Michael Phelps ate a lot in his prime while training for the Olympics. According to news reports, Phelps would partake in a 12,000-calorie daily diet.

That's a figure Phelps disputed Thursday as ironically he promoted a brand of beef jerky. The number isn't off by that much, but the difference is still the equivalent of a day's worth of food for many adults.

"I always looked at my body as a car," Phelps says. "As a high-performance car, you obviously want the best fuel going into that car that's going to help you perform your best. That's just what I did. I think you went from the 12,000 ... the 12,000-calorie diet that everyone wrote about. Don't believe everything you read. The stories were just ridiculous. I was probably eating anywhere between like eight and ten, probably at my peak, where I was really growing. It became a job just because we're fluctuating weight so much when we're training. For me, I'm at that point right now where I'm trying to get back into a decent shape. I'm making sure I'm eating what I need, not sometimes, what I always want."

The 12,000-calorie diet legend began around the time of Phelps' eight-gold-medal run at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, per a report in the New York Post. Outlets such as The Wall Street Journal, Fox News and ABC News picked up on the number. An alleged daily meal schedule was published and the story grew. For the record, ESPN and WebMD stuck to their guns, saying Phelps was on an 8,000-10,000-calorie diet.

Now retired with 28 Olympic medals (23 gold), Phelps is just scoffing at the story. He used air-quotes when saying, "12,000-calorie diet." He's tired of this, dare we call it, "fake news?"

Phelps, a spokesman for Krave beef jerky, was in New York City to promote two new flavors -- honey habanero chicken and pink peppercorn beef -- while speaking on a panel that also included Lang Whitaker (NBA.com, NBA TV, GQ). The event took place at The Golf Club at Chelsea Piers, where Phelps, an avid golfer, also hit the driving range.

-- Follow Jeff Eisenband on Twitter @JeffEisenband. Like Jeff Eisenband on Facebook.

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