As a professional NFL player, Geoff Schwartz takes his diet pretty seriously (and at 340 pounds, we took everything he said pretty seriously, too). We talked to number 74 about protein and pigging out post-season, and what he eats on a regular day with the New York Giants.

What’s your training diet like?
It varies a lot. Offseason, from March all the way through till training camp, I eat almost no carbs and no sugar. Eating this way—just protein, vegetables, cheese, nuts—I’m able to maximize muscle growth and lean out. Into the season, you’re exerting more energy and burning more calories, so you have to consume more carbs.

Really? No carbs at all?
I have one cheat-meal a week, and it’s pretty disgusting. It’s not like, oh I’m gonna have a piece of bread. I’ve eaten an entire pizza and a carton of fried rice and Krispy Kreme doughnuts in one meal.

Who got you on the no-carb thing?
[Former Saints center] LeCharles Bentley, he’s big into nutrition. I was training with him in Arizona and he said, a guy your size shouldn’t be eating carbs—it spikes your insulins, it makes you sluggish, it doesn’t promote recovery. At first I was skeptical about it because, you know, everyone loves carbs. But in 2013 I went no carbs straight for the first 2 weeks I was [at the Kansas City Chiefs] and I felt great. I had a lot more energy than I thought I would, I was recovering well after lifts and working out, and I played great last year so I’m continuing to do it this year.

Geoff Schwartz at home with his green egg grill

Schwartz at home with his green egg grill

What do you miss most when you’re on that diet?
I love white rice and soy sauce, I could eat that every meal. And not eating potato chips was tough; chips are my vice, you can’t put that stuff in front of me. But once you see the results it motivates you to keep it going.

What’s a normal eating day during the season?
We eat very healthy here with the Giants. For breakfast I’ll have an omelette with turkey sausage, onions and cheese. Then I’ll have a snack around 10 o’ clock, I try to eat a little bit of food every couple of hours. Snacks are usually sliced deli meats, cheese, or nuts. For lunch today I had sliced steak on a salad and teriyaki chicken. There’s always a salad bar, there’s always a sandwich bar, and we’ll always have a rice or a pasta. I eat a lot of egg salad, it’s a good way to get little bit of fat in. You have to be able to fuel yourself with fat rather than carbs, which don’t always burn off as cleanly.

A lot of us eat to relax—I don’t drink, I don’t smoke, I don’t party. I like to eat.

Then I go home and eat whatever my wife or I want to cook for dinner. Tonight I’m going to make pesto fish with some vegetables. We cook almost every night, I find it’s a lot cheaper and so much more satisfying when you make your own food. Then I’ll have a little snack between dinner and when I go to bed, usually string cheese. And around 9pm I have casein protein, I’ve been doing that for about 10 years now. I just blend it up with water or put it in a shaker cup. It breaks down overnight, so it keeps your metabolism running a little bit longer and squashes that nighttime hunger, you know, when you go downstairs and grab yourself some ice cream.

Geoff Schwartz at home with his green egg grill

Professional football players: They’re just like us!

What’s your speciality in the kitchen?
I’ve got a couple. I get on the grill a lot. The one I make when I’m cooking for people is shrimp pasta. It’s fresh shrimp—never use the cooked shrimp—tomatoes, fresh basil, garlic, a little white wine, some shallots, a little linguine, a little butter. It’s great.

Does your diet change when you’re on the road?
Depends on what time of the year it is. If I’m traveling during training time, March through July, then I’ll stick to my diet. But during the season I don’t eat so well on the road, honestly. I’ll go to dinner and eat some carbs, nothing that’s gonna be terribly heavy but maybe some pasta. Then for a snack at night I’ll have some chicken wings, or lean beef or turkey burgers. The night before we typically turn up the carbs a little bit, but not day of game. I always eat a good breakfast before a game.

Does anyone on the team eat really badly?
Oh yeah. But I’ll say this, over the years the nutrition of athletes in the NFL has gotten a lot better. You still get a couple of young guys that can eat whatever they want before a game and it won’t affect them—well, not outwardly, I’m sure they’re still affecting their bodies by eating two cheeseburgers. But they get away with it.

Do you go out for meals as a team?
On the road we do all the time; it’s a fun bonding experience the night before a game. And after games we’ll go out and have a celebratory dinner. After the season’s over we typically go out for a meal as an offensive line. A lot of us eat to relax—I don’t drink, I don’t smoke, I don’t party. I like to eat. So we’ll go out to a steakhouse, and just kind of eat whatever’s in sight. It’s awesome.