Nutrition takes starting role in offensive line’s training
UCLA football’s offensive line readies before the snap. Members of the offensive line and the rest of the team regularly participate in specialized nutrition plans outlined by the coaching staff. (Daily Bruin file photo)
Aug. 23, 2023 5:12 p.m.
This post was updated Aug. 27 at 9:14 p.m.
Editor’s note: This article mentions football players’ dietary habits.
Bruno Fina has a motto for his food regimen.
“I’m on a see food diet,” the redshirt junior offensive lineman said. “I see food, eat it.”
The 6-foot-5 tackle is just one of many student-athletes UCLA football’s strength and conditioning staff has placed on diet programs since becoming Bruins. Fina, who is entering his fourth year in Westwood, weighed 235 pounds as a freshman and is now listed at 300 pounds – 10 more than last season, and the heaviest he’s ever been.
But it wasn’t so cut and dry to gain mass, especially when it came to food intake, Fina said.
“I think I’ve gotten a lot better at it,” Fina said. “As I’ve gotten bigger, I just get more hungry. But in the beginning, it was forcing meals down. It was definitely very difficult.”
While athletes like Fina arrived at UCLA with a need to gain, other Bruins are at the opposite end of the spectrum, looking to cut weight and become more mobile on the field.
Senior offensive lineman Josh Carlin is another potential member of this year’s front five who is taking advantage of the nutrition system at UCLA.
Carlin has done just the opposite of Fina, focusing on cutting fat and gaining muscle. The 6-foot-5 guard has gone from 330 pounds down to 305, he said.
Carlin added that he’s put on around 7% of muscle by eating lean protein, with mainly chicken and rice factoring into his diet. He credited his physical changes to Director of Nutrition Ross Shumway and Director of Football Performance Keith Belton.
“The biggest thing, I would say, it was coach KB and Ross,” Carlin said. “They got me with a great meal plan and with everything in the weight room. I think it’s been really awesome. … I think that credited to spring ball and leading up to fall camp, and I feel a lot better moving around.”
In addition to the offensive linemen’s nutritional experiences, Fina joked about the drastic difference in conditioning game plans across the roster.
“They’d see me over in the fridge grabbing a bunch of snacks,” Fina said. “I’d look up at them on the elliptical running for like 40 minutes.”
While the offensive line does not have a surefire choice for the first-string quarterback or running back to protect, the position group is preparing for the playbook as normal.
Carlin said he’s noticed significant changes when going out to block on movement-heavy plays.
“I definitely feel more conditioned, that way, but I also just feel a lot more explosive,” Carlin said when asked if he’s felt less winded on the field. “Getting off the ball, I feel quicker running on screen plays. I feel great just going out to the backer (linebacker) and I feel like that’s definitely credit to that.”
Neither Fina nor Carlin know if they’ll be starting offensive linemen, shuffling in throughout the game or still fighting for a spot in the rotation.
But offensive line coach Tim Drevno had a message for the front-line candidates before game week preparation begins.
“Drev (Drevno) says it every day,” Fina said. “I don’t know who the starters are. I don’t know who’s going to play. So it’s just who comes out with the best attitude, who comes out smelling like a rose – with the best technique – and who can put their head down every single day and be consistent.”