Here’s What an NFL Lineman Eats to Keep His Weight Up

By Mike Pomranz |

Photo Composite: © iStockphoto / Newscast / Alamy

For most of us, weighing 300 pounds would be a nightmare. But for an NFL lineman, it’s a job requirement.

Sports Illustrated’s The MMQB blog recently spoke with Nick Hardwick, a pro football player who retired last year after 11 seasons as a center with the San Diego Chargers. At his retirement press conference, the formerly nearly 300-pound Hardwick raised some eyebrows when he showed up at a relatively svelte 225 pounds.

Some hypothesized that the center had been on steroids or some other performance enhancer. Hardwick was hurt and fired back with another answer. “I knew what I went through to get to that point. It wasn’t like I was 300 pounds of muscle before. I had fat on me,” he was quoted as saying. In an even more revealing moment, Hardwick described his weight thusly: “I was disgusting.”

So how does someone like Hardwick, who wrestled in the 171-pound weight class in high school, get to 300 pounds? What The MMQB reported on his diet for a single day is almost mind-blowing:

“During his 4:45 a.m. drive to the Chargers’ facility, he consumed a 600-calorie protein shake and a bar that packed 20 grams of protein. After working out, he grabbed a 300-calorie Gatorade protein shake. After showering, he hit up the cafeteria to get a large smoothie ‘with everything imaginable in it’—plus five eggs, sausage and 32 ounces of whole milk. He would snack on a bag of mixed nuts while watching film. Two or three hours into meetings, he’d down a 700-calorie protein shake. After practice, another protein shake. Lunch in the cafeteria meant a big salad, with as much protein as possible piled on top.

 “Dinner was always a normal meal—meat, potatoes and vegetables—with normal portion sizes. ‘I didn’t want to drag my wife down with me,’ he says. But 90 minutes later, the heavy eating resumed. Hardwick would eat cereal poured over a 32-ounce tub of Greek yogurt, the size most people buy to last an entire week.

“The nightcap: a pint of Ben of Jerry’s, savored while lying in bed. Karamel Sutra was his favorite, with 1,040 calories, 104 grams of sugar and plenty of other unsightly numbers that led to even more unsightly numbers on the scale.”

Dear lord. I put on weight just reading that whole list! “I’m not naturally a big person,” Hardwick said at one point.

Who knew having a good metabolism could be so horrible?

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