What does a WWE superstar eat before a big event like this weekend’s WrestleMania? Not surprisingly, a lot.
The massive wrestling bonanza and highlight of the WWE television network will air on Saturday and Sunday without a live audience. We spoke with three pro wrestlers about their daily food habits leading up to the event — from how they stay in shape to their favorite guilty pleasure snacks, the restaurants they love and the foods they absolutely won’t touch.
In an industry that reveres body slams and beatdowns as much as chiseled abs and bikini shots, these pro wrestlers divulged the tricks that help keep them in shape for the ring.
Drew McIntyre, 34
What do you eat on an average day?
My diet is kind of weird. I eat stuff that I wouldn’t really suggest anyone eat, unless they have a really high metabolism. I have a TV show every week, and you want to look your best year-round. The week of WrestleMania I might cut the carbs just a little bit, but the night before, I find that if I eat something pretty substantial I’ll look fuller muscle-wise for the show. I have meal prep meals that I get from a company in Tampa. So I usually have about three or four of those throughout the day to supplement the other food I eat just to make sure I get enough. They have about 35 to 40 grams of protein.
Breakfast: On a regular day, I’ll set my alarm to get up early and I’ll go downstairs, feed the cats and eat one of the prep meals. Then, I’ll go back to bed. (Later), I’ll come back downstairs and make an actual breakfast — an eight-egg omelet with some bacon and cheese. The meal prep company also sent me some pancakes that are a little bit healthier than your average pancake, so I’ll have those along with the omelet.
Lunch: Around noon, I’ll have another one of the meal prep meals and try to work out after that. The next meal might be something a little bit larger — maybe tacos made with the entire package of meat — or we’ll order some Mexican food in. Sometimes we’ll make salmon. I like big portions of that, too.
Dinner: I’ll probably eat one more time and it’s likely one of the meal preps with a lower carb count at nighttime. As long as I get five meals in — that seems to kind of be the key for me to stay at my ideal weight, although the calories vary. I honestly can’t really estimate how many calories a day I take in, but maybe around 4,000. I don’t really know. That’s what I need to stay in the 265 to 270 (pounds) region, or I’ll just cut right down to 225 to 230 (pounds) if I don’t eat enough.
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Do you drink any alcohol or anything else besides the protein shakes?
I’ll drink some energy drinks pre-workout and coffee. That’s the one thing I could probably do a little less of.
Are there any foods that you hate?
I don’t have a sweet tooth and I never eat dessert.
Average daily calories: About 4,000
Natalya Neidhart, 37
What does your daily diet look like?
(At the time of this interview) I filmed Monday Night Raw in New York, then flew back home to Tampa on Tuesday morning. So I had a really early morning, I got up around 4 a.m.
Breakfast: I went to the Sky Lounge in the LaGuardia airport and had a little bit of Greek yogurt and a cappuccino with skim milk. I always like to have a little bit of coffee in the morning — it’s more of a ritual for me than the taste. I like to sit and have 15 minutes to myself to just drink my coffee and reflect and think about what my day is going to be like. They served a breakfast burrito on the plane. To be brutally honest, I don’t really love airplane food, but no matter what, you can make something out of nothing. I had a couple of bites, that that way I could feel like I was getting a little bit without all the calories. Then I just had water on the plane. Whenever I travel I try to hydrate as much as possible. I hate that dehydrated feeling, it makes me super tired. They also served some fresh fruit so I had a little bit of that. That way when I landed I didn’t feel too bloated or heavy.
Lunch: Every week I get a meal prep kit from a company that a lot of us WWE superstars use — it’s called Nutrition Solutions. They give me about eight meals a week. My husband and I are both on the road a lot so we try to share them. One meal will have like 350 calories in it and will be something like turkey breast with veggies and a little bit of rice. I love having those because it saves me from going to the grocery store every day when I need to eat fresh but it also helps me keep track of my calories, because calories add up!
Dinner: Around 5 p.m. I had a protein shake and I went to go workout. I don’t like to eat a lot before I work out because I don’t want to be running on a full stomach. So I’ll usually have, like, a banana with some peanut butter or a protein shake. After my workout my mom and I had dinner at GrillSmith, one of my favorite restaurants in Tampa. By that time, it was 7 p.m. and I was starving. We love their pumpkin crab bisque — it’s made in house every day it’s so good. It’s one of my favorite things to eat and I swear I go to that restaurant just to eat that. So we shared that and we had a blue cheese wedge salad and then a sirloin steak. My mom and I always split our meals. She’s lost 30 pounds in the last year and I’m getting ready for WrestleMania so I’m trying to watch my weight a bit. We also each had a glass of wine.
What about a nightcap?
I was just in Canada, in Winnipeg. And though I live in Tampa, I was born in Calgary and they have the best chocolate! So I picked up some chocolate bars and ketchup chips. I got my favorite chocolate bar, it’s called Caramilk — it’s this amazing milk chocolate with caramel inside. I had a couple of pieces and my mom and I split a snack-size bag of ketchup chips, and I’m not sorry that I did.
What does staying in shape for a big event like WrestleMania entail?
I like to have six meals a day, with each meal being 300 to 400 calories. And I work out pretty religiously, about six days a week. With an event as big as WrestleMania, because of all of those eyes on you, it is important to look good. It is important to tighten things up, depending on what you’re going to be doing in the show and how you want to feel, but I have a couple of rules. I never get on a scale; I always go by how my clothing fits. I’m really muscular, so for me, I know that I’m going to heavier because of all the muscle that I have, at least more so than someone who doesn’t have to lift bodies or body slam girls for a living. But I do watch my portion sizes. I also really try to cut out eating late at night. I also don’t really like sweets that much. I don’t really crave cakes or cookies or donuts. I also try to avoid processed foods. But I will not give up my Canadian chocolate!
Any guilty pleasure foods?
My mom is the most incredible cook. If I had to pick one last meal, it would be her ribs. She makes her own homemade barbecue sauce. And at Thanksgiving, her stuffing is incredible.
Since you live in Tampa, can you share some of your favorite spots to eat?
I really like Ulele. They have craft beer, homemade ice cream, really fresh food and the ambiance is just beautiful. Even though I travel across the world, I love being able to support local restaurants. There’s also a sushi spot called Bonsai Sushi, it’s in Wesley Chapel. I love fresh fish and I love that traditional ginger salad dressing — it’s so clean and crisp.
Average daily calories: 2,500
Kofi Kingston, 38
What’s an average day of eating look like for you? I gave up red meat and dairy years ago and last June I gave up chicken and fish. So I’m technically a vegan. My main paranoia about going meatless was getting the protein in. I make sure to supplement with protein shake throughout the day, and I’ll have a protein shake in the morning in addition to some eggs and potatoes, anywhere between four and six eggs. (For lunch) I’ll a big fan of Beyond Burgers — they have a good amount of protein in them and it’s pretty healthy, all things considered. I also like to get the Chipotle Sofritos bowl and that gives me (a lot of) my protein. Then I’ll usually have one or two more protein shakes throughout the day. I also make sure to eat a lot of vegetables throughout the day — mostly broccoli, because it has the most protein, and a lot of kale and spinach.
How many calories do you consume in a day?
I try to get in right about 3,500. My metabolism is real fast so I just need to make sure that I get all those calories in. I have an app that I track all my meals on, so it tells me how much protein I’ve eaten and how many calories I’ve had.
Favorite guilty pleasure?
A good pancake, just because you have so many varieties. Not to say anything bad about plain pancakes — those are good, too — but I mean, like, a red velvet pancake or a pumpkin pie pancake or a s’mores pancake. So yeah, a decadent pancake would be my guilty pleasure.
Sounds like you’ve got a sweet tooth.
I do! That’s probably my biggest problem, my sugar intake. But I’m trying to watch it.
Are there any foods that you actively avoid?
Just meat. A lot of people go vegan or vegetarian because of the health concerns, and for me, that’s partially it. But I’ll read a couple of articles and just get grossed out.
What about drinks?
I’m not a big beer guy. My absolute favorite alcoholic beverage is Moscato, especially from the Olive Garden. It’s a real, real sweet wine — it feeds my sugar addiction, which is great.
How important is managing your weight for your wrestling career?
I think for me it’s just important that I get those calories in. The main thing is to be consistent if you’re really trying to bulk up — I didn’t really know that until I hit adulthood. I usually (weigh) around 200 (pounds) or so. I think a lot of people get fixed on a number. But, if you worry about how you look then worry about how you look. The number isn’t really going to affect that. Let’s say you weigh like 400 pounds, but if you look like a Greek god, then you’re probably okay with that. The other thing is about how you feel — it’s really about how you feel over anything else.
Average daily calories: 3,500