Football players, and especially offensive linemen, are often pressured to consume massive amounts of calories to maintain their playing size, develop dangerous habits and eating disorders in the process. When retirement comes, the processes of losing weight can be just as complicated as gaining weight.
But while Okung’s methods for achieving a healthier weight were drastic and controversial – That’s what experts tell USA Today that people shouldn’t try to fast during that period without medical supervision — other former NFL players have lost weight in retirement by making simple changes to their diets, like cutting out carbs and swapping red wine for beer.
Below is a look at 19 players who physically transformed after their careers ended.
Okung last played in 2020. He recently shared a photo of his body transformation with the caption “Reborn”.
“Trophies, awards, I wanted it all,” Okung said. “I would quickly find that it was all empty. It didn’t matter. It was nothing. I didn’t have a relationship with my wife, with my children. I didn’t even know who I was. So I prayed. I asked for guidance, for wisdom. And it came to me. I knew in that moment there was one answer: fasting. Prolonged water-only fasting. I did it.”
“It’s scary when people (with big platforms) share these things and then everybody says, ‘I’m going to do it,'” Krista Varady, a nutrition professor at the University of Illinois, Chicago, told USA Today. “Anything over five days, do not do this on your own and definitely not if you have any medical condition.”
10-time Pro Bowler and future Hall of Famer Joe Thomas is considered one of the best offensive linemen of all time.
He spent most of his career playing at 310 pounds and told the NFL Network he was “more anxious to lose weight than almost anything else in retirement.”
He is now an analyst for the NFL Network. It took less than nine months after his last NFL game to lose 50 pounds.
When asked how he did it, he laughed and said“You just don’t eat until you feel like throwing up at every meal and suddenly the weight just falls off.”
Thomas told ESPN that a typical meal during his playing days might have included eight eggs, three pancakes, pasta, meatballs, two protein shakes, an entire pizza, a piece of cookie and a bowl of ice cream. If he went to McDonald’s, a typical order would be two double cheeseburgers, two McChickens, a double quarter pounder with cheese, a large order of fries and a large soda.
Pro Bowl offensive lineman Marshall Yanda played his final NFL game at 312 pounds, retiring after the 2019 season after 13 years in the league, all with the Baltimore Ravens.
Five months after retirement, Yanda was down to 248 pounds by exercising and eating less.
He told “The Pat McAfee Show,” “I didn’t really realize at the time how much I was doing to keep the weight off, but obviously it’s gone very quickly and I feel so much better.”
Mike Pouncey, who played 9 seasons as a center for the Dolphins and Chargers, lost 70 pounds after retiring.
He recently told the media that he and his twin brother “ate like pigs” as players and now eat like rabbits.
His brother, former Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey, was never the biggest lineman but was still listed at over 300 pounds during his playing days.
Just two years after retirement, he now looks more like a linebacker or safety.
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David Pollack weighed as much as 297 pounds as a defensive lineman in college, and last played in the NFL in 2006 as a 260-pound linebacker for the Bengals.
David Carter was a 300-pound defensive lineman for the Cardinals and Cowboys.
Carter lost 40 pounds in 6 weeks after going vegan and became a model.
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Jeff Saturday was a 295-pound center who spent most of his career with the Colts and retired after the 2012 season.
Saturday, left, now weighs 238 pounds and runs a program that helps former players learn about healthy living.
Longtime Patriots star Vince Wilfork was listed at 325 pounds in his playing days, but when he last suited up for the Texans in 2016, he was likely much taller than that.
But despite being a well-known lover of food and a BBQ ambassador, he has changed his habits since retirement.
“The only change in my diet is really the amount I eat,” Wilfork told Insider, estimating that he’s lost about 80 pounds since retiring. “After soccer, I get full a lot faster. My appetite isn’t what it used to be.”
He also credited his lifelong commitment to being disciplined and drinking plenty of water.
“My son’s baseball team practiced three, four times a week,” Wilfork said. “So I’d always be in the Houston heat and I’d drink gallons and gallons and gallons of water. That’s how I lost it. It just kept dropping.
“I love it because I’d come home at eight o’clock at night and I’d eat a salad or something smaller and I’d go to bed.”
Jordan Gross was a 3-time Pro Bowler as a 300-pound offensive lineman with the Panthers.
Seven months after his retirement following the 2013 season, Gross looked much closer to 200 pounds when he visited training camp.
In an interview with ESPN, Gross called his game size “artificial,” noting that people aren’t meant to be that big. During his career, he loaded up on protein and told the outlet that in one day he could eat six pieces of bacon, six scrambled eggs, two 50 gram protein shakes, four hard-boiled eggs and two chicken breasts” and that was all before 2 p.m.
Gross also told ESPN that he lost weight by trying different diets, including paelo and being vegetarian, to the point where he thinks he became a bit obsessed with losing weight. After getting as low as 225 pounds, he backed off and sat around 240.
Antone Davis (No. 78) was a 330-pound offensive lineman who grew to 475 pounds after he retired in 1997.
Davis was a runner-up on NBC’s “The Biggest Loser,” where he lost more than 200 pounds.
Nate Newton (No. 61), a 320-pound offensive lineman, played most of his 14-year career with the Cowboys before retiring in 1999 and ballooned to nearly 400 pounds in retirement.
He was able to get down to 220 pounds in 2010 after surgery to remove 75% of his stomach.
Tony Bergstrom, an offensive lineman who played for 5 teams in 10 years, hasn’t retired yet, but already has a plan for when he will.
“I already wrote out the diet plan,” Bergstrom told the Washington Post. “Offensive linemen go one of two ways: You either balloon up or you shrink to nothing. I’d rather shrink to nothing. Three months later you’re going to see a completely different person. I’ll walk in and you’ll be like that, I don’t know who it is.”