It's easy to ask Manti Te'o about what motivates him on the field, but this isn't that type of article. Right now, we're talking about food.
Food and the nutrition science behind what is consumed is not only integral for any athlete's performance, but also for how their bodies will repair and recover when they aren't active. As for Te'o, it's something he takes very seriously.
"It's the most important part as far as taking advantage of the work that you put in," Te'o said. "If you don't fuel yourself right (and) put the right stuff in your body, all the work you just put in was for nothing. You want to continue to build and reward yourself for the hard work you put in by eating right. It's very important for me to get the right fuel in my body."
Entering his fourth season in the league, Te'o said he's had to adjust his diet from rookie year to now. Upon doing his own research and getting advice from sports nutrition experts, he follows a diet full of lean protein like chicken, fish and vegetables. The inside linebacker added he tries to stay away from dairy and watches his carb consumption.
With training camp in full swing, players are practicing in the dead heat of San Diego's summer. Te'o and many players have to alter their eating regimen during camp to properly accommodate what they need, and foods the team provides are specially presented with the athletes' bodies in mind.
"I try to get anywhere from five to six meals a day," he mentioned. "I usually have three main meals: breakfast, lunch and dinner. Between breakfast and lunch, I'll have a snack. Between lunch and dinner, I'll have a snack and before I get to bed it's important that I get a snack. (The one before bed) is important because with all the work that you put in during training camp, it's easy to lose what you put in through the summer. That snack before bed allows you to sustain your weight and your body to continue to build because when you sleep, your body does the most work because it's when it's repairing."
When it comes to a pregame meal, Te'o mentioned he doesn't like to feel "overly full". He'll start out game days with oatmeal and eggs, and add in some fruit once he gets to the locker room.
Coming up with a customized nutrition plan is exciting, but following it is the hardest part. The Hawaii native, who is a self-proclaimed food lover, said his biggest vices are any local Hawaiian fare like Spam, Korean chicken and white rice.
In addition, players, like all of us, can be picky eaters. Some, like Te'o, have had to grow accustomed to foods they didn't enjoy prior to going pro. But as he mentioned, he's willing to make the sacrifice if he knows it'll fuel his body right.
"(Now) I eat broccoli, asparagus and broccolini which are basically the only vegetables I eat besides salad. Coming from Hawaii, we eat Spam and white rice every meal. (Changing my diet) was difficult, but I started to learn and see the changes in my body and how fast I can recover. At the end of the day, my body is my investment so if eating broccolini and asparagus is what I have to do to give myself the best chance to stay healthy, that's what I'm going to do."