Sports Nutrition

“Losing this weight helped me with closure. Finishing football after playing since I was six was hard, but this helped me realize that there is another chapter of my life, and it starts right now.” —Louie

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A Life-Changing Decision

Since his sophomore year at St. Francis University, Louie had worked with the sports nutrition team at UPMC Sports Medicine to gain and maintain muscle as a defensive lineman. In addition to working with several other Division I and professional athletic programs, the UPMC sports nutrition team provides nutrition services to all of the St. Francis athletes.

Weighing 270 pounds in March 2019, with graduation approaching in December, Louie decided to ask the team about a new nutrition plan — a weight loss and healthy living journey to help guide him into this new phase of his life. They jumped right in.

“When I first began working with the team for weight loss, I was a complete beginner,” Louie says. “I had no idea how to lose weight through nutrition, so I had to start with the basics, like what my plate should look like at each meal. It’s a lot to learn, but the team made me feel comfortable by encouraging me to ask questions, and that helped me so much.”

As Louie progressed with his meal plan, he learned a lot from the nutrition team, eventually understanding the most in-depth conversations about healthy fats, macronutrients, and more. Not only was he changing his body, but he was changing his habits and learning the tools to stay healthy for the rest of his life.

Finding Inspiration

A New Jersey native, Louie had moved home after graduation in 2019, but continued his journey with the sports nutrition team by email through February 2020. “I was skeptical about keeping this up long-distance,” Louie shares. “But it worked well over email. I still provide updates, and they help me stay on track.”

Of the challenge in changing his nutrition plan, Louie stresses what is perhaps the most important element of this process: self-motivation.

“You can’t be afraid. You have to want to do it, know why you’re doing it, and be willing to change your lifestyle,” he says. For example, one of Louie’s biggest hurdles was changing his relationship with food. Often, Louie would turn to food to celebrate milestones and accomplishments in life. But with the team’s help, he found confidence and new ways to celebrate.

Sharing the Journey

In January 2020, Louie met his first-phase goal of weighing in at 205 pounds — nearly 70 pounds less than he weighed only a year before. Phases two and three of his program focus on building core muscles, including working to sport six-pack abs.

Ultimately, Louie hopes to inspire other former football players by sharing his nutrition, weight loss, and fitness journey.

Many football players, especially those on the defensive line, are required to be great in stature and very muscular to satisfy the demands of their position.

So, when their years of playing football end, it can be difficult for athletes to cope both mentally and physically — especially those who had played from a young age and were required to gain weight for their position.

“Losing this weight helped me with closure,” Louie says. “Finishing football after playing since I was six was hard, but this helped me realize that there is another chapter of my life, and it starts right now.”


Editor's Note: This article was originally published on , and was last reviewed on .

About Sports Medicine

An athletic lifestyle carries the potential for injury. Whether you’re an elite athlete or a weekend warrior, UPMC Sports Medicine can help. If you are looking to prevent, treat, or rehabilitate a sports injury, our multidisciplinary team of experts can help you get back into the game. If you are seeking to improve your athletic performance, we can work with you to meet your goals. We serve athletes and active people of all ages and experience levels. Our goal is to help you keep doing what you love. Visit our website to find a specialist near you.