Wide receivers in football come in many shapes and sizes, from speedy slot receivers who dart across the middle and thrive on quick seam routes to the powerful flankers who race along the sidelines to haul in long bombs for dramatic touchdowns. Regardless of the specific role, wide receivers need proper nutrition to build strong muscles and explosiveness, helping them not only get open to catch passes, but also withstand punishing hits from linebackers and defensive backs.
To maintain the necessary size to compete at the highest levels of football competition, wide receivers need to consume enough calories to build muscle mass. As a general guideline, individuals looking to add muscle should multiply their current body weight by 17 to determine their daily caloric intake, according to dietitian Sharon Griffin, writing in the online IDEA Fitness Journal. For instance, a 200-pound wide receiver would want to consume 3,400 calories a day to pack on muscle. If a receiver merely wants to sustain his current weight without adding too much muscle and possibly sacrificing speed, he should limit his caloric intake to his body weight multiplied by 15.
Wide receivers need to make certain a good portion of those calories come from protein, which acts as a building block for muscle. Individuals should consume at least 1.2 g of protein per pound of body weight each day if they're intent on building muscle, according to nutrition specialist Dr. Melina Jampolis. And wide receivers should get the bulk of that protein from fish or lean meats like chicken and turkey. Red meat, with its high percentage of saturated fat, can add unwanted pounds and slow receivers.
While excess fat can be a problem for wide receivers, who rely heavily on quickness to succeed, that doesn't mean fat should be avoided. The Houston Texans advise their players to limit daily fat intake to 25 percent of their total calories. Fat is an energy source that helps receivers recover from vicious tackles, respond faster to training and build stronger bones and cell walls. For optimum health, receivers should try to get their fat from non-animal sources like almonds, walnuts, olive oil, avocados, flaxseed and fish, all of which are loaded with healthy monounsaturated fats and omega-3 fatty acids compared with the harmful saturated fats in ground beef, steak and similar foods.
Carbohydrates fuel the body, and wide receivers need ample energy reserves to maintain top speed throughout a full 60-minute game. However, receivers need to get their carbs from whole grains, fruits and vegetables, not processed foods or sugary snacks, which will supply short bursts of energy without any real nutritional value. Good sources for carbs that will deliver energy from the opening kickoff through the final snap include brown rice, whole wheat breads, oatmeal and potatoes.
Wide receivers should eat six or seven small meals throughout the day to keep the body primed for action. A sample meal plan would start with a breakfast of eggs, some oatmeal and a fruit cup. A grilled chicken wrap with brown rice will provide an excellent lunch, while dinner can consist of a spinach salad, a bowl of pasta and perhaps some baked fish or some white turkey breast. Energy bars, protein shakes, fruit smoothies or even peanut butter sandwiches can be eaten between meals as snacks, supplying the necessary protein and healthy fats.
- Fast and Furious Football: Houston Texans Strength & Conditioning Program
- Muscle Prodigy: Diets for Professional Athletes
- ESPN: Healthy Diet Helps Saints' WRs Emerge
- BodyBuilding.com: Q & A with Derek Armstrong
- CNN Health: How Should I Eat to Build Muscle Mass?
- Idea Health and Fitness Organization; Gaining Weight the Right Way; Sharon Griffin, PhD; April 2006