Shea McClellin had to change everything about his body and he didn't have much time.
After being drafted 19th overall by the Chicago Bears in 2012, McClellin bulked up to play defensive end. Weighing in at 266 pounds with 17.5 percent body fat, McClellin battled through two ok-but-not-spectacular seasons on the team's defensive line.
This past off-season, in an attempt to leverage McClellin's natural speed (he ran a position-group best 4.63 40-Yard-Dash during the NFL Scouting Combine), Bears coaches asked him to change his position to linebacker.
To make the move successfully, McClellin needed to slim down and speed up, but stay strong in the process. With the help of strength coach Scot Prohaska and nutrition specialists Dr. Eric Serrano and Scot Mendelson, he dropped nearly half of his body fat (to 9.5 percent) and gained 11 pounds of muscle. In just 10 weeks, he transformed himself from a slightly chubby lineman to an Ivan Drago lookalike.
Here's the workout McClellin used to get ripped.
What were his secrets? Hard work in the weight room, of course. But another important key was found in the kitchen. According to Prohaska and Mendelson, McClellin made three major changes to the way he ate—changes that could help any athlete looking to get lean while staying powerful.
Corral the Carbs
McClellin was a fan of carbs. And though there's nothing wrong with eating them—they are the body's preferred fuel source, and you need them to perform any athletic activity—overeating carbs can cause your body to store fat. Prohaska said McClellin was taking in too many carbs at every meal, and they were getting stored as belly fat.
Mendelson had McClellin limit his daily carb consumption to one gram per pound of his target bodyweight. McClellin weighs over 250 pounds, so he could continue to eat enough carbs to support his activity level, but not so many that would pack on extra pounds.
In addition to limiting his overall carb intake, McClellin took in smaller portions throughout the day. He also changed the type of carbs he ate, swapping out processed foods and white bread for slow-digesting carbs from foods like brown rice and sweet potatoes.
The only time McClellin might opt for faster-digesting carbs, like pasta or a sports drink, was after a workout. "The body is best positioned to make good use of carbohydrate following activity," Mendelson said. "The right carbohydrate sources support accelerated tissue repair and improved body composition."
Eat Fats (Without Fattening Up)
It seems counterproductive, but eating fat is an important part of smart weight loss.
"When I look at the fat consumption of athletes, the good dietary fat sources are often way too low," Mendelson said. This can lead to several problems, including joint pain, weak nails and thin hair. But most important, it can cause low testosterone levels. Without testosterone, muscles can't grow.
Mendelson suggests consuming healthy fats from whole food sources, like extra virgin olive oil, avocados, raw nuts and grass-fed beef. Skip any food that labels itself as "low-fat." And avoid items that contain trans fat, like margarine and cooking sprays.
Mendelson's plan for McClellin emphasized "high-quality" foods, meaning they come from the earth instead of a factory. "Real food that's existed for thousands of years is very effective," Mendelson said.
Mendelson had McClellin eat fruits and vegetables—preferably organic—at every meal, ideally paired with a source of organic lean protein. Since organic foods can be expensive, Mendelson recommends prioritizing grass-fed beef, which contains no unwanted hormones and antibiotics, but which provides healthier fats than commercially raised beef. If you have to opt for non-organic fruits and vegetables, thoroughly wash them to avoid chemicals and pesticides.
McClellin's Sample Meal Plan
- Eggs x 6-8
- Turkey Bacon x 2-6 strips
- Strawberries x 2 cups
- Raw Nuts (no peanuts) x ½ cup
- Beef Jerky x 6-8 oz.
Mix ingredients together
- Ground Beef (90% lean) x 10-13 oz.
- Green or Red Pepper
- Brown Rice x 1 cup
- Extra-Virgin Olive Oil x 1.5 tbsp.
- Peanut or Almond Butter x 3-4 tbsp.
- Seafood, Chicken or Steak x 8-12 oz.
- Sweet Potato
- Brown Rice x 1 cup
- Avocado x ½ cup
- Green Vegetables x 2 cups
- Peanut or Almond Butter x 2-4 tbsp.
- Berries x 2 cups
For more nutrition and diet advise, please email Scott Mendelson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock