Efe Obada Exclusive: I Need 7,000 Calories A Day To Be 125kg NFL Lineman…But My Cheat Meal Is KFC, McDonald’s AND Burger King!
Efe Obada stands out like a sore thumb at Nike's flagship London store in Oxford Circus.
The Carolina Panthers defensive end towers over everyone in attendance with his 6ft 6ins, 125kg frame, especially the youths who he's supporting as part of the Big Kid Foundation.
Obada is wearing a beaming smile as he takes photos and signs autographs, happy to be back in the country where he grew up and excited at the prospect of playing an NFL game at Spurs' new stadium.
It represents a stark contrast from his day job, where he uses his 275lb frame to run through beasts of similar stature and try and flatten quarterbacks.
The game is not for the faint-hearted, or for those who don't put the work in at the gym.
Obada pauses from his promotional activities, and parks his huge frame In a chair next to us to tell us what it takes to be an NFL defensive lineman.
SPORTbible: How often do you lift weights?
Efe Obada: In the off-season we work out quite a bit. During the season the lifting goes down and the running goes up, so it's just trying to find that balance to keep you at optimum.
Early off-season I probably do about two or three sessions a week but then it goes up as we get closer to training camp so I can get my body acclimated to the pressure and short turnarounds.
The gym is your building blocks, where you create stability, get strength, power and acceleration. You're asking your body to do certain things, to get stronger and train certain muscles in a certain way.
SB: How heavy are we talking?
EO: I just keep that a secret. Nobody is getting numbers, just know I'm strong. One-rep max, I can hang with the big boys. I'm up there with the heavy lifters - they're all above 300lbs.
SB: Who's the beast of the team?
EO: Luke Kuechly is a beast. The offensive linemen as well, they're huge. They're so strong. Kuechly's body type isn't that of mine or the offensive linemen but he can outlift us - that's why he's a beast.
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SB: Who needs more gym work?
EO: You trying to make me lose friends? (laughs)
SB: Which exercise do you hate?
EO: I used to skip a lot of leg days but now it's very important so I don't. Nobody likes leg days. You're in pain for days afterwards, you're sitting down and just hurting. But now I know it's important. Also, I don't enjoy running. I hate cardio. I'm a big guy, so everything kind of hurts down to my knees.
SB: Do you take gym selfies?
EO: No I don't. I do my work and go. I see guys that do that, though, and I laugh. The gym is for working out and getting done.
SB: How much do you eat?
EO: We did a study that says I need to consume 7,000 calories a day. I hate it, I feel like I'm eating all the time. For breakfast I get an omelette, some hash browns and a few avocados - that fuels me for the morning. For dinner, I eat whatever my wife cooks. She makes good African food and good Jamaican food. She makes me oxtail and rice and peas. It's great.
SB: What's your cheat meal?
EO: I do this thing where I go to different places and get different things that I like. In McDonald's I will get 20 nuggets, then I'll go to KFC and get their wings, then I'll go to Burger King and get the double whopper.
SB: How physically demanding is it being an NFL player?
EO: It's demanding, but we know how to manage pain and how to manage recovery. The way the schedule is as well, the coaches know when to fully load you and when to hold back.Initially when I was younger I enjoyed the brutality - it was a really good outlet for me. Sometimes now I still do.
SB: What do you do to recover from practice or working out?
EO: Stretches, massages, salt baths, the lot. I don't like ice baths but I do them every day after practice for 10 minutes. On a normal day, I get up at 6am and head to work. The first thing I do is go and get into a hot tub. It loosens my body up, I've got my headphones and it helps to get my mind right. I'm not a morning person but I'm trying to reprogram myself. I've been doing it for so long now.
SB: What do you listen to?
EO: I've been looking at motivational videos on YouTube so the first thing I do in the morning is pop one of them on in the background and go about my day. I listen to some UK music and some African music, it just depends on how I feel.
Efe Obada was speaking at the launch of The Nike London City Jersey, an American Football jersey inspired by the Carolina Panthers and Efe Obada. Available now at NikeTown London.