Feeding the Beasts: NFL Training Camp Nutrition
Throughout his career, Indianapolis Colts head strength coach Jon Torine has stressed the importance of providing the body with the proper fuel. Eating right does more than help athletes maintain a healthy lifestyle. Providing the body with the proper fuel influences every area of an athlete's training.
Torine's plan of attack for players like Peyton Manning, Dwight Freeney and Reggie Wayne involved more than just a detailed food list. It included finding each individual's resting metabolic rate and prescribing a macronutrient ratio and calorie total that would help him reach his specific goals. Below is an example of a chart Torine provides to his NFL linemen during training camp.
Proper fueling helps an athlete improve his overall body composition, maintain superior athletic performance and enhance his ability to recover from exercise and competition. From a performance standpoint, good nutrition habits carry over to maintaining an optimum percentage of body fat, which helps athletes in terms of speed, change of direction and explosive ability.
Daily nutrition comes from three main sources: carbohydrates, proteins and fats. Carbohydrates are the main source of energy for muscles and the brain; protein provides the building blocks for new muscle and tissue cells; and fat plays a key role in nerve and brain function as well as regulating hormones in the body.
Here are some NFL training camp meal options that Torine has his team of chefs prepare for his athletes.
Keep in mind that these sample meals are for NFL athletes during training camp. If you're looking for a base plan for how many calories you need to consume to reach your goals, use the following chart, developed by another NFL team nutritionist whom I have worked with in the past. These guidelines apply to athletes in all sports.
As an athlete gets closer to his target weight, he can move his calorie needs within a range appropriate for achieving his current goal—e.g., as a 200-pound athlete whose goal is to add pounds gains weight, he can move from taking in 25 calories/lb. to closer to 19 calories/lb).