Most elite athletes follow a fairly strict diet — after all, fueling their bodies properly is an important part of the job. But is it possible to take it too far?
Dwight Freeney of the Super Bowl-bound Indianapolis Colts was recently profiled by “Sports Illustrated,” and writer Lee Jenkins holds nothing back when describing some of Freeney’s unorthodox practices. In addition to the hyperbaric chamber in his bedroom and the laser beams in his basement (used to treat sore muscles), Freeney follows a diet that, as Jenkins puts it, “makes supermodels look indulgent.”
The diet is called Sari Mellman’s Dietary Progression, and it’s based on blood, which is drawn every couple of months and analyzed to determine what foods will work best for your body, and which foods your body is likely to reject. For example, Freeney had suffered from head to toe cramping, and his coaches kept telling him to eat bananas. After having his blood analyzed, it was determined that bananas were actually part of the problem, according to “Sports Illustrated.”
So, what can he eat? Well, what he can eat and what he does eat are two very different things. Freeney’s body does better with tomatoes than with lettuce, and prefers pork to chicken. But the defensive end is stricter than that.
For example, Freeney ate nothing but beef and pinto beans from Wednesday morning until the Sunday afternoon kickoff against the Jets. He knows exactly what weight he wants to be — 262 pounds against a passing team, and 267 against a running team — and he won’t let anything stand in his way of achieving that weight. Even if he goes out to a restaurant for dinner, Jenkins wrote, “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.” Even snacking on a sprig of parsley makes him feel guilty.
Before you start feeling too sorry for him, though, know this: Freeney does allow two cheat days, during which he can gain up to five pounds (which, of course, he loses by Thursday).
His teammates call him a lab rat because so many of the things he relies on to stay at the top of his game have yet to be scientifically proven. But, looking at his stats, it’s clear that something is working for him.
Do you think this extreme type of diet is dangerous, or just part of the job for a professional athlete?