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Dwight Freeney From Indianapolis Colts Uses Gadgets and Strict Diet While Training

Another Athlete's Weird Diet

I am fascinated by the extremes athletes in training put themselves through, especially when it comes to their diets. Swimmer Michael Phelps eats about 12,000 calories a day when training, and extreme marathoner Dean Karnazes eats 7,000 calories a day when running. It sounds a little crazy, but given how hard their bodies are working, it makes sense that they'd need more fuel than the rest of us.

On the other side of the spectrum is Dwight Freeney, defensive end for the Indianapolis Colts. Freeney is playing in the Super Bowl this Sunday and is also featured in the February issue of Sports Illustrated. Reading the article, Freeney sounds a bit compulsive, a bit geeky, and totally obsessive when it comes to his training and diet. He uses all sorts of gadgets to repair himself: laser beams that he shoots into sore muscles, a posture pump to even out his spine, and an ARP machine that sends electrical currents into his nervous system, which helps his body heal faster.

To see what Freeney isn't eating,


Freeney's dietary habits are a bit of a marvel and not what you'd expect from a 6-foot-1, 268-lb. man.

"His diet makes supermodels look indulgent. From the Wednesday morning before the [AFC championship] game to kickoff that Sunday afternoon he ate beef and pinto beans and nothing else, not even for breakfast. He drinks only grape juice, water and occasionally tea as a treat. If he goes to a restaurant he brings his ingredients with him and instructs the chef on how he wants it prepared — no oil, no pepper, no garlic, no garnish, no powder and certainly no pan spray."

Freeney follows Sari Mellman's Progression Diet, a meal plan that is so exact it's based on blood analysis. Freeney's blood is looked at to determine what foods "maximize his inflammatory response and increase cellular function." The idea is that it's not so much a diet, as figuring out what food will make your body stronger, faster, and healthier. For Freeney, it's chicken over pork and Fuji apples over Granny Smiths. To keep it all in line, Freeney keeps an entire binder in his kitchen of what he can and cannot eat.

Crazy? A little bit. But I've read about many successful athletes who get there through drive, talent, and total rigidness. Keeping that in perspective, he doesn't seem too off-base. Now to see if his 21st-century approach can triumph over the Saints this Sunday . . .

Image Source: Getty
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joghog joghog 6 years
Jamiephoto, Haha, that's a good one! :-) I LOVE my Saints, but the Colts are my "backup team" so I'm happy either way...
Jamiephoto Jamiephoto 6 years
But the good thing is if all goes well he eats QB's as treats on Sunday. Bree's will fit into his diet :D
Spectra Spectra 6 years
Yeah, a lot of pro athletes follow strict diets. A lot of the Green Bay Packers live in my area and most of them have personal chefs that are on the local TV news to share things they make for the athletes. Some of them avoid certain grains, some of them avoid all dairy, some eat a lot of meat, etc. I think it'd be cool to have a personal chef that could make you almost perfectly-balanced meals.
jkat jkat 6 years
Uhh I think this is evidence of a need for better helmets in the NFL. In all seriousness, those guys put their bodies through hell week in and week out, so if this even has a placebo effect of making him feel better, then more power to him. As long as he is getting everything he needs nutritionally, then I have to say I admire his willpower.
Angelica Angelica 6 years
I've often wondered about pre-game diets for athletes. They obviously need intense fuel, but it's a delicate balance from full and fueled to too full and immobile. Sounds like he figured out what works for him, even if it seems wacky!
chloe-bella chloe-bella 6 years
Wow, that's really interesting. Speaking of strange athlete diets - my boyfriend was telling me he saw on TV that Lamar Odom (Khloe Kardashian's husband who plays in the NBA) pretty much eats only candy, like bags and bags of it per day. Crazy!
joghog joghog 6 years
All the crazy diets in the world won't fix that torn ligament in your ankle, Dwight Freeney... that being said, there are a LOT of NFL players who adhere to really rigid diets. I know that the Saints QB has Celiac disease, so no wheat, and also no dairy, eggs, or nuts due to food allergies. How do you fuel an athlete's body with all these restrictions? Amazing.... Oh, and GEAUX SAINTS! Woo-hoo!
michlny michlny 6 years
Wow. I always dreamed of having the perfect diet. What I wonder is how he feels. If he feels a difference and performs better because of his rigid diet.
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