These are Donald Trump’s, uh, unorthodox views on diet and exercise

The picture of athletic perfection.
The picture of athletic perfection.
Image: Reuters/David Moir
We may earn a commission from links on this page.

In 2015, during his presidential campaign, Donald Trump’s personal doctor, Harold Bornstein, declared that “If elected, Mr. Trump, I can state unequivocally, will be the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency.”

That bold proclamation will be put to the test today when Trump, the oldest person ever elected president, has his first medical checkup as president at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland. The White House physician who also examined and treated Barack Obama will oversee the physical and give the post-exam readout.

The doctor might have something to say about Trump’s atypical views on diet, exercise, and lifestyle.

Trump’s diet

  • A recent book co-authored by Corey Lewandowski, Trump’s former campaign manager, revealed Trump had “four major food groups during the campaign: McDonald’s, Kentucky Fried Chicken, pizza, and Diet Coke.” He also enjoys a well-done steak, doused in ketchup.
  • It’s been reported that Trump drinks as many as 12 Diet Cokes per day. The president even has a little red button on his desk to summon a White House butler to bring him more when he runs out, despite his public critique of the soda in 2009:
  • Trump was especially fond of McDonald’s meals during the campaign; his dinner order usually consisted of “two Big Macs, two Fillet-O-Fish, and a chocolate malted,” according to Lewandowski’s book. (That’s 2,430 calories in a single meal, just under the recommended amount for an adult male in an entire day.)
  • Trump’s campaign jet was constantly stocked (paywall) with potato chips, pretzels, Vienna Finger cookies, and many packages of Oreos. (Trump, a well-known germaphobe, will not eat from a previously opened package.)
  • Lewandowski also noted that “the orchestrating and timing of Mr. Trump’s meals was as important as any other aspect of his march to the presidency.” He goes on to explain how campaign staffers would artfully arrange Trump’s fast-food feasts to be delivered to his plane right as it was departing campaign rallies.
  • According to Michael Wolff’s new book, Fire and Fury, the president prefers fast food because he thinks there’s less chance of anyone tampering with the meal: “He had a longtime fear of being poisoned, one reason why he liked to eat at McDonald’s—nobody knew he was coming and the food was safely premade,” according to an excerpt.

Trump on exercise

  •  Trump doesn’t put much stock in regular exercise. ‘‘All my friends who work out all the time, they’re going for knee replacements, hip replacements—they’re a disaster,’’ he told the New York Times (paywall) in 2015, arguing that conducting rallies and standing in front of an audience for an hour as good as a full workout.
  • In a 2016 book by Washington Post reporters Mike Kranisch and Marc Fisher, they wrote about Trump’s strange and completely unfounded “battery theory” of human energy: president Trump believes that “the human body was like a battery, with a finite amount of energy, which exercise only depleted.”
  • When Trump learned that one of his top casino executives, John O’Donnell, was training for an Ironman triathlon, he warned that that O’Donnell was “going to die young because of this.”
  • The president has spent 91 days of the first year of his presidency at Trump golf properties, according to an NBC tracker.  But don’t mistake his love of sport for a love of athletics; the president is known to zoom around in a golf cart wherever he pleases, preferring convenience over everything, often to the point of absurdity:

Trump’s day to day

  • One good thing about Trump’s lifestyle: He doesn’t drink alcohol or smoke, and never has in his life. It’s something he learned from his older brother Fred, who had a “very, very tough life because of alcohol” and who died from addiction at the age of 43.
  • As noted above, Trump is a huge germaphobe. He tries to minimize physical contact with others won’t let White House staff touch anything in his room, “especially not his toothbrush,” according to Fire and Fury. Trump is so paranoid that he reportedly scolded housekeeping for picking his shirt up off the floor: “If my shirt is on the floor, it’s because I want it on the floor.”
  • In a February 2017 interview with Fox News’s Bill O’Reilly, the president revealed he typically gets four to five hours of sleep per night. Sleeping less than seven to eight hours is a habit is only healthy for around 1% of the population, according to a Wall Street Journal report on the ”sleepless elite“ (paywall).
  • For his part, Trump credits his sleep habits for allowing him to stay ahead of the competition:”How does somebody that’s sleeping 12 and 14 hours a day compete with someone that’s sleeping three or four?” he asked in a 2009 interview.

The physical comes amid growing questions from critics (and some allies) about the president’s physical and mental health. In December, observers wondered if Trump’s speech was slurred when he acknowledged Jerusalem as the Israel’s capital. And after Fire and Fury quoted White House officials questioning the president’s mental capacity, Trump took to Twitter to defend himself as a “very stable genius“  who was “like, really smart.”

Despite the focus on his mental state, the checkup won’t include a psychiatric exam; the White House wouldn’t confirm if the president would undergo additional cognitive testing for  impairment or dementia. (Trump’s father, Fred, developed Alzheimer’s disease in his 80s, so a test wouldn’t be out of the question).

The president is a private citizen, so only he has the authority to decide what information will be made public. However, the White House has hinted it will keep in line with the medical disclosures of previous administrations, likely mentioning the president’s height, weight, blood pressure, and cholesterol level.