From protein shakes to coconut rice and peas, an inside look at how an NFL safety bulks up
- Listed at 5' 10" and 188 pounds, it's no surprise that the Colts safety is trying to gain weight. But for a man who's "not a big eater," that can be a big challenge.
Colts safety Darius Butler does not look like your stereotypical football player. At 5' 10" and 188 pounds, he’s actually smaller than the average American man. And he doesn’t eat like those football players you might remember cleaning out the buffet in high school, either. “All my siblings were not like me when it came to eating,” Butler says. “When we’d have chicken or some wings, I’d leave so much meat on the bone that they would go back behind me and finish it.”
This summer, that appetite became another obstacle for the nine-year pro to overcome. Indianapolis is looking for Butler to be a bigger run-stopping contributor in 2017, which means Butler is looking to be, well, bigger. With training camp starting in two weeks, the safety wants to report to Indy 10 pounds heavier than normal. And he’s got chef Raul Cunningham, who has cooked for the likes of Lawrence Timmons and Amar’e Stoudemire in the past, helping him. Here’s a look at the plan they’ve developed—which includes 45 grams of protein before lunch—and how Butler manages to eat it all (or at least most of it).
Wednesday food diary
BREAKFAST (9 a.m., all times approximate): Hulk vanilla shake—34 grams of fat, 145 grams of carbohydrates, 1500 calories, 24 grams of protein
Raul Cunningham: Darius picks this up at the gym every morning (it has one cup of unsweetened almond milk, one scoop of Monster Milk protein, half a tablespoon of flaxseed meal or chia seeds, one tablespoon of organic maple syrup or raw honey, one tablespoon of organic unrefined coconut oil and half a tablespoon of organic cacao powder—what trainer Pete Bommarito calls Butler's 'custom nutrient timing protocol'). He’s not a big eater, so the shake is a way to really jumpstart the day. It’s not just protein too, the carbs are important to give him energy for the workout. It’s moreso just a good source of fuel for a vigorous workout.
Darius Butler: I try to get it down in five or 10 minutes. I’ve bumped up the size this summer by almost double, and I’ve got to get it all down before this morning’s lower body workout.
SNACK (12:30 p.m.): Cliff protein bar—10g fat, 32g carbs, 275 calories, 21g protein
DB: The hardest parts of today’s workout were the Bulgarian squats and a bunch of box jumps, and then we went outside and did some speed work. It was in the upper 80s, but I’m from South Florida, so that’s nothing to me.
LUNCH (1:30 p.m.): Steak stir fry with Asian noodles—12g fat, 60g carbs, 550 calories, 29g protein
DB: This was delicious.
SNACK (4:30 p.m.): Roast beef sandwich—6g fat, 19g carbs, 95 calories, 14g protein
DB: After lunch, I played basketball with some friends. I don’t try to be as explosive as I used to—no dunks today—but it’s still really good cardio and helps get my appetite back up. I didn’t eat the roast beef sandwich though. I went for a muscle milk instead.
DINNER (6 p.m.): Roasted turkey loin, asparagus and roasted potato
DB: All of Raul’s food is great, but I’m not a big eater so I still have to force myself to finish it these days.
RC: I want the food to be as lean and healthy as possible so it’s all grilled or roasted, for the proteins at least. If I’m going to incorporate extra fat, it’ll be in the side.
BREAKFAST (9 a.m.): Hulk vanilla shake—34g fat, 145g carbs, 1500 calories, 24g protein
SNACK (12:30 p.m.): Cliff protein bar—10g fat, 32g carbs, 275 calories,/ 21g protein
LUNCH (1:30 p.m.): Crab cakes, parsnip puree, wilted spinach—12g fat, 32g carbs, 420 calories, 17g protein
DB: This one is easier to eat. It wasn’t a huge meal, plus I was hungry after some football-specific footwork training this morning. It wasn’t one of those force-yourself-to-eat-meals
SNACK (5 p.m.): Banana, dried fruitm muscle milk—2g fat, 60g carbs, 371 calories, 34g protein
DB: Skipped the fruit and went for just a muscle milk again.
DINNER (6 p.m.): Curry chicken, coconut rice and peas with sauteed cabbage
DB: Very, very good. This is something Raul knows I like. Curry Chicken or pepper steak with that coconut rice—those are my favorites.
Interested in cooking Butler’s favorite coconut rice? Cunningham provides the recipe for Jamaican rice and peas.
Jamaican rice and peas (not to be confused with Bahamian or Spanish rice and beans) is a Sunday tradition observed by many Jamaicans worldwide. Other Caribbean cultures have their own version of this dish referenced by other names but, the term “rice and peas” is used to describe the Jamaican version. Many smaller Caribbean island like Belize, Trinidad and Guyana have adopted the Jamaican version of this dish as their own. The peas in Jamaican rice and peas refers to kidney beans, though Gungo peas is a popular alternative.
1 15oz. can red kidney beans
2 13.5 oz. can coconut milk
1 stalk scallion
1/2 small onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 sprig thyme
2 tsp butter / coconut oil
1 tsp salt
1 uncut scotch bonnet pepper
1 tsp whole allspice
2 cup water
3 cup jasmine rice
Add beans and coconut milk to pot, and heat through. Add all other ingredients except rice. Cover pot and simmer for 10 minutes over medium heat. Add rice and stir with fork. Cover reduce heat to medium-low and let cook for 15–20 minutes. Check rice for tenderness. If done turn off the heat. If rice grains are still hard, add 1/4 cup of water and cook for an additional 5–7 minutes. Fluff with a fork.