During the Olympics there was a lot of talk about the number of calories and type of calories that Michael Phelps eats on a daily basis. Everyone from the professionals to the punters seemed to have an opinion on whether or not is was good or bad for Phelps, meanwhile he was rushing up to the podium to collect yet another Olympic medal to add to his enormous collection!
The equation here is very simple. Phelps and all Olympic athletes have goals based on ultimate performance. Will Phelps maintain this kind of eating for the rest of his life? No of course not but what it does in the short term is fuels him towards his goals.
What you have to be clear on is what your goal is. 70% of people that I speak to these days have goals based on looking and feeling good, these are awesome goals and they are what I would consider goals where health is of the utmost importance and therefore the nutrition protocol they should be following is a very health conscious one which would include low sugar, low starch and low bad fat levels as this is going to deliver sustained health. A good training protocol will take them to their "feel good, look good" destination.
Take the other end of the specturm and the rising 30% of people that come to me and these people are motivated by performance, they want to be able to do something to a certain intensity within a certain time frame and need to use any and every source out there to make this come to life. Their need for extra calories may be higher, they understand that there may be short term health risks in what they are doing but their performance goal overrides this as it is not for the long term.
We are often caught in this war of eating for performance and eating for health but disregard our objectives. I have done extensive experimentation on both and I can tell you that when I was training at a high intensity 3 times a day 5 days a week and fueling with a very clean diet I was just not getting enough calories and my performance suffered. Yes sure I was 4% body fat but my goal was different. Following the same training demands but increasing calories and the food they were obtained from delivered far different results.
So get your goals in check and based on these you will be able to decide how your eating and caloric intake should look. Understand the difference between performance and health as it's a major factor which is often overlooked.