Ever since I heard that NFL record holder Tony Gonzalez was a fan of Dr. T. Colin Campbell's The China Study--a vegan wannabe (maybe an 80%er)--and a Green Smoothie fan--I've been periodically scanning the newspapers, magazines and the net to see if he's still following his "veganish" diet.
Until today I hadn't read anything new about Tony. I figured he'd ditched the plant-based eating plan a year ago, and was back to pizzas & steak.
Wrong. He's been busy writing a book on what's working for him--along with the KC Chief's Nutritionist, Mitzi Dulan. The book--The All-Pro Diet: Lose Fat, Build Muscle, and Live Like a Champion--came out last week, but I just learned about it today.
Looks like Tony--who now plays for the Atlanta Falcons--is still on his 80% "veganish" program--and apparently it's working.
"A perennial Pro-Bowler, NFL tight end Tony Gonzalez has been an unstoppable force for all of his 12 years in the NFL. But for a long time, he ate like an average American: red meat, pizza, fast food, whatever was plentiful and convenient. Concerned about his long-term, post-career health, Tony decided to change his diet. With the help of Mitzi Dulan, nutritionist for the Kansas City Chiefs and the Kansas City Royals, Tony embarked on a revolutionary new clean-eating and exercise regimen that changed his life, elevated his physical and mental performance, and resulted in dramatic, measurable improvements on and off the field. It was this dietary change that led him to break two NFL records—most touchdowns and receptions by any tight end in NFL history—in a single season." --book jacket description-
I had a chance to look at some excerpts of the book--and you can too! It looks like Tony sticks to a plant-based low-fat diet for at least 2 out his 3 meals. He limits the animal protein to mostly omega-3 rich fish, grass-fed-no-feedlot chicken and meat, omega-3 enriched eggs, and some low-fat dairy.
Too bad Dr. Campbell's "candidate-for-worst-food"--whey powder--is offered as an option for a protein-booster for morning smoothies. To be fair, the book does suggest a number of plant-based protein supplements.
I don't think Dr. T. Colin Campbell is going to be using Tony Gonzalez as his China Study poster child anymore--but, frankly, Tony's book is a great first step for anyone who isn't quite ready to go "whole hog vegan", but wants to clean up their diet, and up their intake of real unprocessed foods.
It pretty much follows the clean-eating Michael Pollan Principle of, "Eat Food. Not Too Much. Mostly Plants. Don't Eat Anything Your Great-Grandmother Wouldn't Recognize As Food".
Here Are Some Excerpts:
(in no particular order)
7. Sweet potatoes
10. Wild salmon
1. Try to incorporate at least one plant-based meal into your diet every day. Try black bean soup or quinoa as your protein source at mealtime. It's good for your health, will help you save money and the environment.
2. Eat a clean, whole foods type of diet and always read the ingredient label. Look for foods that have easy to pronounce ingredients and short or single ingredient lists.
3. Load up on fresh fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables are full of powerful disease-fighting nutrients.
4. Make the switch to whole grains nutrient rich energy. Whole grains have more protein, fiber and overall nutrients. Choose whole grain breads, brown rice, whole wheat pancakes, whole wheat pasta, etc.
5. Eat a source of protein at every meal. Protein helps to build and repair muscles, keep your immune system strong, and will keep you satisfied. Aim for protein sources like fish, chicken and beans.
1 whole wheat pita with 2 tablespoons hummus
1⁄4 cup walnuts
1⁄4 cup almonds
10 baby carrots with 3 tablespoons
Raw Revolution energy bar
LÄRABAR energy bar (the Healthy Librarian's personal fave)
CLIF Nectar bar
1⁄3 cup guacamole with 12 multigrain or sweet potato tortilla chips
AppleBoost energy snack tubes
1 cup berries
1 medium banana
1 cup fresh pineapple
2 cups watermelon
1 cup low-fat Greek yogurt
2 ounces salmon, venison, or beef jerky
1⁄2 tuna sandwich
1 hard-boiled egg
Cashew butter and honey sandwich (whole wheat bread)
Peanut butter and jelly sandwich (whole wheat bread)
Mini-smoothie (1 cup hemp milk with 3⁄4 frozen banana)
Mitzi's Berrylicious Smoothie - 1 serving 16 ounces
1 cup hemp milk or organic 1% cow’s milk
1 cup frozen mixed berries
1 scoop protein powder (hemp or whey)
1 large handful fresh baby spinach
Blend well and enjoy!
Per Serving: 282 calories, 29 g protein, 41 g carbohydrates, 3 g fat
Check out more tips, recipes, and meal plans from Tony's book here. Look under Publisher's Summary--Download Accompanying Reference Material.
So, Why Am I Interested in Tony Gonzalez' Diet & Eating Habits?
Long story short.
I got into this whole plant-based (aka vegan) eating thing back in March 2008 when The China Study author, Dr. T. Colin Campbell came to speak at the Wellness Grand Rounds at my medical center. His topic? "Can Medical Practice Tolerate Nutritional Intervention?" Read that story, here.
My interest was piqued when Dr.
Campbell said KC Chief's NFL star Tony Gonzalez (now an Atlanta Falcon's tight-end) decided to start a
vegan diet after reading only 40 pages of The China Study.
had learned about Campbell's research on a plane flight last Spring
when his seat mate turned down a meal offered in first class.
Gonzalez asked him why, he told him about Dr. Campbell's research
"showing that people who eat mostly plants have fewer deadly diseases
than those who eat animals."
Gonzalez started a vegan diet
immediately, and according to Dr. Campbell he had his best season ever,
breaking his touchdown record before mid-season, and his career
Since I'm a nosy & skeptical librarian, I had to verify Dr.
Campbell's story, and sure enough I got the full Tony Gonzalez story
from a January 25, 2008 Wall Street Journal article that you can read here!
It's a great article, with a lot of supplementary nutritional advice
from sports nutritionists, so I highly recommend taking a look at it.
First of all, 247 lb. Tony is the NFL's highest paid tight-end and his "biggest thing is strength." Sports nutritionists usually recommend that athletes get lots of protein to rebuild muscles, and big doses of vitamins and minerals. The KC Chief's training table serves up 3500 calories per athlete a day, with choices like eggs, sausage and prime rib. Tony was going to have quite a challenge on his hands to eat vegan. He needed lots of calories, and lots of protein.
Turns out Gonzalez quit eating meat & dairy "cold turkey", without getting advice from a nutritionist. BIG MISTAKE!
Three weeks later he'd lost weight & strength. 100 pound dumbbells that he could easily throw around before, now felt like lead weights. "I was scared out of my mind", he said.
Before quitting his vegan diet, he called up Dr. Campbell who put him in touch with Jon Hinds, a vegan and former strength coach for the LA Clippers basketball team. His suggestion: more plant protein, like soy, beans, or a rice/ pea protein powder of all things.
But the Chief's nutritionist, Mitzi Dulan (the co-author of Tony's new book) still didn't think that was enough, so she convinced Tony to add just a little bit of chicken and fish into his diet. Read that story here.
And judging by the contents of Tony's book--he's been following Mitzi Dulan's advice ever since. Looks like it's working just fine.
But as far as Mitzi's Smoothies are concerned--I think mine beat hers hands down--especially when it comes to high-powered nutrition. I've been drinking these smoothies daily now for almost 1 1/2 years, and I'm a believer.
Read that story here.