sauce and a large pizza for dinner, he also loves junk food, especially McDonald’s Big Mac hamburgers.
According to nutritionists, Phelps can eat this diet because he trains five hours a day, six days a week. His metabolism – the process of converting food into energy – is very different from an average man’s. While he’s training, he burns 1,000 calories per hour. An average male adult who, like Phelps, consumed 12.000 calories daily would gain three pounds (1.4 kilos) a day. Nutritionists also say that Phelps, who is 1.93 metres tall and weighs 85 kilos, could improve his diet by including some fruit or salad.
Contrary to the copious breakfasts eaten by Phelps and also to the advice of experts, who say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, Usain Bolt, the world’s fastest man, told a reporter that he didn’t have any breakfast at all on the day he won his 100-metre gold medal. But reports say that after he won his medal, the Jamaican athlete (1.93 metres tall and 86 kilos in weight) went to celebrate at McDonald’s. Maybe he met Michael Phelps there. The American fast-food company must be very happy with all the publicity it’s been receiving. It sounds like fast food equals fast man. But only in some cases, of course!
1. Write a summary of the text in English, including the most important points, using your own words whenever possible (maximum 50 words).
The text talks about the eating habits of some athletes. Michael Phelps eats everything he wants, including junk food. He can do this because he trains 5 hours a day and burns up a lot of calories. Usain Bolt also eats fast food, although, contrary to the advice of nutritionists, he doesn’t have big breakfasts.
2. Find words or phrases in the text that correspond in meaning to the words and definitions given here.
3. Complete the second sentence of each pair so that it has the same meaning as the first one.
- a) Phelps says, “I eat pretty much whatever I want”
- Phelps said that he could eat pretty much whatever he wanted.
- b) Phelps could improve his diet by including some fruit or salad.
- Phelps could improve his diet if he included some fruit or salad.
- c) Contrary to the copious breakfasts eaten by Phelps ….
- Contrary to the copious breakfasts which Phelps eats …
- d) Maybe he met Michael Phelps there.
4. Answer the following questions in your own words.
- a) Why do you think Phelps’ autobiography is called Below the Surface?
- I think it is probably called Below the Surface because Phelps is a swimmer, and thetitle refers to the sport he practices, which is done under the water.
- b) Why can’t a normal person follow the same diet as Michael Phelps without getting fat?
5. Write a letter to a friend who is getting a bit fat telling him/her what to do in order to lose weight. Consider both diet and exercise. (Approximately 120 words).
So you tell me you’re putting on weight! That’s probably because, now you’re so busy studying for your exams, you don’t do enough exercise. I expect you spend all day sitting in front of your books, which really isn’t healthy. I would advise you to take an hour’s break every day and go out for a walk with your dog, or cycling, or running or something. This will be very good for you physically, and will also help you clear your mind so that you concentrate better afterwards.
If you don’t do this, you’ll just have to give up eating things like chocolate, biscuits, potatoes, bread, pasta, and above all, junk food. But life without these things is so miserable ….
Write and tell me what you decide,
All the best,