Cam Newton’s Diet Is Being Blamed for His Poor Play

Football fans haven’t seen much of Cam Newton during the 2019 season. Newton has been sitting on the sidelines as his team widdles away at their competition. Even when he did play, during the first two weeks of the season, he was far from the dynamic quarterback fans expected to see. Slower and more unstable, fans wondered what was going on with Newton. Newtown blamed his ankle for his poor play, but everyone is talking about his decision to try out a vegan diet. Is veganism to blame for Newton’s poor performance early in the NFL season?

Cam Newton went vegan, and his game went with him

Newton hasn’t enjoyed a successful 2019 football season. He took the field for just two games this season with less-than-stellar results. He later blamed a lingering injury for his poor gameplay and has sat on the sidelines ever since. His replacement, Kyle Allen, has lit up the field, winning four straight games.

Fans of the Panther’s play-caller are blaming his vegan lifestyle on his poor gameplay through games one and two. It’s not as simple as that, though. An ankle injury has influenced Newton’s play, but his inability to bounce back from that injury could be directly linked to his decision to forgo eating animal products.

Cam Newton before their game against the Los Angeles Rams at Bank of America Stadium
Cam Newton | Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images

The Charlotte Observer discussed Newton’s veganism with Chris Howard, a certified nutritionist, to find out what might be going on. Howard surmises that the lack of nutrients that is common in a plant-based diet might be the cause of his lingering ankle issues. Howard noted that Newton had previously adhered to a pescatarian diet.  He said, “Now you take away the most valuable part of that (diet), and … there’s just no way around it: He can’t recover as well with less nutrients, with less calories and with less muscle mass. It’s just not going to happen.” It doesn’t look like Newton has any plans to give up his lifestyle choice, though.

Is Veganism a problem for NFL players?

Veganism has taken the NFL by storm. In 2018, a reported 11 players on the Tennesse Titans adhered to a plant-based eating plan. They made the playoffs for the first time in a decade, according to CNBC. While a vegan diet is still relatively rare in the league, strict eating plans are not. Tom Brady has seemingly led the movement. Brady, himself, is not a vegan, but he’s been the force behind stringent food plans.

Brady adheres to his own, customized diet plan that focuses heavily on plant-based foods. He has credited his healthy eating for his ability to continue playing at an elite level well past the average NFL player’s prime. Allegedly, about 80% of his diet is made up of plant-based foods. His regiment isn’t just food-based, though. Brady conditions differently than other players and has maintained lean mass over adding additional muscle for years.

Players who have chosen to go vegan haven’t reported any problems. In fact, several have suggested that the program gives them more energy. It has also helped several players drop weight and become more agile. Newton’s veganism is widely being blamed for his onfield woes, but it looks like that’s probably not the issue for the 30-year-old quarterback.

Do NFL players have dietary requirements?

NFL players aren’t held to any dietary requirements. Not usually, at least. While in season, they have chefs that cook for them while at the field, but they make their own choices about food. Unless, of course, there appears to be a problem. Eddie Lacy famously signed a contract with the Seattle Seahawks in 2017 that had a weight clause worked in, according to ESPN.

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Lacy, who had previously played for the Green Bay Packers, had ballooned up to nearly 270 pounds. The Seahawks were willing to give him a chance to widdle his weight back down to where he was during his first two years of gameplay. The contract clause paid Lacy for several weight loss milestones. There was nothing in the contract about how he got it done, though.

Even without diet requirements, most choose to stick to a protein-focused eating plan, including snacks. Many eat between 4,000 and 6,000 calories a day during the season to maintain their weight. While strict diet plans are not uncommon in the NFL, they are by no means a requirement.