Well-Played

Clean eating bats clean-up for Cleveland Indians outfielder Brandon Guyer

Take one look at Brandon Guyer’s Instagram page, and you’re not quite sure about which of his hobbies he’s most passionate.

There is plenty of evidence of his night job as an outfielder for the American League Champion Cleveland Indians, to which he arrived after a trade-deadline deal last August. He posts workout videos, including kickboxing and balancing. There are photos of his best moments from the Tribe’s AL championship run, including his Sept. 20 walk-off double that, as they always do, resulted in a wild dogpile among teammates.

And there’s plenty of evidence of his day job as a dad to his two children: Riley, 2, and Camden, 1, and husband to Lindsay, a former TV anchor and reporter in Washington, DC.

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Keep scrolling and you stumble on Guyer’s other passion—food. Wild sockeye salmon cakes. Green lentil and quinoa pasta. Avocados—and a lot of them. Hearty salads, riced cauliflower, fuel bowls, and homemade oat bran chicken nuggets pop out among his feed.

In a game where failing 7 out of every 10 times at bat is considered All-Star caliber, players look for every edge they can. And for Guyer, 31, clean eating is a big part of the equation.

“It’s really focused on maximizing my potential,” said Guyer, who hit .333 in 38 games for the Indians last season and had an RBI double and scored a run in the Tribe’s rally during Game 7 of the World Series. “I found that with nutrition, I could feel the best and be in the best shape possible and make the most of my potential. I supplement that with physical training and skills development, but nutrition is a huge part of it.”

What Guyer doesn’t have to do is force himself to eat these foods—he genuinely enjoys how they taste. And, admittedly, his typical day’s menu sounds pretty darn appetizing. During spring training, he starts with four pasture-raised eggs from Sprouts, a Phoenix-area grocery store specializing in clean eating. One of the team’s chefs, Miguel Solis, lightly scrambles those eggs in coconut oil, which provides more healthy fatty acids than the usual vegetable oil.

He tops off his breakfast with a green juice smoothie and two pieces of sprouted grain toast—one topped with ghee, honey, and cinnamon, and the other with avocado.

After he and his teammates complete their morning workout, he has either a collagen or plant-based protein bar and whatever Solis or head chef Mark Blaszak have for the group—typically a chicken option with vegetables and rice.

For dinner, Guyer and his family typically grill organic freerange chicken, grass-fed steak, or wild fish—anything polecaught that’s spent time eating things that provide the right nutrients. He adds in bone broth-based quinoa that he cooks in bulk in bone broth, hemp seeds, Himalayan salt, and honey, all of which is accompanied by a salad or green juice.

Back on his in-season home turf in Cleveland, dinner is a family affair. He or Lindsay cooks dinner and the couple works together to encourage Riley and Camden to eat whatever’s in front of them. When they are not in their kitchen, they enjoy experiencing Cleveland’s dining scene—3 Palms Pizzeria in Westlake is a favorite.

Guyer concludes his day with protein. Before bed, he opts for whey, hemp, or green juice powder.

“I’m not forcing myself to do this,” Guyer said, “This is stuff I look forward to eating. I’ll never deprive myself. I’ll eat pizza or a cookie if I want one, but I really enjoy eating these foods. If you prepare them and cook them the right way, they can be really good.”

While his parents always had healthy snacks in the house when he was growing up, Guyer said he really began researching the effects of clean eating at the onset of his college career at the University of Virginia and as he later embarked on his pro career in the minors with the Chicago Cubs and Tampa Bay Rays organizations.

That research, and his work with multiple nutritionists, led him here. And while it’s getting easier for Guyer—and anyone, really, as this style of nutrition becomes more mainstream—his profession adds complexity to his diet.

A baseball player’s life is not conducive to healthy sleep or eating habits. Players generally arrive at work around noon or 1pm for a typical night game, but don’t leave until about 11pm. They typically have a meal provided by the team’s chef before heading home.

On the road, it’s more difficult. Although the newly reached collective bargaining agreement between the league and its players addressed some travel issues, at various times throughout the season players are arriving in road cities in the middle of the night, immediately go to sleep and sleep in before the next day’s game.

So, it takes time and effort to stick to the script. Before each road trip, Guyer packs a carry-on suitcase just with healthy snacks for the hotel and for the visiting clubhouse, where the chefs may not be able to meet his dietary habits.

A few things Guyer stresses: He doesn’t force his habits on anyone, including the other players (although he’s happy to share advice with those who inquire). His wife enjoys some of the items he eats but, for instance, she doesn’t eat fish. He doesn’t push his habits on his kids, either; at their young ages, Guyer just hopes they eat “whatever we put in front of them,” he says with a laugh.

He also admits this regimen isn’t for everyone. While generally most players and athletes eat healthy foods to maintain their shape, some might balk at the lengths to which Guyer goes to follow his plan.

“You have to put time into it, especially with our lifestyle,” Guyer said. “It takes time, but I’ve done it for so long that it’s second nature. For me, eating clean, healthy food makes me the best player I can be. I notice a difference, absolutely.”