Kevin VanDam's slender frame and ultra-fast fishing style hardly hint to his fondness for keeping his tank full of food.
But VanDam takes eating while competing seriously. Kevin scoffs at the common ego-laden explanations often heard muttered by other tournament anglers that they are too busy fishing to eat and drink while competing. "You've got to have fuel for your brain. This sport is both mentally and physically demanding, you've got to provide fuel for both," says the 2-time Bassmaster Classic Champion.
Tournament mornings are fast-paced and filled with preparation, but KVD makes sure he doesn't go into battle without something in his belly. "I definitely eat breakfast. It could be some ham or bacon and toast if I can get it at the hotel but, if not, I'll grab a big muffin and a chocolate milk at a convenience store."
Once the fishing begins, so does the eating and hydration process. "I don't drink coffee, so Diet Coke provides my caffeine boost. I start just about every fishing day with a Diet Coke, and then I drink Gatorade most of the day. If the weather is really hot, then I drink a lot of water, too. Then, an hour or two into the tournament day, I'll grab a granola bar." That's pretty normal for many anglers, but here's where the story takes a twist.
The Kalamazoo Kid assembles sandwiches with the same intensity he uses to prep his tackle. "I always build myself a big sandwich. I'm not talking about some wimpy one-slice-of-bologna sandwich. I'm talking about a thick sandwich, with at least two slices of cheese, quality whole grain bread and no cheap meat. I use roast beef, black forest ham or maybe even some barbecue chicken from the night before, if we've got it. I usually eat the sandwich mid-morning," says an intensely serious VanDam.
It doesn't end with the mid-morning mega sandwich. VanDam says he eats just about every hour on the hour until weigh-in. A mix of protein bars and granola bars gets VanDam through to the end of the day. No one fishes harder or more intensely than Kevin VanDam.
In turn, few anglers burn more calories. Not taking time to eat and drink while competing in a bass tournament is neither macho nor smart. To VanDam, fueling the body and brain while competing is simply essential to his dominance.