As the Browns were finishing their Wednesday afternoon practice, Katy Meassick was just getting started.
She, along with two other staff members, were setting up a table beside the entrance to the facility. On the table: Gatorade post-workout bottles and smoothies, one for each player and coach.
Meassick is the Browns’ performance dietician, and she has a lot on her plate. After Browns practice, Meassick is easily found in the team cafeteria, making sure every player meets his personal goal with his respective diet. When players reported to training camp, they hopped in the Dexa Machine, which measures a player’s fat content and muscle.
“They get in and it’s a 3-minute scan time,” Meassick said. “We can see their lean mass vs. their fat mass. We want to make sure that where they’re starting out as far as a baseline goes, and we want to make sure that they’re ready for training camp.”
After the test is complete, Meassick sits down with each of them and develops a goal for their food intake, which foods to eat, a workout plan and more. As training camp unfolds, players come to her and use the Dexa Machine from time to time, tracking their progress.
“We can follow along to see how much muscle they’re gaining,” she said. “If they do lose some muscle, we can help put that back on and come up with a nutrition plan for that.”
The nutrition plans vary. They are different for safeties, wide receivers and corners compared to linemen. Linemen can burn between 3,000 and 5,000 calories on any given training camp session. They must replace those calories and eat enough to sustain their weight. The linemen load up on calories and food, but the calories aren’t bad calories and fried foods. They’re healthy, hearty foods.
Regardless of the player or position, food is the key. As much as the players work out, they have to eat constantly throughout the day. Players begin to show up as early as 5 a.m., and meetings can begin as early as 7:30 a.m. They leave late in the evening. During their time at the team facility, they eat. A lot.
“Hopefully, they’re eating at least seven to eight times a day,” Meassick said. “Depending on what their weight goal is, it may shift between different types of foods between those seven to eight times. Are they drinking enough water? Are they eating right for their energy that they expel? We want to make sure they have enough fuel in their tank to learn the playbook to go over the plays and to perform in practice to get better.”
In some instances, diet can lead to production. Wide receiver Corey Coleman, the Browns first-round draft selection in 2016, chimed in during the early stages of training camp about his production on the field. He said Jarvis Landry and Meassick helped him realize what he was eating wasn’t cutting it. Coleman was eating fried foods and other unhealthy dishes regularly, but with the help of Meassick and his teammates, he changed. Meassick now has him eating better foods, notably fish and vegetables.
There are, of course, moments when Meassick can’t control what the players eat. The bye week, for example, is when players can go home and revisit old meals they miss, such as their mom’s, girlfriend’s or wife’s cooking.
Although they get the week off, they have to stay in shape. It’s not on Meassick to monitor their eating habits during their hiatus.
“We want them to enjoy themselves, but not overdo it or undo what we’re trying to do throughout the season,” Meassick said.