NFL Linebacker's Diet Used to Include Pasta Topped With 7 Packets of Sugar

Denver Broncos linebacker Shaquil Barrett improved his diet and is making an impact on the field.

Sugar on Spaghetti

There's nothing wrong with adding a bit of salt and pepper to your food every now and again. But those common spices were apparently not enough for Denver Broncos rookie linebacker Shaquil Barrett. Nope, Barrett used to season his meals with something quite different—pure sugar.

In a new article in the MMQB, Barrett discussed how bad his diet was when he was in college. At Colorado State, Barrett's go-to meals were fast food and, rather bizarrely, sugar-soaked pasta.

"In college I put sugar on my spaghetti or lasagna," Barrett told the MMQB. "I think I used to put like seven packs of sugar on spaghetti to make it taste edible."

An average-sized packet at a restaurant or coffee house contains 4 grams of sugar, so Barrett was dumping 28 grams on his pasta—about the equivalent of five packs of Smarties.

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Despite his poor nutrition, Barrett dominated in college, piling up 20.5 tackles for loss as a senior. However, the diet wreaked havoc on his physique. He was 6-foot-1, 250-pounds with 24 percent body fat. When the 2014 NFL Draft rolled around, his poor body composition scared teams off. The Broncos ultimately signed him on as an undrafted free agent.

When Barrett got to Denver, he hooked up with the team nutritionist and made some serious dietary changes. He began eating foods like chicken, turkey sausage, egg-beaters, oatmeal, fish and salads, which he supplemented with two protein shakes per day. He spent last season on the Broncos practice squad, honing his skills and transforming his body to make it NFL-ready.

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Fast forward to 2015. This year, Barrett is making a serious impact with Denver's top-ranked defense. He's down to 11 percent body fat and he feels more explosive than ever. Despite playing on only 41.2 percent of Denver's defensive snaps, he has managed to force four fumbles and rack up 3.5 sacks. With players like DeMarcus Ware, Von Miller and Shane Ray, the depth chart at outside linebacker is crowded in Denver; but don't be surprised if Barrett continues to make waves during the second half of the season and into the playoffs. As long as he stays off sugary spaghetti, the sky's the limit.


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