Not everyone needs to eat 12,000 calories a day like Michael Phelps to perform at their best, but his notorious admission of what he consumed in order to be able to train six hours a day, six days a week, intrigued a majority of the population. His diet became an incessant focus on news shows, YouTube videos, and interviews. A video clip (below) during the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics touched on not just caloric differences for athletes but also nutrient make-up differences for their best performance. Where swimmers need an extraordinary amount of carbohydrates for prolonged workouts, gymnasts focus their diets on lean proteins and vegetables. Although logic tells us energy expenditure dictates necessary caloric intake, one thing that’s been obvious during my years counseling clients is that even though people are fascinated with athlete’s diets, they rarely know what their own caloric demands are.[youtube]http://youtu.be/QXRvXtcSu14[/youtube]
As a native Texan I was weaned on football, and many of my strongest memories are associated with champions of the gridiron – both collegiate and professional. SMU Legend and Hall of Famer Eric Dickerson, and Dallas Cowboys Hall of Fame quarterback (and my namesake) Roger Staubach inspired me throughout my years as a young athlete. In fact, they both have been partially responsible for encouraging my interest in pursuing a career in sports and nutrition. So as a tribute to the start of the 2013 NFL football season and my favorite professional team the Dallas Cowboys (a.k.a. America’s Team) I’ve illustrated below the various caloric needs for five of its players.
DeMarcus Ware #94, Defensive End (@DeMarcusWare) Height: 6’4” Weight: 254 lbs Caloric needs: 5,000-5,800 per day I chose DeMarcus Ware not only for his incredibly physical performance on the field, i.e. hitting and getting hit every play, but he is my wife’s favorite player and I would be in hot water if I didn’t mention him! His level of physical performance during a game and practice requires him to train at an extremely high level year-round to keep his body in shape to recover from the abuse of constant collisions and contact.
Cole Beasley #11, Wide Receiver (@Bease11) Height: 5’8” Weight: 180 lbs Caloric needs: 3,400-3,600 per day Cole Beasley has quickly become one of my favorite players, not just because he hails from my beloved alma mater SMU (@SMUMustangs), but because he was told over and over he was too small to play football. Cole’s position at Wide Receiver demands a lot of energy, but due to his stature, Cole doesn’t require as many calories as many of his wide receiver counterparts.
Tony Romo #9, Quarterback Height: 6’2” Weight: 230 Caloric needs: 4,000-4,200 per day An NFL quarterback doesn’t expend the same amount of energy as a player running 20 yards down field every play, he’s on the field more than any other player during a game which creates a rather substantial energy expenditure that his caloric intake requirements must match to optimize offensive executions.
Doug Free #68, Offensive Lineman Height: 6’6” Weight: 325 lbs Caloric needs: 6,000-7,000 per day It’s no surprise that offensive lineman have big appetites – they need to. They are often the largest members on the team and spend the most time in the weight room to maintain strength and size. Their caloric expenditure is high because of the sheer amount of calories needed to fuel a 300-plus pound athlete for 60 or more plays per game.
Dan Bailey #5, Kicker (@DanBailey95) Height: 6’ Weight: 191 lbs Caloric needs: 3,600-3,900 per day Specialty players like kickers aren’t on the field that often or for very long, and their training regimens don’t need to be nearly as strenuous as their teammates’.
*Caloric estimates based on the Harris-Benedict equation with appropriate activity factors.
People (professional athletes, weekend warriors, office linebackers, armchair quarterbacks, and couch potatoes) have different needs and dietary requirements to meet their potentials. While you may be at the top of your profession, unless you’re required to wear 15-20 lbs of equipment and run up and down a grassy field knocking people over, you don’t have the same caloric needs as the football players mentioned above (no matter how many times you get up for a snack and/or jump up and down). So whether you bleed Cowboy Blue and Silver like me, or can’t stomach the thought of a Cowboys win, I welcome your interest in how to create your own performance plan.
eat right. be fit. live well.