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Not anymore. It’s football season. So if you’re hanging out with anyone from the NFL, know that a fully loaded burger is probably off-limits; the ones they’re eating are unadorned and bunless. (And quite possibly vegan.) Any shakes these players are drinking undoubtedly have the word “protein” attached.
Herewith, a look at some of the notable diets of a few football stars.
NY Giants punter Steve Weatherford
He’s said to be the Giants’ strongest player, pound for pound: At only 5.5 percent body fat, he can bench press almost 400 pounds. (You’ll see how ripped he is in this Bleacher Report picture).
Weatherford told the New York Times about his diet: “About 200 grams of protein a day (the FDA’s daily recommendation is 50 grams for a 2,000-calorie diet), loading up on scrambled egg whites, bunless turkey burgers and lean-ground-beef lasagna. If he and his wife go to a swanky restaurant, he often eats beforehand, then has a salad, ‘While my wife —who is 5-7, 110 pounds and works out like twice a year—crushes a steak,’ Weatherford says. ‘She’s amazing.’” His biggest temptation is supposedly “a loaded hamburger from Red Robin.”
Minnesota Vikings offensive tackle Matt Kalil
Kalil has the enviable task of having to gain weight (his target is 315 pounds). On his 5,000-something calorie-a-day diet, he told the Pioneer Press that his daily intake includes three meals of lean meat, pasta and sweet potatoes, plus three snacks, usually PB&J sandwiches. His emergency food is a Chipotle burrito.
Key to Kalil’s weight-gain diet are three high-calorie shakes a day, clocking in at 60 grams of protein apiece. Kalil says that when he’s done with football, he’ll stop power eating. “If I wasn’t playing football, I’d probably be about 220. Plus, I’d probably be living in California, so I’d go for that beach bod.”
Houston Texans running back Arian Foster
Last year, Foster took a lot of flak for choosing a vegan diet, which frustrated him: “Everybody cares what I eat now,” he said. “Everybody is a nutritionist and they’re an expert on protein.” His plant-based diet included oatmeal and fruit for breakfast; vegetables, potatoes and rice for lunch; and vegetables, quinoa and kale for dinner.
He also Tweeted in support of his diet: “People say I can’t be a vegan. But all [Super] Mario ate was flowers and mushrooms and look how big and strong he was. Plus he could spit fireballs.”
This year, Foster is getting flak again, this time for not being strictly vegan and for eating the occasional chicken breast: “I’m not in a cult. Nothing’s going to happen to me. I just wanted a piece of chicken. It wasn’t like temptation. I felt like I could use one.”
Atlanta Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez
Another lapsed vegan is Gonzalez, who now eats meat again, but sparingly. Of his vegan diet, he told the San Francisco Chronicle: “I think it helps a lot. It helps you bounce back. It helps you last longer when you’re in the game. I still eat a lot of fish, a little bit of chicken, that’s what I stick to. No dairy, no cheese.”
If Gonzalez eats red meat, it’s only once or twice a month. “I definitely try to eat clean and eat healthy, plenty of fruits and vegetables, lentils, grains, and I can definitely feel the difference. There’s no doubt about it. It makes me have more endurance. It helps me focus and helps me recover faster. I don’t see why more guys don’t do it. It’s mind-boggling that more guys haven’t adopted that kind of living in the NFL.” His favorite dish: a slice of vegan banana bread with soy whipped cream.
Detroit Lions running back Montell Owens
Look, another part-time vegan running back. Owens felt really good, “cleaner,” after becoming a vegan following his 2010 season. (The switch was a result of his wife reading The Thrive Diet, by vegan triathlete Brendan Brazier.) But a strength coach told him, “You’re too small. You look like a wide receiver,” so Owens added fish back to his diet. “It’s more calorie-dense,” he says. “You’re eating the same size of salmon or shrimp as you would vegetables, but you’re getting twice the calories and protein.”
St. Louis Rams quarterback Sam Bradford
Here’s a man who is extremely superstitious about his eating. “I’m a big routine guy,” says Bradford. “I have to have everything in threes. At the restaurant that we’d go to on Thursdays [before high school games], we’d always have the same waitress and she’d always bring us three peppermints. One night we didn’t have that waitress and we didn’t get any peppermints. I had to tell my buddy, ‘Listen: you have got to tell our waitress that she has to bring three peppermints over here and bring me a to-go iced tea. That’s the routine.’ I just didn’t want to break the routine. On game day, if I eat fruit – I usually eat fruit in the mornings – I have to have three pieces of cantaloupe, three pieces of pineapple. Everything’s in threes.”