JOHNNY GAUDREAU HAS a problem. The 23-year-old Calgary Flames star has to make sure his body can withstand the beating of an 82-game schedule. His solution will make most people envious. "Keep eating, keep eating, that's my motto," says Gaudreau, who is set to join Team North America at the World Cup of Hockey in Toronto in September. "Eat as much as you can and just keep eating."
The 5'9", 157-pound winger is the lightest player in the NHL, and he struggles to maintain what little mass he has. "I could eat McDonald's for three weeks in a row and would still need to keep gaining weight," says Gaudreau, who scored a team-high 30 goals last season.
That doesn't mean he eats whatever he wants; there is a method to his munching. Every meal, even in the off-season, is filled with protein. On a typical day he plows through a giant breakfast before practice, downs some hearty Italian food after and finishes up the night with a big slab of meat. He doesn't even keep his favorite cereal, Fruity Pebbles, in the house, because he'll end up downing three bowls instead of something with more weight-producing punch.
Indulgences? Gaudreau still goes for ice cream every once in a while—chocolate, out of the carton, no toppings—but he knows it's all about the protein if he wants to keep scoring.
Gaudreau loads up on eggs before his morning skate. He'll either have a scoopful of scrambled eggs with bacon and cheddar cheese, or a helping of steak and eggs. He'll combine that with cranberry or orange juice and perhaps a coffee on his way to the rink.
As soon as practice ends he heads to the nearest restaurant with an empty stomach. Most days Gaudreau fills that void with two pieces of chicken Parmesan and a side of penne.
The afternoon meal will hold him over until 5 p.m., when he has fruit and a PB&J sandwich. "You don't want to be too full by the time the game comes," says Gaudreau. "Just full enough to play."
After 20 minutes of ice time, Gaudreau needs to replenish. The strategy? "Getting as much food in my body as I can," he says. It's often a steak—pepper and squeezed lemon, no sauce. Sometimes he'll vary it by having fish or chicken in barbecue sauce. Even if he's full, Gaudreau presses on. "I burn a lot of calories," he says. "I need to make sure I put that back on. I remind myself I need to maintain my weight and finish the whole meal."