“Hi, Scott. My son needs to gain weight for high school football but I’m wondering how much it will cost to feed him all of that extra food and not to mention supplements. It seems like he already eats A LOT!”
This took me back to my teenage days when my parents put a lock on the pantry for a couple of weeks around the Summer of 1980 when the reality of feeding 3 hungry teenagers set in. My brother, sister and I ate all of the time. Cereal, crackers, frozen meals, frozen pizza, frozen burritos – whatever we could find that was quick and easy so that we could get back to…whatever.
Since I’ve been working with more and more high school football players (14 as of this writing), I’ve accumulated a 3 year database of example after example of high school football players who simply don’t eat enough. I track their food everyday – 7 days a week, 365 days a year (well, we do take Thanksgiving and Christmas off). What I typically find is that the client may eat enough over a day or 2 but when I look at the long term over 1 month, 3 months, and longer, they simply don’t eat enough to support growth (building muscle and gaining strength). When dealing with active teenagers, there are a few things that have to be taken into account with regard to effective nutrition. What is their unique basal metabolic rate? What is their activity level? How many days a week are they active? What is their understanding of proper nutrition? Are they using an effective strength training program? What is their intensity level like in the weight room? Are new records being set consistently on basic exercises like squat, front squat, power clean, hang clean, bench press, and military press?
Building strength and size takes some time.
In my opinion, the perfect age to start the process is 14 or 15. Why? Because for boys, testosterone is beginning to kick in and tendons and ligaments are becoming stronger (important for heavier lifting). If they are playing high school football, hiring me as a strength coach now (early in the year – January) gives me plenty of time to get their nutrition down and to start an effective, systematic process of adding size before the next football season begins. To put this in perspective, I often ask my new athletes how long do they think it takes to build a pound of muscle? An hour, a day, a week, a month, 3 months? This varies, of course, based upon lots of factors such as: food intake, workout program, intensity, consistency, genetics, and hormone levels. In an ideal condition where all of the criteria are met, perhaps adding a p0und of muscle in a week is possible. Not every week, though. Stress, not eating enough, lack of intensity in the weight room, incorrect form, ineffective programming, rest and consistency will dictate how much muscle is added in the long term. My longest term athlete has been with me since December 2014 and has gained nearly 50 pounds of “good” weight. He’s the all time record holder for bench press (360 lbs), squat (530 lbs), power clean (300 lbs) and 4 core drill at Cedar Park High School. His nickname is “Bam Bam” and/or “Wreck It Ralph”. He’s had around 9 college offers to play football as of this writing and I have a feeling he’ll get more before he makes his decision.
A more recent high school football client has been with me since Fall 2017 and has gained 23 pounds (190 -> 213 lbs). His lifts (bench press, front squat, power clean, deadlift, just to name a few) are increasing consistently week in and week out. He trains with me in my garage gym 3 x week and will be a force on the football field come Fall 2018. We still have 7 more months to improve. There are many other weight gain success stories. I’ve created a numbers based, results based, effective strength and performance program that I feel confident will work with most any MOTIVATED high school football player. I cover nutrition, programming, goal setting and mindset with each client. It is individualized towards each client’s unique situation. They have to work HARD, though.
So, let me answer the question of how much does it cost to feed a high school football player each day so that he is eating enough quality calories and getting the proper macronutrients?
That’s a legitimate question. A lot of people tend to think that it will be expensive what with supplements and truck loads of food. Not to mention, time consuming, messy kitchens and complicated recipes. Rest easy! What if I told you that a tasty, nutritionally sound homemade breakfast cost only $1.69? Would that help you, as a parent, rest a little easier?
Below is a case study that I created which shows 5 meals and the cost per meal. Keep in mind, that as your reading this, think about the cost of a pizza, a trip to McDonald’s for breakfast, snacks at a movie theater, and expensive supplements.
Keep in mind that each athlete is an individual and each eats differently. This is just an example. I do not recommend that each client eat this exact way. Some don’t tolerate dairy, others don’t like some of the foods that I’ve listed. I pulled these meals from my database using various clients information. I used Walmart Grocery to determine prices. They (the prices) may not be 100% accurate but I feel it is close enough for the purpose of this article.
Daily meal plan of a 4100 calorie a day nutritional plan.
4 Eggs .44
Cheese .28 ounce
2 Waffles .50
2 ounces Syrup .26
8 ounces Milk .16
Fat 53.4g 44.9%
Saturated Fat 21g
Carbohydrates 100.5g 37.6%
Protein 47g 17.6%
Protein Bar .64
Cost $.64 / calories = 200 protein = 20g carbs = 16g fat = 6g
1/2 lb Turkey 3.20
2 slices Cheese .38
Fat 31g 27.2%
Saturated Fat 12.6g
Carbohydrates 112.3g 43.7%
Protein 74.8g 29.1%
Pro Gainer 1 scoop $2.20 (165 gram or 5.8 ounce serving at .38 ounce)
Cost $2.20 / calories = 650 protein = 60g carbs = 85g fat =8g
1/2lb Ground Beef 90 % $2.25
Sour Cream .13
8 oz Beans .50
8 oz Rice .50
2 Tortillas .18
Fat 45.8g 31.4%
Saturated Fat 21.4g
Carbohydrates 132.9g 40.5%
Protein 92.3g 28.1%
Fat 144g 30.4%
Carbohydrates 446g 41.9%
Protein 293g 27.6%
TOTAL COST = $14.62/day
Not bad for a growing teenager who is looking to gain size and strength for football.
More Good News!
Remember “Bam Bam” that I mentioned earlier? He’s the kid who’s gained 50 lbs. His currently daily calorie goal is 3648 calories. That’s nearly 500 calories a day LESS than in the example above. That means that the cost of feeding him each day could most likely be LESS than that $14.62 a day. Of course, you have to expect meals in which you dine out or order in BUT this information should give you some relief in terms of knowing that you wont have to take out a loan in order to feed your athlete effectively.
Some things that I look for each day with my weight gain clients are: protein intake, carbohydrates, fat, sodium and sugar. In the example above, the sodium intake is too high for my taste. I would encourage the athlete to lower their sodium to 2500 – 3000 mg a day. Some days, though, they are going to go over. I know that I certainly do. And yes, I track my food each day as well which is why I’ve been called the Warren Buffet of weight gain nutrition due to my nutritional savvy and results based methods. A little much? Well, maybe. But I’ve been called worse.
- Don’t guesswork your way to weight gain. Know the numbers.
- Don’t wait too late to begin this process. 14 or 15 is my optimal time.
- Don’t assume that it costs too much. As you acclimate your way around weight gain, you’ll come up with Crock Pot recipes, dinner leftovers, Insta Pot recipes to make your life easier. As your teen gets older, he (or she) can make their own meals.
- You may be spending more than $14.56 a day right now. Take out pizza, burgers, school lunches, expensive nutritionally empty snacks all add up quickly.
My parents took the lock off of the pantry after a couple of weeks. They got tired of us eating the wallpaper and we were much easier to live with with full stomachs.
P.S. Check out my new book on Amazon called “Mom’s Guide To Weight Gain For High School Football Players: 5 Proven Strategies”. Get a free sample or buy it at https://www.amazon.com/dp/B076FDC96G
P.P.S. Find out how to hire me as your Strength Coach (click here). My schedule is filling up as this time of year is prime time.