Attacking Nevada lineman Nate Brown does his best to eat well, as do many footballers and other college athletes across the country without access to training facilities amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The 6-foot-4,300-pound soaring senior has stumbled a few times in college sports Weight Watchers’ version, with no personal lessons or springtime practices.
“Maybe I would get Taco Bell because I like Taco Bell,” said Brown. “Or maybe I’ll have ice later in the evening. … The meals that may not be super nutritious, I tried to limit that to one day. “
Athletes are expelled from facilities with well-stocked workout tables and easy access to healthy snacks and protein shakes. Some are at home with family members, while others are mostly only in off-campus homes.
To help them, schools have offered care packages, shopping tips, recipes, and even cooking demonstrations on social media. And nutritionists or dietitians in schools – 96 of whom employ at least one, according to the College and the Professional Sports Dietitians Association, with about two-thirds in the Power Five conferences – have consulted athletes from afar.
The challenge is to keep athletes – who are already working on impromptu training schedules – on track when it comes to adding strength or avoiding unwanted pounds, even if it remains unclear when they can get back to campuses or that they will be back this fall play while the country tries to re-play.
“For some of them, it’s really good to be at home because they have someone who still makes home-made meals for them,” said Rachel Lukowski, director of sports nutrition for the state of Iowa. “And some don’t, so it’s a question of” OK, here’s how we can help you “or” What can we do? “
Nebraska has offered takeaway food for athletes near the campus, and Memphis sent 225 care packages of items such as snacks and protective masks to its athletes in mid-April.
Lukowski said that state care packs in Iowa contain protein powder along with bottles so that athletes can mix their own shakes without a blender, as well as shopping lists of tips for shopping cheaply for healthy foods and what to keep in the pantry. The school has also posted cooking tips and recipes, such as chicken dishes, egg muffins, and pancakes.
Oregon state dietitian Toni Langhans has attempted similar steps with the school’s ‘Quarantine Kitchen Series’ on Instagram. She wants athletes to feel comfortable in the kitchen by making dishes like oatmeal, stuffed peppers, black bean burgers, or homemade hummus instead of ordering daily takeaway.
“It is such an important skill to work on that it really affects the athlete’s overall relationship with food, and what he will eat when he returns,” said Langhans. “So that’s what we’re trying to push for creating these demos and trying to give people recipes – something that’s easy to watch and say,” OK yes, I think I can. “… Sometimes quality food can take three minutes.”
So far, everything has gone smoothly for Duke’s defensive ending Chris Rumph II. He’s trying to strengthen his 6-3 frame while living with his parents in Knoxville, Tennessee, and has picked up 6 pounds (233), thanks in large part to his mom’s cooking.
“We haven’t even left home yet, so I only get home-cooked meals, protein, and all that stuff,” said Rumph, son of an assistant coach with NFL’s Houston Texans. So there is no fast food. I haven’t had fast food in … I think two months. “
Liam Ryan, the attacking lineman of Washington State, is staying in a house near the Pullman campus with roommates. They grilled so much steak, chicken, pork chops and salmon that they recently ran out of propane and had to get more.
The 6-5,300-pound Ryan has focused on eating vegetables, brown rice, and snacks like jerky beef or nuts. He also checks the scales to make sure he stays close to his playing weight.
“I think you just have to be persistent in what you do because if you relax a little and you miss a meal or don’t train – I mean, that’s what they do on the next level,” said Ryan. “At the NFL, it’s off season for you. So you can taste it now.”
Still, it’s hard to fight any cravings for athletes that are away from the hour-long campus routines of strength training, workouts, and study hall. Ryan had a strong one for Chips Ahoy biscuits, so he picked up multiple packets and then tossed several biscuits into a bowl of milk as if eating cereal.
“O-lineman, over there,” he joked.
Back in Nevada, Brown understands that challenge. He sees it all as a test of ‘exercising self-control’ when choosing what to take home from the supermarket or picking up from restaurants.
And yes, he succumbed to the temptation of junk food. But when he does, he makes the next meal better.
“Everyone will come back at some point,” said Brown. “I think that the athletes who were able to eat well and really took care of their nutrition would have some of the athletes in better shape and performing better. It really comes down to that. “