San Diego Chargers offensive lineman Nick Hardwick retired from the NFL after the 2014 season.
After being sidelined with a neck injury in the first game of the year, Hardwick lost 85 pounds throughout the season and was barely recognisable when announced his retirement at a press conference in February.
Emily Kaplan of theMMQB.com recently caught up with Hardwick — whose life now includes yoga classes, kale salads, and lemon water — and the two discussed what he had to eat to become big enough to play in the NFL.
Hardwick’s weight gain started after high school where he did not play football, but was a 6-foot-4, 171-pound wrestler.
At Purdue University, Hardwick bulked up to 230 pounds thanks to “unlimited cafeteria pizza” and an ROTC scholarship that had him training to become a marine. His friends talked him into trying out for the football team and he made the cut.
While on the team, Hardwick added another 65 pounds, reaching a weight of 295.
“I’m not naturally a big person,” Hardwick told Kaplan. “So it took a lot of effort for me to sustain that weight.”
He describes what he had to eat on a typical day in college to maintain his size:
- A sub sandwich for breakfast.
- A sub sandwich for lunch.
- 2 pounds of ground beef on tortillas for dinner.
- A 600-700 calorie protein shake before bed.
- Another 600-700 calorie protein shake at 3 a.m..
But once Hardwick reached NFL-type size, he still had to over-indulge in order to maintain his body mass.
Here is the typical daily diet for Hardwick while he was in the NFL:
- A 600-calorie protein shake and a protein bar at 4:45 a.m..
- After his first workout he drank a 300-calorie Gatorade protein shake.
- After showering, his breakfast included a smoothie “with everything imaginable in it” along with five eggs, some sausage, and a 32-ounce whole milk.
- He snacked on mixed nuts during film sessions.
- Mid-morning he would drink a 700-calorie protein shake.
- Later in the morning he had another protein shake.
- Lunch included a “a big salad with as much protein as possible piled on top” and “a lot of bread.”
- Dinner consisted of meat, potatoes, and vegetables “with normal portion sizes.”
- 90 minutes after dinner he eat a 32-ounce tub of Greek yogurt with cereal piled on top.
- Before bed he ate a 1,040-calorie pint of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream.
Once you get past the sheer volume of food, the most surprising may be the small dinner. Hardwick explained that simply by saying he “didn’t want to drag my wife down with me.”
The results were enormous.
And then at his press conference:
Once he decided to retire, Hardwick said he wanted “a magazine six-pack [and] to look like Brad Pitt in Fight Club” and knew he had to lose the weigh immediately or it would become harder to do later on.
At first he started intermittent fasting and eliminated carbs. Later, he started following a “Paleo-ish” diet consisting of “whole foods and as much organic as reasonably possible without being a pain in the arse.”
Hardwick later reintroduced carbs, started yoga, walks 5-6 miles a day, and a typical meal is now “a giant salad topped with a lean meat, two tablespoons of almond butter, mustard, oil, balsamic vinaigrette and hot sauce.”
The result was an 85-pound weight loss in just five months.
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