If you were face-to-face with an offensive lineman from any given football team, it's likely they'd be standing at around 6-foot-4, 310 pounds. They’d also be shapely -- a pot-belly peering out from their jersey, indicative of a diet littered with cheeseburgers and pizza.
The reality is, these giants train and diet just as hard as any of the other athletes on the field. Every ounce of stamina they can muster is needed to stay on the field for every offensive play and hold down 280-pound men trying to sprint right through their human wall.
If you aspire to one day be part of the human shields that protect quarterbacks like Tom Brady, or Peyton Manning, it's not enough to just be a big, 300-pound dude -- you still have to be strong and athletic.
Taylor Lewan, offensive lineman for the the Tennessee Titans is 6-foot-8, 315 pounds, and told the NFL Network his diet is vital to his success as he tries to stay in shape and break the stigma of linemen just being "big fat guys."
Lewan showed a glimpse of his diet, saying he was big on carbohydrates and lean protein. That means a typical meal for him consisted of chicken, or fish, with a cup of rice and two cups of veggies. Lewan said he would eat about 150 grams of carbs a day, which is the equivalent of about seven Krispy Kreme donuts, granted his carbs probably have more nutritional value than seven donuts. While some athletes really try to eliminate carbs, the Titans' lineman said he used the macronutrient as energy to fuel him through his three-hour-a-day workouts. Christopher Mohr, a sports nutritionist out of the University of Massachusetts, said in a Bodybuiling.com article that a lineman's nutrition is key to their strength. If you're a shrimpy 280-pound lineman and need to bulk up a bit, Mohr said the key is to slowly increase your calories to the point where you're eating an additional 500 more than usual. Like Lewan's diet, Mohr also recommended building lean body mass with lean proteins and whole grain foods. It can be as easy as adding things such as oatmeal, whole grain bread, tuna fish and grilled chicken to your diet.
So what does the lineman's typical diet look like in calories?
The USDA recommends that active males between the age of 19-35 (the average retirement age for an NFL player is 30) consume 3,000 calories a day.
A.Q. Shipley of the Arizona Cardinals is 6-foot-1, 307 pounds, and told Bleacher Report that with all the running and working out he does, he has to consume about 5,000 calories a day to keep the weight on.
Let that sink in for a second. Their workouts are so intense that these hulking men have to eat an extra 2,000 calories than the average active male just to maintain that massive frame.
In the offseason, some of the linemen like to stick together by training with former NFL lineman LeCharles Bentley in Chandler, Arizona.
For breakfast, the big boys in this camp enjoy a build-your-own omelette with four slices of applewood-smoked bacon on the side. For lunch they linemen eat two, yes, TWO eight-ounce chicken breasts. That's a whole pound of chicken just for lunch, with a spicy red sauce and vegetables on the side. Their dinner gets a little bigger. The 300-pound athletes chow down on not one, but two 10-ounce steaks. That means in a week, they'll eat 8.75 pounds of steak, which is like eating a newborn baby for dinner every week.
So the secret's out on these guys. They have to diet and exercise just like everyone else -- they just happen to be a little bigger than everyone else.
Next time you're watching a game and see these guys wrestling down the opposition and creating an impenetrable wall, you'll know it took a lot of hard work and avoidance of a lot of delicious food to get that massive.