From soup to 'nuts': Who's healthiest in KC?

Merrifield's pizza craving gives edge to Gordon

From soup to 'nuts': Who's healthiest in KC?

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Call it the Royal Battle of the Health Food Nuts.

In one corner is the legendary Alex Gordon, he of the next-to-zero percent body fat who many years ago cheated on his diet with a cheeseburger. The shame.

And in the other corner, the young, upstart Whit Merrifield, who caught everyone's attention last year when he revealed he ate seven perfectly healthy meals a day combined with multiple workouts a day.

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"I saw that," Gordon said of Merrifield's daily regimen. "Interesting."

Merrifield added about 15 pounds of muscle before the 2016 season with a diet that consisted of nine eggs and oatmeal for breakfast, then chicken, rice and vegetables three times a day, then red meat for dinner, and all of that supplemented by two protein shakes at different times of the day. 

Gordon admits he is impressed.

"But I don't have seven meals," Gordon said. "Maybe if you count snacks as a meal I do. I do breakfast, lunch and dinner.

"I eat a lot of food, and I don't want to say all the things I eat. But it's all healthy. Pretty much high protein and low fat. But I eat a lot of carbs. Lot of pasta and rice. Protein shakes in there, too."

Merrifield concedes that Gordon likely is the healthier eater.

"I enjoy my weekends," Merrifield said. "I'll break down and have a pizza and a beer on weekends."

Gordon admits he'll break down, too. Sort of.

"I'll have a beer," Gordon said. "I might have chicken wings every once in a while. That might be once every couple of months. That is my cheat food.

"It would be pizza. But I won't let myself do it. But I crave it all the time."

Informed of this, Merrifield smiled, "See? I knew it. I have more pizza than him."

Not that Gordon sits around and nibbles on alfalfa sprouts and tree bark all day.

"I've gotten smarter over the years," Gordon said. "I'm not like die-hard chicken, rice and vegetables every meal. I mix it up with some red meat, some pasta. I enjoy it a little more than I used to. I have a lot of whole grain, rice, pasta, whole grain breads. It's just got to be healthy."

The hardest part for Merrifield and Gordon is preparing healthy food. It takes time and energy.

"But I like cooking," Gordon said. "And my wife does a good job of cooking, too. We make it work."

Said Merrifield, "I'll still concede it to Gordo. He's the healthiest."

Jeffrey Flanagan has covered the Royals since 1991, and for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter @FlannyMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.