Healthy lifestyle of an NFL athlete

Healthy lifestyle of an NFL athlete

The NFL is one of the most athletically demanding sports in the world. Despite the regular season only lasting around 3-4 months with 17 games, the physical toll it takes on the players mean that they are truly pushing themselves to the limit in that time. Some of the big hits that players take also means they can get banged up week in, week out so must take care of themselves to aide recovery.

The reason many players produce consistently and help your NFL fantasy teams is due to their dedication to a healthy lifestyle. Their diet and training regimen is planned and followed meticulously according to their specific needs.

Diet is of course one of the most important factors of an NFL player’s lifestyle. Many players will typically eat 5-6 meals throughout the day. However, depending on their unique needs, these diet’s will differ and thus they develop unique plans. Across the board though, they require a diet that is high in protein, healthy fats, and complex carbohydrates.

Protein is maybe the most important of these macronutrients. It helps to build and repair tissues, produce enzymes and hormones, and bolster the immune system. The wear and tear that players experience throughout a season means that taking in protein is crucial to helping their muscles recover. Some of the biggest sources of protein are chicken, eggs, beef, nuts and pulses. Pre and post workouts are also supplemented by things like protein shakes and bars.

The average daily caloric intake of NFL player’s is also significantly higher than the recommended daily intake (2000 for women, 2500 for men). This is because they burn far more calories than the average adult due to their rigorous training and playing schedules. For this reason they are likely to eat around 4000 calories. This can go as high as 6000 however depending on factors such as their metabolism or even their specific position. For example, offensive lineman must maintain their huge frame compared to say, a wide receiver. For this reason, they are going to need to eat a lot more calories.

One of the biggest misconceptions about the diet of an athlete is that carbs are bad, which could not be further from the truth. In fact, they are extremely important. Football players need high levels of aerobic and anaerobic fitness. They would use their anaerobic system for short bursts of high-intensity activity, such as sprinting or tackling. The aerobic system is used for more sustained activity, such as running up and down the field. The fuel required to do this relies heavily on carbohydrates. Foods such as pasta, bread and whole grains are a great source of this

Many players will even take part in the dietary practice ‘carb loading’ to maximize glycogen stores, so athletes can go at a higher intensity for a longer amount of time. To achieve this, they consume larger amounts of carbohydrate at meals and snacks up to 1-3 days prior to competing.

There are a lot of nuances in the training routines of NFL teams and specific players, dependant on the playing schedules and individual needs. On average though, players will train for around three and four hours every day during the season. It is tough to nail down exactly what their routine would be as there will be a mixture of aerobic/anaerobic training along with more technical training e.g formations, route running etc. However, it is safe to assume that individually, they will be in the weight room, on the running machine, swimming etc around 4-5 times a week. Rest is also a huge factor though and every player must allow their bodies to rejuvenate especially after games.

It is also important to note that whilst a decent amount of the offseason will be spent resting their bodies after a gruelling season, they do not simply down tools. They must make sure they remain fit and ready to return to their training camps and preseason schedules come summer time.

Offseason or not, it goes without saying that being an NFL player is a full time job. It becomes even more apparent just how elite these athletes are when you take into consideration how small the chances of making it to the NFL are. There are 1,093,234 high school football players in the United States, and 6.5% of those high school players (or 71,060) will play in college. Of that pool, just 1.2% will make it to the NFL. To get there is hard enough work on its own but to then maintain that level and stay there is a whole different ballgame, pardon the pun. The intricacies of their diets and training are of the utmost importance, integral to their success and growth as a professional athlete.

Anna Daniels

Anna is an avid blogger with an educational background in medicine and mental health. She is a generalist with many other interests including nutrition, women's health, astronomy and photography. In her free time from work and writing, Anna enjoys nature walks, reading, and listening to jazz and classical music.

Post Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.