Talking Nutrition with former MLB Player Lance Berkman

Next Level Podcast with Host Tavis Piattoly, MS, RD, LD

Lance Berkman- Podcast

Lance Berkman
Played 15 years in the Major Leagues with the Houston Astros, New York Yankees, St. Louis Cardinals, and most recently with the Texas Rangers. He has tried different baseball player diets earlier in his career and has found that his focus on nutrition aided his performance and recovery from injury.

Lance Berkman has played 15 years in the Major Leagues with the Houston Astros, New York Yankees, St. Louis Cardinals, and most recently with the Texas Rangers. Some of his accomplishments include:

  • Winner of the 2011 World Series with St. Louis.
  • Six time All-Star (2001–02, 2004, 2006, 2008, 2011)
  • Named the NL Comeback Player of the Year in 2011
  • 3rd among active players (36th all-time) in on-base percentage (.409)
  • 9th among active players (32nd all-time) in slugging percentage (.545)
  • 4th among active players (19th all-time) in OPS (.954)
  • Led NL in doubles (55) in 2001.
  • Led NL in RBI (128) in 2002.
  • Holds the National League record for most single season RBIs (136) as a switch hitter.
  • Holds the National League record for most single season Home Runs (45) as a switch hitter (tied with Chipper Jones) 

Download>>Top 10 Nutrition Tips for Baseball Tournaments

In this podcast you will learn:

  1. Lance's dietary habits when he first entered the league?
  2. His highest playing weight vs. where he is today?
  3. His body transformation and work with trainer Ben Fairchild and how this improved his performance? 
  4. Some the challenges you face nutritionally with a long season and does his weight fluctuate during the season?
  5. How does he manage to eat healthy when traveling from city to city?
  6. The types of food available in the clubhouse for players and do some ballparks have healthier options than others?
  7. Does he get hungry during a game, especially one that may go into extra innings? What type of food does he pack (nutrition bars, nuts, or any type of snack to have if needed)?
  8. Players he has seen during his career that have terrible eating habits but still go out and go 3 for 4 with 2HR’s and 6 RBI’s?
  9. Whether he has any superstitions before a game?
  10. Any strange food superstitions from teammates where they must eat the same thing before a game?
  11. Any advice to our listeners, especially our young athletes about the importance of nutrition?
  12. His plans after baseball?

Podcast Transcript

0:00 Tavis Piattoly Introduction

1:55 Lance's dietary habits when he first entered the league

  • Lance wanted to increase his chances of being a first round draft pick and decided to get into nutrition his sophomore year of college. 
  • He would count calories and eat a lot of rice cakes. He did lose some weight and was in good shape by his junior year, but he knows he did not do his nutrition the right way. Lance noticed that he felt grumpy and miserable when following the diet earlier in his career. 

6:56 His highest playing weight vs. where he is today

  • Lance maintained a good playing weight of 215-220 lbs. for majority of his career; the heaviest he has ever been was in 2010 during Spring Training when he had knee surgery. Lance gained about 10 lbs. making his heaviest weight around 230 lbs. 

9:00 His body transformation and work with trainer Ben Fairchild and how this improved his performance

  • Ben taught Lance how to train correctly, what to train for, and how to eat when training. Ben developed an eating plan for Lance that he followed regularly 
  • Lance started having leg problems in 2009 and pulled a calf muscle. He realized that eating better makes a significant difference on his career and he wish he started eating right much sooner, before his injury and surgery. 

11:35 Some the challenges you face nutritionally with a long season and does his weight fluctuate during the season

  • The biggest challenge Lance faces nutritionally is the strange eating times related to baseball, because you play games starting at 7 o’clock in the evening which lasts until about 10:30 or 11 pm. And then you wind up eating a big meal really late at night and sometimes you get up later the next day, so you don't really start eating until 10:30 or 11 am. The eating schedule is hard to follow. 
  • Another challenge Lance faces is when traveling on the road and you get out late at night, there’s not a lot of food options to choose from. Sometimes the visiting city doesn't serve food that’s reasonably healthy and sometimes that is what you’re stuck eating, junk or restaurant foods.

15:05 How does he manage to eat healthy when traveling from city to city

  • Lance manages to eat healthy when traveling from city to city by planning ahead, which is tough. 
  • Most guys go with the flow and eat whenever and wherever, and not paying attention to what they’re eating. 
  • MLB now makes an effort to get with clubhouse attendants throughout the league that offers better options for the athletes to eat when at their facility. 

17:30 The types of food available in the clubhouse for players and do some ballparks have healthier options than others

  • This is dependent on the city. 
  • Also to note, the clubhouse gets tipped according to how well the guys take care of the MLB players.

19:10 Does he get hungry during a game, especially one that may go into extra innings? What type of food does he pack (nutrition bars, nuts, or any type of snack to have if needed)?

  • Players find themselves getting hungry towards 7-8th inning. 
  • Most of the time players will grab a banana or nutrition bar.
  • When he was a rookie, not all teams had a strength and conditioning coach.
  • Most strength coaches have bars and supplements available to their players during the games.

21:40 Players he has seen during his career that have terrible eating habits but still go out and go 3 for 4 with 2HR’s and 6 RBI’s

  • Yes, he has seen this occur.
  • Do not need to be in tip top cardiovascular shape that can still perform great. However, now players are spending the off season to get into shape in order to perform during the training season.

23:57 Whether he has any superstitions before a game

  • He does not have any superstitions.

24:20 Any strange food superstitions from teammates where they must eat the same thing before a game

  • Wade Boggs eats fried chicken before every game.
  • Matt Garza eats fried chicken too.
  • Craig (?) would eat specific colored peanut M&M’s during the game based on his performance.

25:46 Any advice to our listeners, especially our young athletes about the importance of nutrition

  • Get with a sports dietitian because there is a lot of misinformation out there.
  • There is no shortcut to success. You need to put in the work and watch for harmful supplements.

27:35 His plans after baseball

  • Potentially coaching because he likes given information to younger players. 
  • He has also thought about doing some broadcasting.

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