Conventional meathead logic states that if you want to see massive gainz in your big muscly arms, you gotta pound approximately 6.38 grams of protein per pound of body weight each day. Usually, this is done in the form of multiple whey protein shakes and crushing all forms of meats — pounds on pounds of chicken breasts, steaks, double-decker tuna melts, bacon (because none of the fats matter if you’re getting those grams of protein, obviously), and did we already say chicken breasts? Yeah. Chicken breasts. Breakfast of champions.
And then, New England Patriots fans spent years laughing at, revering, and cracking jokes about the vegetable-laden TB12 diet, only to see TB12 replaced with a quarterback in Cam Newton who adhered to a diet almost as strict as the GOAT. In early 2019, Cam went vegan — or mostly vegan, if you want to get technical about it — and, well, you’ve seen Newton’s Instagram, you know a plant-based diet can still build muscle just fine.
Fast forward to the present day, and Patriots All-Decade D-lineman Lawrence Guy was the subject of GQ’s profile series “The Real-Life Diet,” where they profile everyone from all-star athletes to movie stars to at least one Jonas brother and Rob Zombie (who, fun fact, for as much as he loves buckets on buckets of blood in his movies, is also vegan). Turns out that Guy, who by virtue of his selection to the Patriots All-Decade roster was deemed the second-best defensive lineman this team’s been fortunate enough to have since 2010 other than the mighty Vince Wilfork, started going plant-based “a couple years ago” and has been going strong, figuratively and literally, ever since.
(Note: a quick few minutes on the Google machine reveals that Lawrence started eating vegan in the offseason almost a decade ago, in 2012 or 2013, by his own estimate. Now he’s transitioned to not only full-time vegan, but plant-based as well.)
You can check out the whole interview here; honestly, not only are the details of Larry Guy’s diet quite interesting, but it’s also one of the few times that a lot of us have probably ever heard him open up and speak at length about much of anything. Like fellow defensive cornerstone Stephon Gilmore, Guy tends to be the strong, silent type.
The key, apparently, is sweet potatoes. And lots of ‘em.
So when did this plant-based endeavor kick into gear?
I started going plant-based a couple years ago. Every offseason I wanted to truly help my body fully recover. My wife and I started taking out heavy red meat products and my body felt better, my joints felt better. I never really drank milk. Then we started taking out chicken. Then you go to the fish. We didn’t cut it down immediately. I needed to make sure I slowly worked myself into this. When people jump straight into it, you get the headaches and you start losing too much. We did it over the years, constantly going towards a more plant-based diet.
I’m including this line from an answer to another question just because it sounds like something, let’s say, we might make if we lived in Colorado, or Washington, or California, or Massachusetts:
That hummus pizza just blew my mind.
It’s about performance, though, right, especially if you’re on the (air quotes) “wrong side of 30,” so what changed when Guy dropped the meats and animal products and went full plant diet?
You’re not as bloated. You’re running and your knees don’t hurt as much. You stop waking up in the morning feeling groggy. Many people say they wake up after a hearty meal and feel bad and sick. I never wake up after eating a whole bunch of food and say, “Man, I feel terrible that I ate that last night.” You feel energized. When you take all the heartier stuff out and put the plant-based in, you don’t have to overwork to digest everything.
Real talk, anyone who’s older than, say, 25 years old knows exactly the feeling Lawrence Guy’s referring to with the knees. Even if we don’t play defensive line. Or exercise.
Funny enough, his go-to meal before practice is almost exactly the same as the one a lot of NBA players swear by:
My pre-practice meal is an almond butter and jelly sandwich.
From there it’s whatever the team has. Last year we had vegan tacos. I don’t know what their recipe was, but I hope it gets leaked. Everybody thinks it’s just eating salads. It’s actually having fun, it’s creating dishes. Creating those tacos, those lasagnas, those pastas, creating the pizzas. How can I enjoy eating?
And finally, what about the other kinds of body care does a in addition to cleaning up the diet?
What other maintenance do you do for your muscles?
I have a chiropractor, acupuncturist, PT, and a massage guy. I alternate days for them, with each coming twice a week. I have an alkaline machine in my house now, so I drink alkaline water every single day. We drink about a gallon or two of water a day. I do a lot of active stretching to maintain the strength in those muscles. I also go on walks with the kids to keep the body moving and flowing, swimming a little bit.
You just can’t stop in the off season. If you just stop and think you’re gonna be the same player, it’s not gonna happen. Once the season is over, my treatment picks up even more. I make sure I get treated every single day to maintain the physical shape I’ve been in and the muscles that need to be repaired from the season. Because you get beat up so much, you can’t ignore it. you need to replenish your muscles and repair, so once you get going again you’re not dealing with the same issues you were the year before.
Trench warfare remains a brutal, thankless part of this sport, and if Lawrence Guy can keep up his stalwart defensive line performance that snagged him a 4-year, $11.5 million extension this offseason, it’s safe to say we’re all for it.