Shannon Sharpe Credits His Strict Diet With Helping Him at the Gym: ‘I’m Crushing Guys in Their 20s and 30s’

Hall of Famer Shannon Sharpe retired from the NFL after the 2003 season. Now, he’s 52 — old enough to join the AARP — but Sharpe still has an intense fitness and diet regime. He could run circles around many guys half his age, even some current NFL players. One reason the Fox Sports personality can stay in such great shape: His day starts when most people are still asleep. Here are all of the details.

Shannon Sharpe’s Hall of Fame career in the NFL

Former NFL player Shannon Sharpe
Sports icon Shannon Sharpe on TV | Kelsey McNeal via Getty Images

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Sharpe went to college at Savannah State. Even though that’s not a major football school, he played well enough for the Broncos to pick him in the seventh round of the 1990 NFL draft. After that, he outperformed his draft position considerably.

In 14 seasons, the tight end caught 815 passes for 10,060 yards and 62 touchdowns. His reception and yardage totals are both the fourth-most in NFL history among tight ends. In 18 postseason games, he added another 62 receptions for 814 yards and four scores. His postseason success helped him win three Super Bowl rings, two with the Broncos and one with the Ravens. 

Even in retirement, Sharpe dedicates his days to fitness

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Sharpe talked with GQ about his health and fitness routines. He changed his workout routine a bit in retirement. But it is still rigorous and more than what many people 20 years younger than Sharpe do. This work ethic was instilled in him at a young age when he worked on Georgia tobacco fields when he was a kid. Being an athlete helped, too. Sharpe says “as an athlete, I had conditioned myself to stay on a strict schedule, whether that’s for work or even finding just a few minutes to relax. So I kept that.”

He says it’s about “quality of life, not quantity of life,” which is why he gives everything he does 100% effort. He’s in such good shape that he says he is “crushing guys in their 20s and 30s at the gym.” Sharpe also gets the motivation to work out from his co-host, Skip Bayless, who wouldn’t let Sharpe hear the end of it if he ever skips a day of workouts.

Shannon Sharpe’s typical day and diet

Sharpe detailed his diet and workout routine in the interview, saying he tries to exercise at least three or four days a week, with a couple of days with two workouts. He does free weights, then takes some time to rest — which includes eating and spending time with his dogs. Then after his break, he does CrossFit, including kettlebells, the row machine, and bikes. He says he likes to mix things up to keep from getting bored and to confuse his body, which helps him stay fit.

As for his diet, his breakfast varies depending on the day, but usually includes something along the lines of egg whites, oatmeal, and fresh fruit. For lunch, Sharpe usually has “some grilled chicken, bison meatballs, brown rice, and steamed vegetables.” And he ends his day with dinner, which typically includes “turkey, pork, a salad or steamed vegetables,” with broccoli being his go-to for steamed veggies.

He admits that his fitness routine isn’t as structured as it was during his playing career, and he tries to “enjoy [himself] a little more.” But the older he gets, he doesn’t have the advantage of youth or the ability to spend hours a day exercising, which is why he tries to monitor what he eats, which includes lean proteins, egg whites, and vegetables. He does have some indulgent foods, though, which include pancakes, French toast, and chicken tenders.