Los Angeles Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner is not known for his durability. The honorary captain of the reigning World Champions, with his long hair, and signature red beard, has never played more than 151 games in a single season over his 13-year MLB career.
The career-high 151 games played was five years ago in 2016. Since then, Turner has missed chunks of games with various injuries and ailments in each and every season. Including missing 59 games in 2018.
After signing a two-year, $34 million dollar contract to remain with the Dodgers in February, Turner decided he wanted to arrive at spring training in Camelback Ranch leaner, meaner, and lighter than he ever has before, in order to increase his mobility and durability on the diamond.
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In order to accomplish his goal, the 36-year-old Long Beach native turned to his wife Kourtney. Justin and Kourtney married in 2018, and the couple has done everything together since. They started a charity—the Justin Turner Foundation—together, they started a podcast together, and even exercise and workout together.
So when, Kourtney suggested they try the Whole30 diet, Justin was all in.
"In January of this year she started talking to me about the Whole 30 diet, we're usually in it together, so I was on board," said Turner. "The whole 30 diet is an elimination diet. You're cutting out alcohol, dairy, added sugars, carbs, and the point is to eat clean for 30 days and then reintroduce these things to see if you have any food sensitivities or restrictions."
For those not savvy to the latest diet trends, the Whole30 diet was co-founded in 2009 by Melissa Hartwig Urban. Urban said she experimented by trying a 30-day elimination diet that "transformed her health, habits, and emotional relationship with food."
The whole30.com website writes that the diet "eliminates cravings, improves energy and sleep, as well as allergies, anxiety, chronic pain, digestive issues, and skin conditions." All while losing weight "healthfully and sustainably."
In theory, the diet makes sense. If you eliminate all foods that might be causing allergies, inflammation, or bloating, and then slowly reintroduce foods by categorical food group one by one, a person would be able to better understand how their body responds to certain food groups and therefore be able to eliminate them moving forward.
Turner himself said he noticed a difference immediately, losing more weight than he ever had on any other diet before, and discovering that dairy might not be the best choice for him.
"I had insane results," said Turner of the first time he tried the diet. "I lost 16 pounds in a month. That was kind of mind blowing for me."
Turner has always been listed as over 200 pounds. Entering spring training in February, he weighed 192 pounds. The lightest he'd ever been in his career, earning him the nickname "skinny" during camp.
Turner's weight loss not only made him more mobile, but it improved his lateral movement at third base as well. Additionally, Turner, a historically slow starter, hit a career-high six homers in the first month of the season.
That's when Turner decided he wanted to share his weight loss story, and partner with a meal prep company that offered Whole30 approved choices.
Turner chose Fresh N' Lean, the number one ranked organic prepared meal delivery service in the United States. Turner partnered with the company, and became their Head of Sports Wellness. Together, they created an exclusive Whole30 meal program which includes over 81 different meals.
"Justin is an incredible athlete who values optimal performance," said Fresh N' Lean Co-CEO Thomas Asseo. "We are honored that he and Whole30 chose to partner with Fresh N' Lean on this new meal plan as we continue to expand our offerings to meet customer needs."
In addition to Whole30, Fresh N' Lean offers other diet meal plans as well. Whether you just want traditional meals for your family at home, entirely plant-based, vegan, vegetarian, protein+, low-carb, Paleo, or Clean Keto, Fresh N' Lean has the meal plan for you.
As part of this story, I was given the opportunity to interview Turner, and try a week's worth of Fresh N'Lean meals myself.
The meals arrived in a box on Friday with dozens of ice packs to keep them cool and fresh. After taking them out of the box, I organized each meal by breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I was immediately amazed at the variety. No meal was the same and each category was different. For example, for breakfast I could choose between a breakfast scramble, oatmeal, eggs and potatoes, a frittata, and chia. The lunches and dinners had even more of a variety.
With my busy schedule, I had difficulty eating all the meals for the week before they expired. Often times I'm at live sporting events for most of the day where I have to either eat at the venue itself, or before or after the game. By the end of the week, I was recruiting friends to try the meals with me in order to finish them on time.
For a professional athlete like Turner, who spends half of the year on the road during the MLB season, I wanted to know what his daily meals looked like, and how he was able to eat the pre-made Fresh N' Lean meals while traveling across the country for away games.
"I have them delivered to our hotel rooms on the road," joked Justin when I asked him how he did it. "Fresh N' Lean has made eating on the road so much easier. It's crazy how simple it is. I throw it in the microwave for three minutes and then you're off to crushing it."
Turner said when he's at home with his wife, they start the day by cooking breakfast together. It starts with a couple eggs, a couple pieces of turkey bacon or turkey sausage, and then some oatmeal. Sometimes Turner eats a Fresh N' Lean meal as a snack before heading to Dodger Stadium.
Once at Chavez Ravine, Turner has a dedicated kitchen staff that prepares meals for him and his teammates during the season.
"At the field we have our guys Tyrone and Kristen that do a great job of running our kitchen," said Turner. "They cater to my needs. They actually have meals set aside for me that are clean."
After the game, Turner is typically craving a snack, and chooses his favorite Fresh N' Lean meal, "The Mexican Bowl."
"When I come home, usually the first thing I do is throw a Fresh N' Lean Mexican bowl in the microwave. That's my forever meal. I could eat it every day."
If Turner plays in the Dodgers final three games of the season, he will match his career-high of 151 games played. His diet and weight loss have not only added to his longevity on the diamond, but improved his performance at the tail end of his career.
Turner has scored a career-high 86 runs this season, is a handful of hits away from his career-high (153), and RBI (90). Turner also tied his career-high in home runs this season with 27.
Turner even accomplished a life long dream by appearing in relief as a pitcher in the 9th inning on Aug. 29th against the Colorado Rockies. He retired the side and now has a perfect 0.00 ERA as a pitcher in his MLB career.
Turner credits his diet for his performance on the field during the 2021 season, and is hoping it will carry over to the postseason, where this time he expects to be on the field and in the middle of the dog pile when the Dodgers repeat as World Series champions.