College Football Guide to Eating for Weight Gain 777x431 (1)

Typical Day of Eating: College Football Player Edition

A typical day of eating for a college football player is going to look pretty different. If this is you, read on!

Nutrition looks different for every person. For instance, some people use nutrition to help them lose weight, others to help them perform their best, and still, others to maintain a healthy body. In the world of college football, nutrition is very similar.

College athletes, football players in particular, are constantly told whether their weight is acceptable or not. With daily weigh-in’s, nutritionists, and sports medicine staff, there is no avoiding nutrition in college athletics. Of course, everyone’s goals are different, and so will be their typical day of eating. So for this article, I’ll speak from personal experience.

From 2018 until 2021, I played football at NC State. In high school, I gained almost sixty pounds over four years; however, in college, I was primarily told to maintain weight or add about five to ten pounds, depending on the season.

However, maintaining weight, much less gaining weight, isn’t as easy (or fun) as it may sound. For me in order to achieve my goals this included things like weight gain smoothies, meal-prepped lunches, and eating before going to sleep.

Let’s dive in. I’ll break it down by periods of the day.

What a Typical College Football Player Eats in a Day

Pre-training

Some guys can’t handle a lot of food in the mornings. Thankfully, that wasn’t me. For the majority of college, my breakfast was pretty simple: a large homemade smoothie with strawberries, a banana, protein powder, oats, peanut butter, creatine, and milk. Typically, it would have about 800-1000 calories in it.

Obviously, this was pretty heavy, so I tried to drink it pretty early in the morning before practice or lifts started.

Post-training

This was normally just a snack for me, typically at about 11 am. Often this was another protein shake or some kind, as the nutrition team would make them for us. My flavor choices varied, as I would go with the chocolate peanut butter if I was looking to gain some weight, but otherwise, I’d stick with a berry shake. Sometimes I’d throw in tart cherry juice for some extra carbs and recovery; some studies show that tart cherry juice can help with recovery efforts. These probably clocked in around 400 calories.

Lunch

Chicken, rice, vegetables, and avocado. Meal prep was important here. I probably ate this lunch for two years straight, and I may or may not have nightmares about it to this day. This lunch probably had about 800 calories in it and a balance of fat, carbohydrates, and protein.

Afternoon Snack

This would vary, and it really depended on what was available and how many calories I needed to eat. I was always grabbing as many snacks as I could from our team facility. Some typical things included protein bars, fruit, nuts, peanut butter with banana, or maybe some Cheerios. (Yes, Cheerios. Check out our Protein Cheerios Trail Mix!)

My snacks could range anywhere from 200 calories to 600 calories, depending on my goals at the time.

Dinner

Dinner wasn’t as set in stone as lunch. Sometimes I would go to the dining hall, sometimes I would make spaghetti or tacos for meal prep, and sometimes I would go to Chipotle with friends. I tracked my calories for a while so I began to understand how many calories I was eating and how much protein was in my dinners. On any typical night, dinner was around 1000 calories.

Before Bed Snack

If you are trying to gain weight, this may be one of the best times to do so because we don't typically burn many calories after dinner and before bed. Depending on your goals, it can also be good for muscle-building to eat before bed. Luckily, not only was I trying to build muscle, but also gain weight so this was a must for me.

Some typical snacks here included a protein shake with ingredients such as cherries, cocoa, almond butter, milk, and protein powder. Or I'd have Greek yogurt with almond butter and frozen fruit, heavy on the protein, as you can see. We're looking at about 600-800 calories here.

What's in the Typical Day of Eating for a College Footballer?

All in all, I was probably eating between 3,800 and 4,600 calories per day. I tried to eat healthily, but at some point, it does become difficult when you have to eat so many calories; maybe three protein shakes a day were a little much.

One of the biggest factors for my success was meal planning and prepping, however. This activity not only made sure I had enough food to eat, but that I had the right foods for my goals. Plus, the fact that I planned ahead meant that I didn’t have to spend time thinking about it each day. And that was a total game changer.

If you are looking to lose weight or dial in your nutrition, meal prepping is critical. In order to have some variety in your meal prep—unlike me—check out this week’s meal recipes to get some ideas to get started.

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AboutCamden Woods

Wake Christian '18 | NC State Football Player 2018-2020 | I am passionate about helping people by bringing value to their lives.

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