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I never thought of Marlon Byrd as a “fat” guy.

Yes, he was stout. But he was also quick and agile. On the shorter side. Bulky. But I thought of it as “powerful.”

At a generously-listed six feet and 255 pounds, though, maybe he was a touch heavy. But no more:

Byrd, 34, has added a martial arts workout called Muay Thai (pronounced “moy tie”) to his offseason program. The intense sessions, which he does three to four times a week, plus a dramatic change in his diet has helped the Cubs center fielder go from 255 pounds, which he weighed at the end of last season, to 215 now. That’s the same weight he was his senior year in high school.

“Now, he’s a lean, mean, fighting machine,” said Robert Cole, Byrd’s instructor at L.A. Boxing in Chicago and a retired national champion from England.

The first step in the transformation regarded Byrd’s diet, and he saw New York nutritionist Robert Pastore in New York on the recommendation of Raul Ibanez and Jayson Werth. Tests revealed Byrd was allergic to milk and wheat, and very close to having celiac disease. His wife, Andrea, had the same allergies. Pastore advised the Byrds to change their diet and both saw instant results.

“The fat started melting away,” Byrd said Wednesday. “No more bloating, no more food sensitivities. My body just kicked into high gear and I was able to keep it revved up.”

Byrd lost 40(!) pounds in just three months, and he did it all without a Kardashian-endorsed diet pill. That’s almost 20% of his body weight – a mind-boggling sum.

I say good for him for health reasons, and good for him for (hopefully) performance reasons. Given Byrd’s skill set – he’s never been a power guy – dropping the weight would seem to be of great benefit. Byrd is entering the final year of his three-year deal with the Cubs, and will likely be looking to land one more good contract before he hangs ‘em up.

(An aside: people like to tell you about the “myth” of overperforming in a contract year. It is not a myth. Stories like this is why it is not a myth.)

 

  • Stan

    Forty pounds?! I’m dying to see what he looks like now. I’m picturing a Dexter Fowler like figure

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      There’s a video at that link, and you can kinda see how he’s going to look. Definitely a very visible difference.

      • RoughRiider

        Is it me or does is left eye look a little different ? Maybe damage from the hit he took last year.

  • http://www.casualcubsfan.com hansman1982

    Give me 25 guys in the final year of their contract and I will win you a pennant every time.
    – Sparky Anderson

    • MightyBear

      I thought it was Whitey Herzog? Oh well. They both probably said it cause its true.

      • http://www.casualcubsfan.com hansman1982

        God I hope my source on the quote was right, I put it on my blog…hate to be shamed by that…well, I guess I do a good enough job shaming myself elsewhere.

  • Stinky Pete

    I dropped about 35 in four months just by eating better (I love Paleo!). The woman I share an office with dropped weight with “Spark”. In the name of keeping a civil workplace I have not openly made fun of her. I’ll stop now before I go on a rant about “Energy” products.

  • PKJ

    I’ve been following a diet like Byrd’s for about a year and a half for similar reasons. It’s completely removed my seasonal bronchitis and intestinal issues and I’ve dropped 35 pounds. Because humans never fully evolved to eat grains, I suspect that many people would see similar results if they followed his lead.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      …but they taste so good…

  • Bails17

    He looks like he is in better shape…but 40 lbs?  Looks less to me.

  • Leo Deleon

    He looks in great shape. Heard Barney added some pounds of muscle. Should be an interesting year.

  • Edwin

    This is a change, normally most of the “I just saw this player report to spring training in the best shape of their life” line is just a line to get people optimistic about the coming year. Good for Byrd.

  • Edwin

    How much does weight loss affect performance? I would imagine it might help durability, but I can’t think of too many players who lost a lot of weight and went on to drastically change their output. Weren’t Soto and Zambrano supposed to be in better shape/lost weight these past couple seasons? Not that losing weight isn’t a good thing, I’m just not too sold on Byrd being that much more productive this coming season. Which is fine, he’s still very productive.

    • JR 1908

      It’s hard to get an exact feel for how it will help him. But everything I have seen about when an athlete loses a lot of weight and kept their strength it adds to their flexibility and fast twitch muscles. Which can help with their swing. Obviously, it helps their overall endurance too, with 162 game season is always a plus…

      • hogie

        I am sure for a 33 yr old center fielder with very little power it will help him more than most I would think. I would imagine his range improves by a few steps and the martial arts training should help with the fast twitch muscles like you mentioned.

    • OlderStyle

      I would guess it may not affect his offensive production much, maybe help later in the season with not wearing down as much.
      He may be quicker and have a bit more range in the outfield and a step or two more on the basepaths. At an elite level, a few percent improvement can make a big difference. He’s on a contract year so I’m hoping for good things from him this year if he isn’t traded.

  • Kevin

    I have to say that I’m skeptical of the diet story—just because everybody knows that Byrd loads up on all the *legal* performance-enhancers he can get. Regardless though, I hope it helps his play. That home run trot can’t possibly get any faster… can it???

    • John Breslin

      I agree–I don’t like the implications of the previous higher weight, huge muscles, etc….

  • Stan

    Is it just or does Byrd remind you of Mike Tyson on that thumbnail (on the video)

    • ctmcwilli

      Nope…not at all. I mean they are both black and have ink but otherwise nope

  • Katie

    I thought Byrd and Soto looked different at the Cubs Convention when I watched it on TV.

  • jim

    Who bats cleanup? Cubs have too many righty relievers. How old is soriano really ;-)

  • die hard

    Good for Byrd……now hes more tradable

  • McGoate’s Toad

    Isn’t it about time that organizations get more involved in the “off-season” regimens of their players? How is it that Soto can come in to camp fat and bloated one year, then look like the poster child for P90X the next? Marlon Byrd NOW loses 40 pounds (Because he is in the final year of his contract). WTF???

  • Bazfan1234

    Great news, hopefully it will help him not swing at the first pitch.

  • http://midwaymadness.com/ Mac

    Wow. Great piece. Hopefully this helps his performance. Maybe everyone should be seeing this nutritionist?

  • Bric

    Devil’s advocate: am I the only one that remembers the steroid aqusations of last spring? Just sayin’.

    • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

      Ha, how foolish of you a Kardashian and a coked up whore is the same person

      As for Byrd the thought did cross my mind he was still using Balco linked trainers last year and stood by them through the allegations. Does anyone know if he has changed trainers this off season.

      • Bric

        You’re quick, goat! I was just playing devil’s avacado about Byrd but due to Brett’s request of a couple of days ago to keep the comments clean I removed the Kardashian coked up prostitute reference.But I agree, they are one and the same.

  • Levo

    I wonder if he lost his contact with Victor Conte. He’s the only player in MLB to still use that guy after BALCO got busted.

  • Eric

    Mike Fontenot is apparently now hiding under Marmol’s shirt. Did you see him at the Cubs convention? Doesn’t even look like the same guy. Dude’s chubby. I remember that look Marmol got in his face as he stared down his opposition before delivering a pitch, it’s a picture I have in my head of the “fearless flamethrower”. It’s a vivid picture I have in my face. And he doesn’t even resemble it anymore.

    • Rick Vaughn

      Bummer. Hope the Cubs can get anything in a trade for him ASAP.

  • gritsngravy

    Byrd is another class act that I really like to watch play. I think that he will have some value in a trade to possibly detroit. He is another one of those players who will help another team more than the cubs. Brett jackson needs a shot in center just so we can see what we have. This is a good year to test some of our prospects. I think that we have a better chance with young guys fighting for a job rather than overpayed veterans. What do you guys think of darwin barney at second. I like the kid. Although alot of my cubs fan friends think that he is another 1 year wonder.

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