really good article from the ny times about us footballers diet



hey chaps read this and thought of some of the units on here...quiet a good read to be honest

Lane Johnson is not like those watching the Super Bowl — and that’s not only because he plays right tackle better than anyone in the world or because he’s 6-foot-6 and 330 pounds.

Here’s another way Johnson is different: Unlike those who read the back of the label hoping their snack can somehow pass as healthy, Johnson couldn’t seem to eat enough calories. He was 312 pounds about three years ago and wanted to reach 330, but he had a hard time eating enough food — or the right foods. That’s when Stan Efferding came into his life. The founder of The Vertical Diet, Efferding designed a diet for Johnson that requires him to consume around 5,500 calories per day of micronutrient-dense, easy-to-digest food.

Yes, 5,500 calories per day.

“It’s a lot, but the whole thing is it’s easy on the digestive system,” Johnson, 32, said by his locker on Saturday after the final practice before traveling to Arizona. “So it’s not like you’re always bloated. … It’s a lot easier on the stomach than eating a whole bunch of stuff.”

The Philadelphia Eagles are in the Super Bowl with Johnson as perhaps the team’s best performer. He’s a first-team All-Pro who has not allowed a sack since the 2020 season. A 10-year veteran, Johnson is also a team captain and postponed surgery on a torn adductor suffered Christmas Eve so he could compete in the postseason. His toughness will likely be lauded on Sunday’s broadcast. His public acknowledgments of his mental health struggles and confronting his anxiety have become sources of inspiration.

Johnson’s absences — this season and in past years — further confirm his value. Since 2016, the Eagles are 61-29-1 with Johnson and 10-22 without him. Watching him play offers an appreciation for someone who does his job as well as anyone in the world. His body must be fueled accordingly.

“The whole thing about this,” Johnson said, “is you can get muscle, and lose the fat and you’re not bloated and f—ing miserable all the time.”

When Johnson’s eating plan was raised as a topic for a story earlier this season, he gave a reporter homework: Call Efferding. He’ll tell you.

Efferding’s plan is customized for whether the consumer — in this case, a star offensive lineman — must gain or lose weight. Johnson’s diet is comparable to that of Thor Björnsson, who is The Mountain on “Game of Thrones,” and Brian Shaw, a four-time World’s Strongest Man winner. That’s the company — or the company’s food log, to be precise — that Johnson keeps.

“In Lane’s particular circumstance, he had a hard time consuming enough calories to hold on to his weight or to gain weight,” Efferding said. “I got him, he was probably 312 pounds. He said he wanted to be 330 and he was having a hard time eating enough food. And so I designed his specific diet as I do for a lot of strong men. … And to be really simplistic with it, I tried to make sure that … it’s easy to consume, a lot of food digested quickly and be hungry again soon enough to where you can get enough meals in a day to accumulate the kind of calories that you need.”

So what does that look like? The explanation would fit as well in a science or math class as it would in a line at the grocery store.

The top priority is for Johnson to eat enough protein to maintain or gain muscle tissue. Except the obstacle, according to Efferding, is that protein satiates an appetite and has a high thermic effect. So for 100 calories eaten, there would only be about 70 calories netted. The protein assigned was chosen to maintain Johnson’s lean mass.

Because he must consume considerable calories, he must eat a lot of food without getting full. That’s why the type of protein matters. Efferding assigns Johnson ground meats, with lean ground beef like bison. He prefers ground beef as opposed to steak because steak can be harder to consume based on the surface area, the time it takes to chew and the time it takes to digest. With ground beef, more can be shoveled in faster, and it can digest quicker.

“I know people think you can just eat, it’s great, you can just eat whatever you want,” Efferding said. “But you get full pretty quick and it becomes really hard that your body just kind of shuts down. It becomes really hard to try to eat enough calories to support your weight.”

When Johnson first connected with Efferding through his trainer, Gabe Rangel, it was because he was losing the size and strength he needed. A regular diet of chicken and vegetables wasn’t enough to sustain him with his training. Johnson is instructed to eat 250 grams of protein, and the fat is kept below 30 percent of total calories. Overall, about 1,000 calories come from protein, 1,100 from fat and the remaining calories from carbohydrates — about 850 grams, helping to fuel Johnson’s workload.

“That sounds like a lot to you and me,” Efferding said. “But that’s not outrageous for sports performance.”

“I think it’s easier to maintain weight,” Johnson said of the diet. “Just as far as eating clean, and I think it limits inflammation. And a lot of the time you’re not eating a bunch of bulls—, sugar.”

One meal that Johnson consumes often is an Efferding creation called “Monster Mash.” It consists of lean meat — a 90/10 beef or bison — with white rice. Then there’s a scrambled egg and bone broth, which can be added in volume to make it soupy or lighter so the mash is moist. Red peppers are sprinkled in for flavor and texture.

“Because it’s moist you can shovel a ton of it in,” Efferding said. “I got the idea from sumo wrestlers. … They’re just able to eat larger portions and digest it better and then be hungry again sooner because they have to consume an enormous amount of calories.”

Johnson said the same dish can get boring after a while, but it’s “something that you can add a lot of rice to, a lot of bone broth” to make it like a “ground beef soup,” allowing him to “consume a lot of calories at once” without causing digestion problems.

For clients who must lose weight, the carbohydrates consumed are high on the satiety index — potatoes and oranges. For Johnson, who has needed to gain (and maintain) weight, that becomes rice and orange juice. The objective is easy to understand: quick digestion so Johnson is hungry for the next meal. Calories are king, but they must come in specific doses of proteins, fats and carbohydrates.

Another key for Johnson is to get sufficient sodium. The Eagles administer sweat tests for each player. It was learned that Johnson is a salty sweater.

“You lose a lot of endurance, blood volume,” he said.

That’s why Efferding said he likes to prescribe salt liberally in Johnson’s meals. Johnson also consumes a high-salt electrolyte replacement with his water throughout training sessions or in games.

Another piece of the diet is sufficient potassium, magnesium and calcium to regulate blood pressure. There’s plenty of fruit juice and yogurt — including a shake that can taste like a creamsicle — and potatoes at night so it does not adversely affect his hunger.

One of the benefits of this meal plan has been the effect on Johnson’s blood pressure, which decreased by about 20 points even though he gained nearly 20 pounds.

“Which is extraordinary,” Efferding said.

That’s also due to using a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine to help with sleep apnea. When Efferding started working with Johnson, he flew to meet with the lineman to ensure the mask was programmed correctly.

“That, with the diet, all of it combined, helped me a lot,” Johnson said.

Johnson relies on Rangel. He also has a chef who makes food, so there’s a team around him. And life can get in the way of a strict diet, but Johnson tries to make at least half of his meals in strong adherence to The Vertical Diet. He also wants to implement one of the plan’s staples, which is to go for a 10-minute walk after each meal to aid digestion.

The attraction to The Vertical Diet was the effect it had on strong men such as Shaw, and Johnson has since shared the plan with other linemen. The body composition and blood pressure offered tangible numbers to validate results. The resolution of sleep apnea and increased sodium have also been beneficial. But Efferding said another benefit is the way eating has changed for Johnson.

“The ease of which he is able to now eat enough calories to fuel his body, because before it was always such an overwhelming task,” Efferding said. “Nobody’s going to appreciate that when you tell them that it’s hard to eat enough food to fuel an athlete that’s that large, carries that muscle mass and trains that hard. It really is a full-time job eating.”

The diet can only do so much. Johnson has been a high-level performer throughout his career, but this is part of how he’s continued to thrive into his 30s. He has said he wants to play two more seasons, which he confirmed after the NFC Championship Game, labeling it as a “couple more years, and see where I’m at.” While he’ll play through pain on Sunday, Johnson vowed to appreciate this Super Bowl run more than the last one, remembering to chronicle the moments.

“I want to play at a super high level for whatever time I have left, and that’s really it,” Johnson said. “My kids are getting older, my parents are getting older. You spend a lot of time away from the people you love. But that’s the sacrifice we all make.”

Those sacrifices aren’t just with time. They’re also with his body and the diet he chooses to follow.


found really interesting how they got him to add 20 pounds AND dropped his bloody pressure by 20 points i that can't have been easy...most impressive...never realised how important salt and electrolytes are in our diet


Well-known member
How did you get on with shoulder surgery mate ?
didn’t help mate thanks for asking still the exact same but I’m thinking it’s tendinitis I have no crunching or poping now like before which is great he cleaned it up

but no difference in range of motion or pain doing everything 1 hour a day physio Massge stretching voodooflossing band work ice hot cold therapy so hoping I can get rid of the pain in the front of the shoulder and be much better not training is difficult very difficult but I cannot go into a gym not being 100 percent able too train hard and just want too be able too get in and train around it at least

But definitely if I get rid of the tendon pain this will be brilliant and hopefully be much better