How Do I Eat Like an Athlete?
“How do I eat like an athlete?” is a question many fitness enthusiasts wonder about as they watch their favorite athletes score touchdowns, sink three-pointers or win marathons. While many athletes have great genetics to start with, most of them have to put in countless hours at the gym and watch what they eat to reach their goals.
You might have read about Tom Brady’s ridiculously clean diet or the new revolution of NBA players going vegan and wondered if you have to be that strict. The truth is, you don’t. You can eat like an athlete and still eat all the food groups. Restriction and extreme is not required, but discipline is. So, if you want to eat like your idol, focus on three Q’s.
Athletes know what they need. The quantity of food in their diet is essential to making or breaking their goals. Too much or too little can have detrimental effects. Most of them have sports dietitians calculating their calorie and macronutrient needs. While you may not have that, the good news is you can still figure it out! Download the STYR Labs app and plug in your height, weight, age, gender and training volume and the app will calculate and tell you what you need for calories and macros. Staying in tune and aware of your eating throughout the day will help you make better, more appropriate choices at each meal and snack.
The quality of your diet is what sets apart the amateurs and pros. If you want to eat like an athlete, you will have to let go of some of the less-quality items in your diet. Here is a guide to go by:
- Grains: Whole grains all the way! Pop-tarts and pastries are out and oatmeal and quinoa are in! Grains power an athlete’s day with energy, but you must choose whole grains and spread them out over the day.
- Protein: Lean out your protein! Protein helps build lean muscle and should be included at each meal and snack. No more fried chicken, instead replace with baked, grilled and pan-seared proteins. Lean beef, chicken without the skin, pork with the fat drained off, fish turkey and dairy all fit.
- Fat: Healthy fat all the way! Ditch the creamy salad dressings and spreads and focus on mono- and poly-unsaturated fats like nuts, seeds, nut butters, avocado, healthy oils and fatty fish. Fat yields more calories per gram than carbs and protein do, so be sure to watch your portions.
- Vegetables: Fill your plate with veggies as much as you can! They provide the vitamins, minerals and antioxidants required to recover.
- Fruit: Eat your fruit, don’t drink it! Eating fruit or blending the whole fruit into a smoothie is the best way to go as it gives you fiber. While nutrient-rich, be careful with the “all-natural juices” as they can load your day with calories quickly.
- Beverages: Focus on water and cutting out beverages full of sugar. Hydration is important for athletes, but make sure your sips aren’t full of calories you don’t want.
- Splurges: Entire cheat days are out! Splurging minimally is in. One to two meals per week you should enjoy what you want, not everything you ever wanted.
Quintessential means to imitate or model. Want to eat like an athlete? Model their fueling schedule. It’s not enough to know the quantity and quality of your food. You need to learn how to fuel consistently over the course of the day. Here is a sample fueling plan, but be sure to personalize the quantity based on your calorie and macro needs:
- Breakfast: Oatmeal with peanut butter and berries, Greek yogurt and water
- Snack: Raw veggies, hummus, fruit and water
- Lunch: Salad with chicken, nuts/seeds, goat cheese, apple and balsamic vinaigrette on the side paired with a serving of quinoa, couscous or farro and water
- Pre-workout Snack: Almonds, grapes, cheese and water
- Post-workout Snack: Protein powder blended with low-fat milk and fruit
- Dinner: Salmon, sweet potato, veggies roasted in olive oil and water
- Tips: To add calories, increase the serving size of healthy fat. To lower calories, decrease the serving size of higher calorie foods and replace with veggies.
If you are interested to hear more and receive personalized nutrition, check out STYR’s app, fitness tracker and suite of connected smart devices. Through the platform, you can track and log activity, food, hydration, sleep, nutrition, mood and more to personalize your nutrition needs based on data, science and access to registered dietitians, nutritionists and personal trainers.
Please note that this information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. We insist that you always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical/health condition or treatment and before initiating a new health care regime. Do not disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on the STYR app or on www.MyNutritioniQ.com.