The rookie running back adjusts to life without Waffle House, McDonald’s, or Lory Fournette’s gumbo.
Before he was selected with the fourth overall pick of the 2017 NFL Draft, Jacksonville Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette first had to find a way to address persistent questions about his weight. Employing a running style reminiscent of Bo Jackson, Fournette finished his college career at LSU with 3,830 rushing yards and 40 rushing touchdowns in only three seasons. These eye-popping numbers were briefly forgotten, though, when surprised the league at February’s NFL Scouting Combine by tipping the scales at 240 pounds, making him the heaviest back in attendance. Although he was down to 228 by LSU’s Pro Day in April, Jacksonville still enforces a rule that allows them to fine him—at the rate of a cool $630 per pound—if his playing weight creeps above their preferred figure of 231.
Eight weeks into his first season, however, this odd-sounding arrangement appears to be working out just fine: Fournette leads the league in rushing yards per game, at a shade under 100, and is tied for the top spot in rushing touchdowns with six. The only thing that has managed to slow him down thus far, really, is an ankle injury that kept him sidelined during the Jaguars’ Week 7 win over Indianapolis. We recently caught up with the rookie to discuss how he’s adjusted his training to the rigors of the professional game; his fondness for certain late-night snack hangouts that are no longer on the menu; and the profound sacrifice involved in giving up his mother’s home cooking.
GQ: When they look back on how they used to eat in college, a lot of guys are surprised at how well they were able to perform given how little they knew about diet and exercise. What was your diet like at LSU?
Leonard Fournette: In college, me and my brother used to go to Waffle House at 2:30 in the morning! Sometimes, when my mom wasn’t there cooking for us, we would just go out to McDonald’s and eat, too. That was basically my diet.
So on a diet of home cooking, Waffle House, and McDonald’s, you were arguably the best running back in college football and the first one selected in this year’s draft. That doesn’t surprise you?
You know, not really, because I grew up on McDonald’s! I didn’t think eating the way I did and sleeping the way I was would affect my play until I got closer to the NFL. But the doctors kept saying that it was bad for my body, and now, if there’s anything bad for me like that, I just let it go. I just want positive vibes only.
One of the big sacrifices you had to make when you turned pro was cutting out your mom’s home cooking. What were some favorite meals of your mom’s, and what do you miss the most?
Man, every time I used to come in the house, my mom would have white beans, red beans, stuffed bell peppers, gumbo, and macaroni… My momma can throw down in the kitchen. Even though [giving up her cooking] was hard for me, though, it was one of the better choices for myself that I’ve made, along with getting more sleep and developing better eating habits. The next level is all about getting your body right, and I think I’ve done a good job at that.
What does your weekly schedule look like these days?
I come in and do a little workout on Monday. We have Tuesdays off. On Wednesdays, we lift again, and then on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, we just practice, going over little details in our gameplan for the week.
What does your gameday regimen look like?
First, I try and get a lot of sleep the night before. For breakfast, I’ll have some turkey bacon, scrambled eggs, fresh fruit, and a bottle of Life10 Electrolyte Alkaline water. Before the game, I’ll have one of the MET-Rx Big 100 protein bars with another bottle of water. My postgame meal is usually grilled chicken or shrimp with steamed vegetables or a salad, along with sweet potatoes. I’ll drink another bottle of the Life10 water, too. Right after the game, I get acupuncture, and the morning after, I’ll get in the hot and cold tubs to help my body recover so that I can get right back to it.
I try to stay on a pretty strict diet in order to maintain my weight, but I don’t really do the calorie counting stuff. We have a nutritional plan for each and every player. I know what I have to eat, and I just stick to that.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve gotten thus far on life in the NFL?
Your body is like a car: You have to maintain it and stay on top of things. And you have to get right on any little nick or injury you pick up along the way, so that it doesn’t become a long-term issue. Your body is everything to you in this sport, and you have to take care of it.
Jackie Chan, Undercover Online
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