A person's daily calorie needs vary slightly based on gender and age, ranging from 2,000 to 2,600 calories a day. Brian Shaw, 40, is a healthy, active adult, but one for whom even 2,600 calories aren't going to cut it. In fact, that's usually not even enough calories for a single meal. For Shaw, that "active" part of his lifestyle includes competing in top-level strongman competitions, the biggest of which, the official World's Strongest Man competition, Shaw won four times. And he has placed in the top tier of that competition many more times than that.
To win a competition like that, which includes events like lifting the Atlas Stones—some of which weigh more than 350 pounds—overhead presses of weights as heavy as 835 pounds, and vehicle pulls of busses, fire trucks, and airplanes, Shaw has to spend a lot of time exercising and training with immense amounts of weight.
He also has to eat a lot of food every day that he is in training or competition. As in enough food to help him maintain a weight that often well exceeds 400 pounds as he preps for an event, that provides him thousands of calories to burn through each day, and enough protein to build muscles that can, quite literally, lift cars. Here's what the world's strongest man eats in a day. Plus, don't miss What a Celeb Trainer Eats in a Day.
He eats 4-times the amount of most people.
And that's less fun than you'd think it would be. One of the hardest parts about being the World's Strongest Man is the eating, says Shaw. He explained that as he begins training for an upcoming event, he'll look to consume "8,000 calories a day, give or take, as I'm starting to ramp up, and then at the top end, for those biggest, most challenging competitions, I get up in the 10,000 to 11,000 calorie per day range."
He packs in pounds of meat, cups of rice, and lots of fruit.
When Shaw is training for a strongman challenge the go-to choice is meat. "On a daily basis, in a given meal, I'm eating probably close to a pound of meat. And a lot of the measurements that I take are after cooking, too. It really is a tremendous amount of food, and you have to do that every couple of hours when you're in training," he said. I always looked at it like: 'What's the best bang for your buck?' If I was going to be eating something, what was I going to get out of it? What nutrients? In my opinion, for a strength athlete, red meat always offers the best reward."
The only time meat isn't the star of his meal is breakfast. Breakfast is usually eight eggs scrambled with two cups of rice and orange juice blended with spinach, he told Men's Health, the rest of the day is dedicated to meat. For some of his meals he also adds in Honeycrisp apples, blackberries, and blueberries. There's always a ton of rice and sometimes he has a spinach salad on the side. Where does he get all of this food? Costco, of course! Ride along on a shopping trip with Shaw to Costco to see his expensive grocery haul.
He rounds things out with shakes.
Shaw also will rely on shakes while training he finds it difficult to actually chew as much as he needs to, He would eat six whole meals as well as a shake and various supplements while in training: "For me, the eating was the hardest part of everything. I enjoyed walking into the gym each day, I enjoy the training. But that's only a short part of it. Eating was from when I woke up in the morning until I went to bed at night."
His favorite cheat meal is cheesecake.
Shaw does allow himself the occasional "cheat" treats even when training. Asked what his go-to cheat food was, he answered at once: "Cheesecake." Working with a nutritionist who would literally "program in cheat meals" during Shaw's grueling fitness and diet routine, Shaw knew that now and then he could have that favorite food slipped in, and thus every once in a while he could actually enjoy eating. Unlike us, though, Shaw has been known to eat four pieces of cheesecake at a time! He picks up the Mini Cheesecake Treats from Costco for those special moments.