What in Nick Saban's Diet Helps Him Win National Championships

What in Nick Saban's Diet Helps Him Win National Championships

How many times have you asked yourself the question: “What are we going to have for lunch?”

The most successful people have a habit of eating the same things, or the same few things, every day. This means:

  • They make it mindless, so it’s one less decision they have to make.
  • They have a system and fuel that their body is used to and they stick with it.

Successful people are successful not because of good luck, birth order, or family heritage, but because they have adopted the right habits. They do things differently than the rest.

Let’s talk about one of the most successful football coaches to ever walk the planet: Nick Saban. Good ol’ Nick has won 6 National Championships (1 at LSU and 5 at Alabama), so you can for sure equate him with the word “success.”

If you speak to anyone on the inside, you’ll know that he is a machine - long work days and long weeks. He is characterized by many in his field as one of the hardest people to work for, but he pays so well that they take the long hours and all that goes along with it.

But over the long term his success has been predicated off of hard work and a system, or “process,” that works for him. Many coaches and coordinators have come and gone but he is the one that has been the mainstay the last 11 years. Part of that “process” is the fact that his daily routine and diet do not vary much at all.

Some of this stuff may not be healthy, but it works for him and it is something that has kept him in shape and able to still coach with tons of energy at 66 years old. SO, here is Nick’s daily regime:

  • Early Morning: Runs on the treadmill or works on the elliptical at his house. On the way to the office he eats an oatmeal cream pie. Again, not the healthiest, but it is mindless and it is one less decision he has to think about every morning.
  • Lunch: It is a chicken salad that he gets from a local spot every day.
  • Off season, he and some of the staff play pickup basketball 2-3 days a week - during the season, maybe 1 day a week. So the most successful coach in college football sometimes exercises 2 times a day. INTERESTING... but that’s a another topic for another article.
  • Post practice: Oatmeal cream pie.
  • Dinner: Rotates between 3 different meals.


Why does a guy that makes $11.25 million dollars eat oatmeal cream pies and chicken salad?

Because it works.

Because it’s mindless

Because it keeps him at a healthy weight.

It might sound boring, but eating the same thing for breakfast every day might be a good place to start. When you’re busy, deciding what to eat when you first wake up in the morning is just one more thing to think about.

The most successful people follow daily rituals that keep them aligned, consistent, and frees their minds to think about more important things.

The majority of fit people say that they eat virtually the same meals every day; mostly the same breakfast, same lunch, same dinner, and when it comes to snacks and beverages… well, you guessed it, very predictable food. To clarify, they did not suggest that they eat exactly the same entree for every meal, but that they often choose from three, maybe four, things that they like for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It’s one of the reasons I started mealfit meals - to make that routine even easier for my customers to not only start, but also maintain.


So let’s look at some more examples of what some of the world’s most successful people eat:


Best-selling author and blogger, Seth Godin, revealed to Tim Ferriss that he has the same smoothie, consisting of frozen bananas, hemp powder, almond milk, prunes, and walnuts, every morning, according to Thrillist.

Chrissy Teigen – The Sports Illustrated model told Bon Appetit that she and fiancé John Legend stick to the same morning meal: two eggs over easy with turkey bacon and avocado—and she skips the coffee.

Singer Carly Rae Jepsen is a creature of habit. She told Bon Appetit, “I have the same thing for breakfast every day: vanilla yogurt with granola and fruit. And if I can get my hands on some boiled eggs, I go for those, too.”

CEO Brad Lande, Head of Birchbox Man, has a smoothie of coconut water, banana, blueberries, kale, bee pollen, almond butter, and ice.

Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google and a vegetarian, starts his day with toasts, an omelet for his daily proteins, and tea.

Former First Lady Michelle Obama has scrambled eggs, turkey sausage, and grapefruit.

Beyoncé eats scrambled egg whites, a vegetable smoothie, or whole-grain cereal with lowfat milk.

Arianna Huffington, Huffington Post founder and current CEO of Thrive Global, has fresh fruit, poached eggs and two hot cups of Bulletproof coffee.


Actor Mark Wahlberg (and co-owner of the burger restaurant chain Wahlburgers) typically eats a salad, turkey burger, and sweet potato for lunch.

Entrepreneur, author, and productivity guru Tim Ferriss recommends eating the same thing for lunch almost every day, which for him consists of organic beef, mixed vegetables, pinto beans, and guacamole.

Oprah has soup and a salad every day. One of her favorite pairings is tomato soup and a Tuscan kale and apple salad

Gwyneth Paltrow has a big salad with grilled chicken.

Usain Bolt eats pasta with corned beef.

Andy Murray sticks with salmon and rice for lunch.

Why does this work?

Here are some reasons why this may help lead to some success in many areas of fitness and life:

  1. Save your willpower for more important matters.

Unfortunately, willpower is a limited resource. How many times do you think you could say no to a chocolate chip cookie in a day? Willpower is like a muscle that gets tired the more you use it. To keep it strong, you have to find ways to limit its use. By having a few go-to meals that you eat on a consistent basis, you don’t have to think about your meals. This strategy helps you conserve your willpower for more important decisions — and it could help you turn down any junk food offers throughout the day.

  1. Never stress about food

Don’t worry about what you’re going to eat next and whether or not you are getting enough nutrients. Being overly stressed about your food choices can lead you down some very unhealthy paths. When we’re stressed we crave comfort food and could wind up snacking on a bag of chips while searching for a healthy option to cook. For a lot of people worrying about their diets can become very stressful when it doesn’t have to be. By simplifying your diet you take the worry out of the equation.

3. Save time and money
With fewer ingredients and a shorter grocery list, you will find yourself saving more money and spending a lot less time in the grocery store.


Will you be like Nick Saban if you eat oatmeal cream pies for breakfast?

Will you be as fast as Usain Bolt if you eat pasta with corned beef at lunch?

Ok, then so what is the take-a-way? What we can take from all of these highly successful people is that routine in many ways keeps us focused on what we need to be focused on. For some, it’s winning National Championships, for some, it’s writing books, and for others, it may be raising the best kids on your block. Whatever your job is, take one less decision off your plate so you can focus on killing the rest of your day.


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