Preparing the fuel that powers the Colts

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Do you ever wonder what it takes to keep professional athletes fit and at the top of their game?

For the Indianapolis Colts, it’s a science–one that begins at the molecular level.

At the team’s complex, each meal is planned a week in advance.

While big plays may finish in the end zone, they are fueled by the kitchen.

“We’re here from about 5 in the morning until about 8, 8:30 at night.” says Amber Simmons, director of food services. “All day cooking preparing for the next day.”

The chefs say they have to stay on top of their game as well. They know it’s an important part of performance.

“Putting the right fuel in the body is only going to help them, those sprints and making every catch,” says Anna Turner, team dietician. “Making sure they have good fuel that they want to eat is important.”

Turner says when planning those meals, it’s also important to know what the players are going through.

“How are they being worked out? How much energy is being expended in their body?”

She says the time of year also dictates the meal. During summer camp, they make sure the players have enough carbs to sustain them through multiple practices. In the regular season, they focus on fruits and vegetables, foods with anti-inflammatory properties to help with recovery.

Right now their plates consist of 50 percent carbs, 25 percent protein and 20 percent healthy fats.

The player’s position makes a difference as well. A wide receiver typically puts away about 2,000 calories a day. A lineman is typically knocking on the door of 3,000.

Simmons says the amount of food takes a lot of planning.

“We have to order it by the pallet full.”

If you think a pallet full sounds like a lot, Simmons says it doesn’t last long.

“That might last us a month, I would say.”

While the baked chicken may not get applause from the fans. The staff works hard to make sure it does from the athletes.

Turner says she asks those questions when she’s present at breakfast and lunch.

“Do they like it? Are they getting more? What are the things they are not eating and why?”

Next time you see a big catch, or a hard fought win, you may want to consider another set of hands, and a different kind of playbook.

“On Saturdays,  before they hit the plane, that’s exciting,” says Simmons. “You know you are feeding them their meal before they head away, or to their hotel. It just really makes us feel a part of the team.”

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