STRONGMEN ARE KNOWN for their size and strength. And when “training” often means “deadlifting 1,000 pounds” or “pulling a plane,” it’s no surprise that a strongman’s diet can also be extreme.
For the first time, Brian Shaw, the World’s Strongest Man, shared a full day of eating ahead of the World’s Strongest Man 2017 competition, which begins on May 20. And as you’ll see, he makes the average person’s entire day of eating look like an afternoon snack. Between big training days, the six-foot-eight, 435-pound athlete eats over 12,000 calories—and yes, he cooks most of it himself.
“This diet is to make me as strong as I possibly can, so it’s not the Mark Bell no-carb diet,” Shaw says. “I’m just eating to be the strongest human being on the planet.”
While he’s no professional chef and keeps his diet simple and effective, Shaw says he tries to season food well to make it easier to eat. His nutritionist, Nathan Payton, gives him some freedom, but he ensures that every meal throughout the day has the protein and carbs that Shaw needs to support his intense training.
Here’s a run-down of Shaw’s 12,000-calorie day:
Meal 1: Breakfast
To start the day right, Shaw downs eight eggs, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, and peanut butter. “One thing that I’ve learned over the years with eggs is that you don’t want to cook them too long,” he says. “You want to make sure they’re still soft, because in a big quantity, they’re easier to eat if they’re a little bit softer.”
Nutrition: 68g protein, 74g carbs, 68g fat, 1,180 total calories
Meal 2: Protein shake/snack
Just about an hour later, Shaw whips up an iSatori whey protein shake with 80g of protein (mixed with water). He tops the meal off with two granola bars and some peanut butter.
Nutrition: 115g protein, 92g carbs, 25g fat, 1,053 total calories
Meal 3: Lunch
Shaw takes pasta with meat sauce to the next level with extremely generous portions of organic, grass-fed ground beef, angel hair pasta, and red sauce. He recommends organic, grass-fed beef (preferably bought directly from the farmer) because he feels it’s a lot easier to digest than typical grocery store ground beef.
Nutrition: 172g protein, 191g carbs, 82g fat, 2,190 total calories
Meal 4: Protein shake/snack
His second shake consists of 80g of iSatori whey protein mixed with almond milk, frozen organic blueberries, and peanut butter. “This is a nice one for me because I can get it in quick,” Shaw explains. He just blends it up and “slams it down.”
Nutrition: 112g protein, 89g carbs, 22g fat, 1,002 total calories
Meal 5: Post-lunch/pre-dinner
For his fifth meal of the day, Shaw cooks 93% lean organic ground turkey, white Jasmine rice, and broccoli. This puts his daily total at about 7,000 calories with a few meals to go.
Nutrition: 117g protein, 145g carbs, 41g fat, 1,417 total calories
Meal 6: Dinner
Dinner is Italian takeout, which Shaw explains is different than what his usual meal would be. “The scenario that we have is that tomorrow is a huge even training day for me, so I’ll be putting out a lot of effort for training,” Shaw explains. After updating his nutritionist, Nathan Payton, on the previous night’s deadlift and the next day’s training, Payton recommended he go heavy on the carbs. Typically, meal five would be another pound of beef with potatoes and asparagus. They estimated the calories to be around 3,430.
Nutrition: 16g protein, 704g carbs, 72g fat, 3,430 total calories
Editor’s note: The nutrition information wasn’t provided for this meal, so we subtracted the sum of the reported macros from the rest of the meals from the total reported macros in the video.
Meal 7: Nighttime snack and protein shake
Everyone loves a midnight snack, but few go as hard in the kitchen as Shaw does before bed. This meal includes four—yup, four—pieces of cheesecake and an iSatori Bio-Active whey protein shake with 80g of protein.
Nutrition: 105g protein, 107g carbs, 89g fat, 1,649 total calories
DAILY TOTAL: 12,019 calories, 705g of protein, 1402g of carbs, 399g of fat
Clearly, executing 1,000-pound deadlifts takes a lot of fuel. “This was a big day of eating, especially because I didn’t get to spread it out as much as I would’ve liked,” Shaw explains. In case you’re wondering, all of this eating took place over a span of about 13 hours.
Shaw makes it clear that eating this much is tough, even for someone who can literally tow a fire truck with his bare damn hands. The night before the video was filmed, he flew home and got to training late, but even then he got his food in and didn’t finish eating until two in the morning.
“It’s constant,” he says, “all day long I have to eat, but it’s part of the job.”