Inside Russell Wilson's nine-meal, 4,800-calorie diet to cut weight

Russell Wilson’s diet consists of lean proteins, fruits and vegetables. It is also entirely free of dairy and gluten. Sheil Kapadia/ESPN

RENTON, Wash. -- When asked about Russell Wilson's focus on improved eating habits this offseason, Philip Goglia said he views himself more as a food coach than as a nutritionist.

"He was an animal about it," Goglia said of Wilson. "The f---ing guy buried himself in this, and it's epic to see, because that really validates him as a complete athlete."

Search for Goglia's name, and you'll find links to his work with a bevy of celebrities, including Kim Kardashian and Chris Pratt. An article on the Entertainment Tonight website labeled him the "nutritionist to the stars." But Goglia also has worked with plenty of athletes -- most notably NBA players Kevin Love, Carmelo Anthony and Rudy Gobert.

This past March, at the urging of his wife, Ciara, and former trainer Gunnar Peterson, Wilson found himself in Goglia's office in Santa Monica, California.

"He came in feeling as though he was too heavy and not mobile enough," Goglia said. "And he wanted to get his weight down. He was over 225. He felt as though he needed to be leaner and stronger and more agile. And that's my wheelhouse."

Injuries were the story of Wilson's 2016 season. He suffered a right high ankle sprain in Week 1 and an MCL sprain in his left knee in Week 3. Wilson never missed a game and earned praise from his teammates for playing through pain, but the injuries limited his mobility and essentially made him a non-factor in the run game.

Wilson rushed for a career-low 259 yards, and the Seattle Seahawks ranked 23rd in rushing efficiency. They'd never finished worse than seventh in Wilson's first four seasons. A side effect of Wilson's injuries was that he got heavier because of the limits on what he could do for conditioning.

"It was definitely tough," Wilson told ESPN.com. "I normally run a lot in practice and after practice, the off days and everything like that. And I couldn't really do much because of my ankle and my knee."

Standing in the hallway between the team's indoor practice facility and the locker room, Wilson breathed heavily in between sentences. He'd just put in extra conditioning work with the Seahawks' other quarterbacks following the team's final minicamp practice. It was precisely the type of work he couldn't participate in during last season when the main focus was to have him feeling his best on game day.

Wilson has paid attention to what he puts in his body since entering the league in 2012. He has had his own chef and has tried to eat healthy for years. But after 2016's injury-riddled campaign, he has re-examined many aspects of his usual routine in search of an edge. Wilson is hoping he has found one with a new meal plan that calls on him to eat nine times a day and cut out both dairy and gluten.

"Still doing it religiously," Wilson said. "Just trying to really focus on trying to eat really, really well and have great nutrition. I think it's critical. It allows you to wake up feeling good, feeling strong. It allows you to excel throughout the day and have tons of strength and energy. So I think it's really important for me. And I love food. I'm from the South, Virginia. So for me, I have to be really conscientious of what I eat. And also, my dad had diabetes. So I try to really pay attention to what I eat and try to do a really good job of that."

Goglia said when Wilson visited him in March, Wilson was consuming about 2,700 calories a day. Goglia bumped that number up to 4,800 when planning Wilson's meals. In other words, he wanted Wilson to eat more even as he was trying to cut weight.

"When you think metabolism, everybody will think fast or slow," Goglia said. "And it's not. Metabolism is ultimately hot or cold. The definition of a calorie is a heat-energy unit. So if calories are heat and metabolism is a function of heat, and if fat is a lipid and only converts to energy in a hot environment, it just makes sense that you have to eat a certain amount of calories to generate enough heat to burn fat. And that's counter-intuitive to every civilian out there.

"Every fat guy will say, 'Food makes you fat. I eat one can of tuna and an apple a day.' And that's why they're fat. Not enough caloric heat. Especially in athletes. Athletic temperatures are huge metabolically. They have a big metabolic load. The more muscle you have, the more food you need. That's the baseline concept."

So what has Wilson been eating?

The plan changes weekly, but typically, he starts with a tablespoon of almond butter and a tablespoon of jam before his first workout.

Next is a big breakfast that includes two cups of cooked oatmeal, six whole eggs, a fruit and a chicken breast.

Wilson's mid-morning snack is a fruit and 12 almonds, and then he has two separate lunches, each consisting of eight ounces of protein (two chicken breasts) with a yam or a cup of rice or a potato and a vegetable.

"One of the important things with Russell and the elite athletes is that none of the foods he consumes are inflammatory foods, which means no yeast, no mold, no dairy, no gluten," Goglia said. "Dairy's like eating moderately hard phlegm. It adversely affects oxygen. No dairy, no breads -- muffins, bagels -- nothing that is yeast, mold and gluten-bound. So starches are always one-ingredient guys like potatoes or rice or yams or oatmeal. If it's got more than one ingredient in it, he couldn't eat it."

In the late afternoon, it's another snack of a fruit and 12 almonds. Wilson later repeats that while adding in some whey protein.

At dinnertime, the main course is fish or steak and vegetables or a salad on the side.

"A fatty fish like salmon, sea bass, black cod, arctic char," Goglia said. "They actually increase your body's ability to promote deep REM sleep, reduce inflammation, release more growth hormone. So it's a very efficient protein to consume in the evening. And if not fatty fish, then steak. But a lean steak like a filet or flank or hanger steak. The high iron count in these red meats will also increase hematocrit and promote deep REM sleep."

The vegetables Wilson rotates in are beets, asparagus, kale and spinach.

And finally, there are two options before bed. If the next day is light to moderate training, it's a fruit and a tablespoon of blackstrap molasses, which Goglia said leads to a high energy level upon waking up.

If the following day involves more intense training, Goglia prescribes what he calls mash: shredded wheat, applesauce, almond butter and jam.

"You crunch all this s--- up in a bowl, eat it and go to bed," Goglia said.

Wilson said his chef makes the healthy foods taste good. Some of his meals are consumed at home, and others are prepared at the team facility with help from the Seahawks' nutritionist. During the spring, Wilson would bring food with him to the facility to make sure he stayed on track.

When Wilson first met with Goglia in March, he weighed over 225 pounds with 16 percent body fat. Recently, he measured in at 214 with 10 percent body fat. He said he's committed to staying with the program because he's seeing results, but the changes have not been easy.

"I love cheese -- hence Wisconsin," Wilson, a Badgers alum, said with a laugh. "I love cheese, so that's always something that you've got to be careful of."

Goglia allows Wilson to scratch that itch for one meal per week.

"Date night," Wilson said. "Ciara and I get to eat pretty good."

The meal structures are evaluated and adjusted every seven days, depending on how Wilson is feeling and his training schedule. But Wilson said he feels better than he ever has before and wants to play next season at 215 pounds or less.

"He really has a Ferrari-like structure metabolically," Goglia said. "But his metabolism is one that is so efficient, it'll bite him in the ass, too, if you're not on point with his particular lipid structure. If you're under calories, it'll crash and burn quick. But on foods, following the right pattern of balanced macronutrients -- like literally, a third, a third, a third for fats, proteins and carbs -- he'll change quickly, too. And that's exactly what he experienced."