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Penn State Football: How Bryce Effner Gained 34 Pounds Eating Subway and Chick-fil-A

by on May 26, 2019 6:15 PM

Offensive lineman Bryce Effner arrived on the Penn State campus on June 24, 2018. He weighed 265 pounds.

Since then, the 6-foot-5 Illinois native has gained one pound every 10 days. That’s three pounds a month. Three hundred pounds is now just a late-night snack away.

On purpose. It’s been Eff’ing crazy.

How did he do it?

“Chick-fil-A,” he said, hardly waiting a half-beat to digest the question.

Just Chick-fil-A, I asked.

“Mostly Chick-fil-A and some late-night Subway orders,” he said in all seriousness, with only a hint of a smile. “Mostly those two places. You just have to eat and eat, work out and drink a lot of water.”

“Ewww,” went a chorus of his teammate, listening in on the conversation. Effner’s diet, to them, was tough to stomach. 

Effner doesn't care. It’s all for a purpose. 

“I came in at 265 and I weighed in at 299 last time we checked,” Effner said last week, his freshman year of college now under his — er, ever-widening — belt. Remarkably, his body fat has stayed pretty much the same, going from 19% to 21%.

“I gained mostly muscle,” he pointed out. “Mostly muscle. Make sure you get that down.”


Effner addressed this weighty issue last Wednesday, during Penn State’s first-ever no-longer-a-freshman media day on the PSU practice fields. He was surrounded by a gaggle of super-sized teammates who giggled at his every answer. 

Food is funny, especially when you’re a lineman. And it’s a big deal. Effner was surrounded by six other young Nittany Lions, who with Effner weighed in at a collective ton or so. They were his peers of a certain scale, more or less. Usually more.

Effner came to PSU 11 months ago a bit on the small side. (Really, at least weight-wise.) His motivation for adding lbs. was pretty simple: 

“Do you know how hard it block 300 pound-dudes across the line of scrimmage from you when you’re only 265?” Effner asked. “It’s hard! It’s really hard, that’s hard it is. I put on weigh not because I wanted to, but out of necessity.”

Effner redshirted in 2018, spending his time working on the scout team, eating and ordering take-out. Food is important to Effner. On Penn State’s website he lists “hunting, off-roading and grilling” as his chief hobbies. He’s an altruistic sort as well, having volunteered at Feed My Starving Children and a homeless shelter back home in Aurora, Illinois.

So, he respects food. And he has packing on the pounds down to a science.


When it comes to Chick-fil-A, Effner has two options, one on campus on the ground floor of the HUB student union building, not far from his dorm. There’s another a few miles away, on North Atherton Street. He has his order at Chick-fil-A down to a science.

“Two sandwiches and a large fry,” he said without hesitation. “I hate the turtle back fries, though. I don’t put any sauce on my sandwiches. I’m a purist. I take it seriously. I don’t do soda. I’m not a big lemonade guy. I do water. I get one of the tall ones and chug that. “ 

If Effner is doing CFA on campus, he washes it all down by walking a few steps past the HUB food court to grab his favorite smoothie, a mixture of pomegranate juice blend, mangos, strawberries and peaches that is billed as “the antioxidant Shangri-La.”

“After I’m done with Chick-fil-A, I’ll often go to Jamba Juice and get a Pomegrante Paradise,” Effner said. “You gotta get the sugar. The sugar and carbs are what is good for gaining weight.”

Effner has a go-to order at Subway as well:

“Turkey Italiano. On Italian bread. No mayo. I hate mayo. I go just meat and cheese, with salt and vinegar on it. Sometimes I’ll put chips on the sandwich. It depends. If I’m feeling wild, I’ll get jalapeno. A cookie? Maybe, it depends on my mood. If I had a hard day, I’ll get a cookie.”


Effner’s great food race isn’t over.

“My goal weight is 305, 315,” he said.

So, how many more Subway Turkey Italianos ’til you get there, I asked.

He bit on the question: “At least 30,” he replied.

Mike Poorman has covered Penn State football since 1979, and for since the 2009 season. His column appears on Mondays and Fridays. Follow him on Twitter at His views and opinions do not necessarily reflect those of Penn State University.
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