On his journey from Western Colorado University, a small Division II school, to becoming an NFL running back for the San Diego Chargers, Austin Ekeler had a lot of learning to do about maintaining a healthy diet.
Tempted by the NFL’s open tables full of food and drinks, Ekeler splurged as a new player and ended up five pounds over his desired weight. Consultations with his nutritionist and reality checks from his strength conditioning coach got him on the right track to begin portion control.
“[I learned] it’s not about who’s the biggest, it’s about who can perform the best,” he says. “In my position, it’s really about how much I can run.”
Maintaining his speed and desired size of about 192-198 pounds is all about a balanced breakfast, lunch, and dinner according to Ekeler. Breakfast for the running back is usually a smoothie he was introduced to in Australia. It consists of oat, fruits, some raw eggs, and either cow milk or almond milk. Yes, raw eggs.
“I love the nutritional value of eggs, but I’ve never been able to eat them since high school,” Ekeler explained. “So, now I just crack ‘em and throw ‘em in my smoothies.”
A typical lunch for the NFL player might be some diced chicken with white rice and a vegetable mix of peas, cauliflower, carrots, and broccoli. To give it some flavor and spice, he throws on a little bit of Szechuan sauce. Keeping it simple, dinner might be a remix of the day’s lunch. So, Ekeler might take what’s left over from the chicken and use it in a sandwich with some barbecue sauce. He admits it doesn’t bore him to eat similar meals consecutively as long as he can switch up the spice it feels different enough.
But don’t worry, on a cheat day, he definitely likes to keep his options open. He could go for some pizza, wings, or his fast-food jam: Taco Bell. Ekeler’s philosophy is that if you do everything within reason and are working out consistently, you can substitute one of those healthy meals for a junk food meal every once in a while.
As far as supplements, the athlete actually doesn’t take any.
“I tried them, but I didn’t see more results than just eating regular food,” Ekeler said. “So, I don’t need that in my diet because I’m getting all my nutrition from food.”
The Chargers running back encourages anyone on a fitness journey to develop some goals. Once you start hitting your goals, it will turn into habits and allow healthy dieting to feel normal for you. The balance of working out and eating right is the key to a good balance of a healthy body and mind.
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