The Real-Life Diet of 49ers Tight End George Kittle, Who Has a Complicated Relationship with Meat

I’m big on the placebo effect. If you believe that it’s going to work, its likelihood of working is much higher.

You had an injury-plagued 2020 season. What helped you stay motivated while dealing with that?

I hurt my knee the first game of the season, a helmet to the kneecap: hyperextended it, strained a bunch of stuff. I was, like, OK, it’s two weeks, I’ll be back. That’s easy. Breaking my foot, definitely not what I saw coming. But I gave myself three days to do whatever I wanted to do — lock myself in my room and play video games for 12 hours. And after three days, I was, like, all right. They told me it was a six- to eight-week recovery — I got back in five. I was pretty proud of that.

What do you attribute that to?

Stem cells. I’m not going to say that’s the number one thing, but I’m big into stem cells.

Have you used stem cells for other injury mitigation?

Yeah. I go to a place down in Panama, the Stem Cell Institute. I’ve been down there for three years now. Teammates got me on it, and I’ve gone down there with a bunch of players. I’m not going to say it can fix anything, but if I’m getting stem cells, it’s helping me somehow. There’s no way it’s not doing anything.

So you do it as a pre-hab, rather than rehab.

I’m big into pre-hab. If you follow me around for a day, I work out from 8 to 9:30, run from 10 to 11:30, and I do pre-hab for like two hours, whether that’s conditioning, blood-flow restriction, ice, sauna. I look for as many ways as I can legally make my body feel as good as it possibly can.

How are you figuring all this stuff out?

Our [former] owner [and current co-chairman John York] is forward-thinking on a lot of stuff. The resources we have in the stadium and the people we can talk to, they help us find things that work for us. I take a shotgun approach. Red light, ice tub, sauna, or should I do sauna, red light, hot tub? I probably try more than most people.

We’ve also talked so some NFL guys who eat McDonald’s before games.

No, I can’t do that. It would give me anxiety. My dad taught me early on, don’t worry about things you can’t control. So I’m very hands-on with the things I can control. Putting stuff in my body, that’s on me. I’ve learned that my body’s my business, so why not find the best way for my body to run?

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