Early in his professional baseball career, Los Angeles Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner says he thought of the gym like a bit of a meathead. “I thought working out was going in and throwing around as much weight as I could, getting as big as I could,” he told GQ. But the World Series champion and two-time all-star is now in his 14th season, and he’s matured a bit. Now he’s all about a “less-is-more” approach, with plenty work on mobility and recovery. Along with that shift in mindset came some adjustments to his diet, like going dairy-free, that he credits with extending his playing career. It seems to be working: These days he’s the heart and soul of a division-leading Dodgers team that seems like a lock to contend for another title this fall.
For more, Turner caught up with GQ about exactly how he’s tweaked his nutrition, the secret to clean eating while on the road, how he manages to still enjoy a little fast food, and his game-day routine from start to finish.
GQ: What was the deciding factor that led you to eliminate dairy?
Justin Turner: There wasn’t just one. I broke my wrist in spring training four years ago, a week before the season was going to start. I played with Chase Utley, who had been diary-free, and he was always talking about how I was putting inflammation in my body. Obviously, I was trying to come back as fast as I could, so I did no dairy while I was recovering and didn’t find it to be that difficult. I wasn’t really paying attention to how it made me sleep or feel because I was so homed in on trying to rehab my wrist. When I came back, I went back to living my normal life but that next year my wife asked what I was going to do for my New Year’s resolution. I decided I was going to give up dairy, and it’s really changed my life over the last four years, and it’s changed my body. I think I’ve been moving better, sleeping better, I recover faster, and it’s really been something that I can directly attribute to extending my career.
And now you’ve gone so far as to invest in the plant-based milk company Ripple. How did that get on your radar?
Our team over at VaynerSports has been on the lookout for products that are in our wheelhouse—that’s how Ripple came up. They sent us their pea-based protein shakes, non-dairy dairy products, and their version of chocolate milk, which is phenomenal. I feel like I can drink the whole bottle in one sitting. I have to pace myself or otherwise it’s gone.
Before last season’s spring training, you and your wife did the Whole30 diet, which led to some drastic weight loss. What led to that decision?
I wasn’t familiar with it, but my wife had heard about it, and usually when she wants to try something I do it with her. She was going to do it while I was going into spring training. I was on board with that, because we weren’t doing dairy and we usually don’t drink during spring training because of the early mornings, so it didn’t seem too hard cutting out the other categories. The Whole30 is an elimination process, and I was really doing it to reset—clean everything out and go into the season feeling fresh. I didn’t know that I was going to shed 16 pounds in 30 days. I had been trying for about seven years to get under 200 pounds. I would get down to 201 and I would just plateau. I just found that the pounds just started falling off. I did it again going into this season, and I got down to 192 this year, which is the lightest I’ve been in at least 15 years.