Wednesday, June 12

Bryce Harper’s Grueling Diet for ESPN’s Body Issue Left Him ‘Completely Depleted’

Week 1: Three workouts per day; six meals per day (start tapering down meals)

Week 2: Begin putting salt in drinking water; continue tapering down meals

Week 3: Begin juice-only diet (7 raw juices total)

Day of Photo Shoot: No drinking or eating until right before the shoot — eat only raw white potatoes

This is the diet undertaken by Bryce Harper, a 22-year-old professional baseball player for the Washington Nationals. Once considered the most overrated new player, Harper is now considered the MVP favorite in the MLB, and he was one of many athletes highlighted in this year’s edition of ESPN’s Body Issue magazine.

The Body Issue magazine, Huffington Post states, “highlights and celebrates athletes’ physiques in all their wondrous shapes and sizes” — female athletes, like U.S. hammer thrower Amanda Bingson and UFC fighter Ronda Rousey, seem particularly celebrated for their skills in this annual publication.

But when the Washington Post interviewed Harper and he explained his diet and exercise regimen prior to the photoshoot, it became clear that women aren’t the only ones subjected to unrealistic beauty standards.

Rather than highlighting his natural body as a professional athlete, Harper prepared for weeks before the shoot. He explained to the Post that putting salt in his drinking water would allow him to stay hydrated without gaining weight, while the pre-shoot raw potatoes, packed with glucose and glycerine, would go straight to his muscles in time for the camera to capture the sudden nutrients.

“It makes you pop,” Harper explained. “It makes you stand out.”

By the time he was posing for the camera, sans clothes, his body was “completely depleted” — i.e., not the real body of a professional athlete.

Harper told the Post that he wanted to prove to the world that baseball players are just as physically fit as athletes in other sports; one false stereotype still perpetuated is the notion that baseball players are fat and unhealthy.

The important takeaway from Harper’s interview is this: while body image standards for women have been consistently unrealistic, men are becoming subject to their own unrealistic more and more. It’s one thing to want to lose weight for health reasons — in fact, according to a recent Gallup survey, about 56% of Americans say they want to lose some weight — but it’s another thing when losing weight (or bulking up) is the focus purely for aesthetic reasons.

A photo may very well be worth a thousand words — based on Bryce Harper’s latest photo, many are wondering what other male athletes could say about health vs. physical appearance, if given the same opportunity as Harper.


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