Health

Nutritionist rates best and worst athlete diets – from the Lionesses’ fave beans on toast to Jamie Vardy’s pre-game port


SOME athletes scoff more than 18,000 calories a day while others steer clear of whole food groups completely.

Lioness Georgia Stanway famously tucks into a plate of beans and toast before every game, and Leicester City star Jamie Vardy downs port from a Lucozade before hitting the pitch.

Some athletes scoff more than 6,000 calories a day while others steer clear of whole food groups completely

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Some athletes scoff more than 6,000 calories a day while others steer clear of whole food groups completelyCredit: PA

On the other end of the spectrum, wrestler John Cena famously eats seven meals a day, while Irish rugby player Dave Kilcoyne reportedly chows down on four steaks in a single sitting.

But how healthy are these diets? Nutritionist Eva Humphries weighs in.

Keira Walsh – 9/10

England's Keira Walsh scored 9/10 for her 'totally sensible' approach to nutrition

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England’s Keira Walsh scored 9/10 for her ‘totally sensible’ approach to nutritionCredit: Getty

England Women’s footballer Keira Walsh, 26, has said it’s “vital” for her to get carbs and protein in for breakfast, meaning she normally eats scrambled eggs and beans or a bowl of porridge and a piece of fruit.

For lunch, it’s a chicken sandwich or a portion of rice with salad and Greek yoghurt, and dinner is usually pasta, chicken and vegetables.

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Eva, from Nottingham, described the midfielder’s approach to nutrition as “totally sensible”.

“Having protein, carbs and vegetables at each meal, including at breakfast, may ensure that blood sugar is balanced for the whole day,” she said.

“A balanced blood sugar means a steady level of energy and potentially peak performance.

“This has the potential for full marks depending on the quantity of vegetables eaten with each meal.”

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Jess Carter – 2/10

Lioness Jess Carter fuels herself with pasta before a big game

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Lioness Jess Carter fuels herself with pasta before a big gameCredit: Getty

Keira’s teammate Jess Carter also fuels herself with a bowl of pasta before a big game.

Her favourite variety? A carbonara made with eggs, hard cheese, cured pork and black pepper.

Due to its “significant fat content”, Eva scored the 25-year-old defender 2/10.

“It would slow her down somewhat because fats take such a long time to digest,” she said.

“Are we talking about a carbonara made with cream or the slightly lower-fat saucy egg yolk version?

“Generally, pre-workout meals need easy-digest ingredients, carbohydrates for energy and perhaps some fruit or veggies for nutrients but an overall low fat content.

“Jess’ favourite meal contains carbs, but it may not optimally support performance.”

Georgia Stanway – 7/10

Georgia Stanway loves a plate of beans on toast

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Georgia Stanway loves a plate of beans on toastCredit: Getty

The perfect pre-match meal for Georgia Stanway is beans on toast.

The 24-year-old once said in an interview: “It’s a little bit of a superstition, but it’s got to be beans on toast with two slices.

“Sometimes, when we go abroad, it’s really hard to get the beans and they end up being kidney beans, so I have to go without.”

Despite not being a traditionally “healthy” dish, Eva reckons it’s not as bad as you might think.

“Toast would provide easy carbohydrates whilst the beans add enough protein and complex carbohydrates to sustain energy,” she said.

Jamie Vardy – 1/10

Leicester City star Jamie Vardy drinks port the night before every game

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Leicester City star Jamie Vardy drinks port the night before every gameCredit: Getty

In his autobiography, footballer Jamie Vardy, 36, revealed drinks a Lucozade bottle half filled with port before every game.

“I fill a small plastic water or Lucozade bottle to halfway and just sip the port while watching television,” he wrote.

“It tastes like Ribena to me, and it helps me switch off and get to sleep a bit easier the night before a game.”

Eva said that while alcohol is known to reduce anxiety and increase the happy hormone serotonin, it may not be the best fuel for an athlete.

“This cocktail may well act as a temporary solution if nerves are a variable,” she said.

“But booze is a depressant, so it will likely leave you feeling low and increase dependence.

“Under current advice, men and women shouldn’t exceed 14 units of alcohol per week.”

John Cena – 7/10

WWE superstar John Cena apparently scoffs seven meals a day

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WWE superstar John Cena apparently scoffs seven meals a dayCredit: Getty

American actor and wrestler John Cena, 46, is known to eat seven meals every day – everything from oatmeal to rice, and vegetables to chicken.

“At face value, this may seem like a healthy combination of foods, however, there is another aspect to consider,” Eva said.

“Repair is an essential process by which the body clears out things that are no longer useful.

“When there is a constant intake of food, this clearing out and repairing process is down-regulated.

“Having gaps of four hours or more between meals or periods of fasting every now and then could be ideal.

“Alongside a great workout routine, this combination of foods will likely support muscle mass.”

Lionel Messi – 10/10

Lionel Messi scored 10/10

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Lionel Messi scored 10/10Credit: Getty

Eva gave top marks to Lionel Messi, 36, who steers clear of sugar, fried foods and processed carbs.

The footballer’s diet consists of vegetables, fresh fruits, nuts, seeds, whole grains, soups, salads, brown rice and tuna.

Eva said: “Messi takes a sensible approach. Diets based on whole foods are generally higher in wellbeing-supporting nutrients and gut health-supporting fibre.

“It’d be worth noting that athletes generally have a higher nutrient requirement owing to the amount of training undertaken.

“This approach to eating is a sensible way to increase that nutrient intake.”

Simone Biles – 10/10

Simone Biles also got top marks for her 'well-balanced' diet

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Simone Biles also got top marks for her ‘well-balanced’ dietCredit: Getty

Another perfect scorer is Simone Biles who got 10/10 for her “well-balanced approach” to her diet.

The artistic gymnast, 26, has shared how when it comes to dinnertime, she listens to her body.

“If I’m feeling like a little bit of a less healthy meal, I get pizza or fettuccine Alfredo with chicken,” she once said.

Eva said: “It’s clear that her diet works because Simone Biles is a top athlete.

“What I love most about her approach is her good relationship with food.

“Ultimately, nutrition isn’t just about ‘healthy food’, it is also about having a good relationship with food and enjoying it.”

Usain Bolt – 7/10

Usain Bolt allegedly loves egg sandwiches, pasta and roast chicken

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Usain Bolt allegedly loves egg sandwiches, pasta and roast chickenCredit: Getty

A typical day of eating for Usain Bolt, 36, reportedly consists of an egg sandwich for breakfast, pasta and corned beef for lunch and Jamaican dumplings and roast chicken at dinner – interspersed with fruit throughout the day.

This, according to Eva, ticks almost all the right boxes.

“The meals listed all contain protein and carbohydrates, a great combination to support energy, muscle building and recovery,” she said.

“Ideally, they should contain a few vegetables for extra vitamins and minerals, but the fruit will likely make up for this.”

Dave Kilcoyne – 5/10

Ireland’s Dave Kilcoyne apparently eats up to four steaks at a time

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Ireland’s Dave Kilcoyne apparently eats up to four steaks at a timeCredit: AFP

At the other end of scale is Irish rugby star David Kilcoyne, 34, who is apparently partial to indulging in four steaks a night.

Eva said: “Let’s face it, rugby players need mass.

“Protein is essential for muscle building, adding mass and recovery.

“Items like steaks and turkey are great sources of highly bioavailable protein that may support muscle growth and repair.

“On the other hand, high protein intake may put pressure on the kidneys.

“Sufficient water intake and lots of fibre would be ideal for balance.”

John Daly – 0/10

Golfer John Daly was the lowest scorer of all

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Golfer John Daly was the lowest scorer of allCredit: Getty

But the lowest scorer of all is John Daly.

The US golfer, 57, allegedly smoked 21 cigarettes, ate six packets of peanut M&Ms and drank 12 cans of Diet Coke across one round of golf in the 2022 PGA Championship.

“John would’ve been high as a kite on adrenaline, caffeine, sugar and nicotine,” Eva said, and scored him 0/10.

DK Metcalf – 3/10

DK Metcalf of the Seattle Seahawks consumes nothing until 4pm, it is alleged

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DK Metcalf of the Seattle Seahawks consumes nothing until 4pm, it is allegedCredit: Getty

Also at the lower end of the leaderboard is American football star DeKaylin Zecharius “DK” Metcalf, 25, who reportedly consumes nothing but coffee until 4pm.

But even then, he will eat gummy sweets or Skittles before finally having “dinner” between 8pm and 9pm.

Eva, who scored him a generous 3/10, said: “Technically, he is running on sugar and caffeine, which will provide short bursts of energy.

“On the other hand, he is a phenomenal athlete, so I can only wonder just how powerful he would be on a well-balanced diet.”

Tom Brady – 7/10

Tom Brady of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers follows a highly restrictive diet

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Tom Brady of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers follows a highly restrictive dietCredit: Getty

American footballer Tom Brady, 46, follows something called the TB12 diet, which involves eliminating a variety of different foods and drinks.

This includes nightshade vegetables, gluten, dairy, soy, corn, MSG, coffee, alcohol, and anything containing GMOs, trans fats and sugar.

It’s all about whole foods not processed ones, which Eva is a little confused by.

“It’s very restrictive and talks a lot about eating only whole foods but, in reality, relies heavily on highly processed protein shakes and various powders,” she said.

“Given Tom Brady’s elite performance, this combination clearly works for him, but it may not translate well to everyday life.

“On that note, it’s important to remember that nutrition is a very individual approach – what might work well for one person could be entirely incorrect for another.”

Big Show – 1/10

Wrestling fighter The Big Show is said to chow down on 20-egg omelettes

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Wrestling fighter The Big Show is said to chow down on 20-egg omelettesCredit: Getty – Contributor

Paul Donald Wight II, also known as Big Show, apparently eats five meals a day, which includes 20-egg omelettes and entire tubs of ice cream.

The 51-year-old told talkSPORT: “My calorie intake back in the day – but I understand it was a lot of empty bad calories – I just used to eat whatever I wanted in massive amounts.

“I’d probably somewhere [between] 13,000 and 18,000 calories a day.”

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McDonald’s used to be Wight’s usual port of call for mammoth meals, which would sometimes consist of five burgers.

Eva, who runs the website Wholefood Warrior and works closely with Betting.com, said she understands this might be “bulking”, but the approach would take a “big toll on his body”.



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