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Eating to Lose Weight and Build Muscle: How the NFL Does It

Your NFL Plate

For most NFL players, eating is a no-brainer. They've got nutritionists on staff, and during the season, they eat three meals a day in the team's cafeteria. If you're not a pro, you need to do the meal planning yourself, but you can incorporate elements from the NFL diet.

There's really no big secret to eating like an NFL pro. It's all about balance.

Your plate should look like this:

  • One-third lean protein (eggs, chicken, turkey, red meat)
  • One-third fruits and vegetables
  • One-third healthy carbs (whole-grain rice, pasta, or bread)

Crocker starts his day with a breakfast of turkey sausage and egg whites with tomatoes and spinach. Lunch is usually a grilled chicken sandwich with a mixed green salad, or sliced ham on wheat with applesauce. And dinner is lean protein -- chicken, pork, or beef -- with brown rice, steamed green beans, and a mixed green salad. If he's hungry between meals, he snacks on cereal bars or fresh fruit.

The bulk of your nutrition should come from what's on your plate. But if you're not getting enough vitamins and minerals from food alone, it's OK to take a daily supplement, Bonci says. Nutritional supplements can help you make up for what you're missing in your diet, but they shouldn't replace it.

"It's very important that the supplement remain a supplement," Livingstone says. "If supplements start to take over the diet, they're not doing their job." Supplements can't provide the same quality of vitamins and nutrients as whole foods like chicken, fruits, and vegetables.

Also, be wary of the specialized supplements marketed to athletes because they're not always safe. Some supplements that are used to increase athletic performance have been linked to side effects like high blood pressure, irregular heartbeat, dizziness, and nausea.

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Reviewed on September 07, 2010

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