To compete at the highest level in strongman, athletes need to eat an extremely calorie-dense diet. Constant food consumption is often required to maintain mass and provide the necessary energy to deadlift more than 700 pounds for reps or yoke walk a half-ton down a course as fast as possible. Four-time World’s Strongest Man (WSM) champion Brian Shaw is no stranger to the ongoing need to feed. Even at age 39, he is still one of the best the sport of strongman has to offer — he finished as the runner-up at the 2021 WSM contest where a single event, the Atlas Stones, stood between him and a record-tying fifth WSM title.
Shaw recently took to his YouTube channel to update his 1.66 million subscribers about the adjustments he made to his diet in preparation for the first-ever strongman contest at the 2021 Rogue Invitational. Shaw has bounced around from five-digit calorie diets in his early days of strongman down to sub-6,000 calories in early 2021. Currently, he is settling for a spot closer to the middle of that spectrum — a 9,700 calorie per day diet. Check out Shaw’s trip to Costco to load up the goods for his fridge:
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Shaw opens the video with an admission of how difficult his current training regimen has been. He feels “beat up” despite all of the recovery work he added into his routine. The change to his diet stems from a need to get enough calories his body can use to prevent soreness between training sessions.
Staying fresh in the gym is vital right now for Shaw, as the 2021 Rogue Invitational is the most important contest of the year when viewed purely through the lens of prize money. The million-dollar-plus prize pool split across the strongman contest, and the CrossFit competition will be the largest prize purse for any strongman contest ever.
[Nathan Payton] sent me a new diet. I need to go to the store and get the food to execute that diet.
A few conversations with his nutritionist, Nathan Payton, and Shaw got the increase in daily calories he was looking for. In early 2021, Shaw’s diet hovered around 5,500 calories per day. His runner-up finishes at the 2021 WSM, and 2021 Shaw Classic proved that that diet was effective.
The first stop in the Costco for Shaw is the produce section. As part of his new diet, Shaw is allotted his choice of fruit from a specific set of options. Shaw’s go-to? Honeycrisp apples. Accompanying his fall harvest favorite is blackberries and blueberries. Despite his taste for orange juice, Shaw tends to steer clear of actual oranges. The next pickup in the produce section is a lot of spinach and spring mix salads for some added volume.
When not eating the meat from the meal delivery service Trifecta®, Shaw does enjoy grilling up some steak. He grabs the red meat alongside multiple cases of bottled water. Although not directly part of this diet, Shaw also snags bathroom wipes as “staying clean, staying fresh” is essential when changing diets.
Shaw is a man of well-rounded plates, and considering he picked up his protein (which is also a source of fat), he needs to pair it with a good carbohydrate. When at Costco, that means Shaw picks up a 50-pound bag of rice. A few jars of pasta sauce fall into his shopping cart, and Shaw moves on to an essential aspect of his new diet.
When Shaw was following a more caloric diet, he was known to put away some desserts. One of Shaw’s favorite options for added fat and sugar is cheesecake. His new diet currently does not allow for cheesecake, but Shaw is anticipating a cheat meal at some point between now and Halloween weekend when the 2021 Rogue Invitational occurs. He grabs a box of mini cheesecakes from the frozen food aisle in preparation for that impending cheat meal.
While waiting in line to check out, Shaw pulled up Instagram and saw a post from raw bench press world record holder Julius Maddox. Maddox claimed he is the greatest basketball player with a bodyweight of at least 400 pounds in the post.
Shaw points out that Maddox seems to have forgotten that Shaw played college basketball at Black Hills State University in Spearfish, South Dakota.
I feel like that’s a bold claim and a claim that you, Julius Maddox, cannot make right now.
Will we see a battle between Shaw and Maddox on the basketball court? Considering 2017 WSM champion Eddie Hall and 2018 WSM champion Hafthor Björnsson transitioned to boxing, who’s to say Shaw and Maddox can’t trade barbells for basketballs?
Onto the Rogue Invitational
It is unclear if changing his diet with less than a month to go until one of the biggest strongman contests of the year. Given that the 2021 Rogue Invitational marks the return of 2019 WSM champion Martins Licis and the second contest back for two-time WSM runner-up Mateusz Kieliszkowski since recovering from their injuries, it will not be an easy contest to win.
Do more calories translate to better strongman performances? Shaw is going to prove it one way or the other.
Feature Image courtesy of Brian Shaw’s YouTube channel.