Arizona Cardinals CB Patrick Peterson is on a roll. He has made the Pro Bowl every season since being drafted in 2011, and he’s the cornerstone of a Cardinals defense that has blossomed into an elite unit. Getting to the top is one thing, but staying there is another thing altogether. We caught up with Peterson at Super Bowl XLIX to find out how he maintains his elite play.
Fueling Up the Ferrari
Peterson is quick to admit that the success he experienced during his playing days at Blanche Ely High School in Pompano Beach, Florida, had little to do with his nutrition. “Back then, I used to eat whatever I wanted. Chicken and shrimp alfredo, burgers, fried chicken every other night,” he recalls with a laugh. “That’s like putting 87 octane into a Ferrari. It just isn’t going to run right.”
Now, Peterson knows better. He says, “I’m eating lamb chops, pork chops, Brussel sprouts, asparagus, things like that. It works wonders. Now I have such a better understanding of my body and what to put in it.”
Peterson has actually gone through the process of testing how his body reacts to different foods. Using blood tests, he has been able to pinpoint what foods his body can digest easily and which ones it has trouble with. He quickly found out that one of his favorite foods wasn’t doing his body any favors. “I’m a huge steak fan, but I found that steak just wasn’t sitting right. I was having trouble digesting it,” Peterson says. So the lockdown corner made a smart substitution, swapping bison to replace beef in his diet.
“The bison has been unbelievable. I can digest it so much faster than a ribeye or something like that,” Peterson says. Bison is a fantastic food for athletes, because it’s significantly lower than most red meats in fat and calories, yet higher in protein.
Cramping His Style
Even though he’s a former LSU Tiger, Peterson is a huge fan of Gatorade. “Gatorade is something I’ve used religiously. I use it through the day, around my workouts. And it just keeps getting better and better as the years go on, with the hydration and the electrolytes. It helps me refuel when I’m out on the field doing my thing. They’ve even got low-cal Gatorade now; stuff like that is huge,” he says.
A Gatorade product helped Peterson beat a nagging cramping issue he experienced during college. In 2010, he missed time in a string of important games due to cramping. He tried several solutions to no avail. But he found his answer in Gatorade’s Gatorlytes, an “electrolyte powder blend specifically formulated for cramp-prone athletes.” They helped him stay on the field during those crunch-time series. “What really helped was those Gatorlyte packets. You could put them into the water or into the Gatorade and it was a higher concentration of electrolytes. That’s something I’ve been using, and it’s been working well,” Peterson says.
The Harder You Train, The Easier the Game
Peterson takes a unique approach to the off-season, putting himself through hell so he can more easily endure the grind of the regular NFL season. It has worked—Peterson has yet to miss a single start in his NFL career (65 games and counting).
“I put my body through so much just to get prepared for the season. The season’s so long, it’s brutal,” Peterson says. “I try to do things in the off-season that I can’t during the season. I try to put my body in strange conditions, like pool workouts or boxing or CrossFit or running up Camelback Mountain [a 2,706-foot elevation mountain in Phoenix, Arizona].” Peterson likes to put his body in positions it’s unfamiliar with, so he can get comfortable being uncomfortable. He says, “All those different things do something to my body that it’s not used to, and they help make it easy for me during the season.”
When he does take a breather, Peterson likes to kick back with video games. He recently won this year’s edition of the Madden Bowl, an annual tournament that pits NFL players against each other to see who reigns supreme on the sticks. Peterson bested LeSean McCoy, last year’s Madden Bowl champ, in the final game. “I’m a big gamer. Madden was always my all-time favorite,” Peterson says.
Check out Patrick Peterson’s yoga workout.