5 Ways to Eat Like a Pro Athlete

Amy Goodson, MS, RD, CSSD, LD

Eat multiple times a day
Your goal may not be to be a pro athlete, but eating multiple meals and snacks a day can help keep your metabolism up! Think of your metabolism like a fire. If you want to get a fire burning, you need to ignite it and then add small amounts of wood to keep it blazing. The same thing applies with metabolism — you need to ignite or jumpstart your metabolism with breakfast, then give it small, nutrient-rich meals and snacks over the course of the day. This will keep your energy levels up, your blood sugar levels stable and keep you from being as hungry at night.

Be a snacker
We all think of athletes and kids as people who eat all day, all the time, but the truth is, we all need to do that. Plugging in nutrient-rich snacks in-between meals will keep you from being as hungry at the next meal or snack and hopefully help you control your portion sizes. But, it’s all about what you snack with! Try an apple with 1-2 Tbs. peanut butter, 15 whole wheat crackers and a string cheese or 6oz. low-fat Greek yogurt with berries.

Get your protein in
Protein is needed at all meals and snacks! Not only does it build lean muscle mass and repair lean muscle after a workout, it also slows down digestion, meaning that it gets you full faster and keeps you full longer. Including a lean protein will help your meal or snack give you energy for a longer period of time by stabilizing your blood sugar. Add an egg with your oatmeal, chicken to your salad or put string cheese with your fruit; either way, add a lean source of protein to every meal and snack.

Athlete or non-athlete, you need to hydrate yourself over the course of the day. Drinking water or low-calorie flavored water are great ways to do that. Dehydration can make you feel bad, so it is important to get fluid at every meal and snack, drink water during your workout and keep a bottle at your desk. There is no need to over-drink, but consuming fluid consistently over the course of the day will help you stay hydrated. You need to drink more if you workout twice a day or when you are in hot, humid environments. Be sure to stock your tailgate party with water in addition to your adult beverages this Cowboys football season!

Refuel post-workout
After a workout, the goal is to get in some simple carbohydrate and quick-digesting protein in within 30-45 minutes. This helps your body recover from the exercise you just completed. You may not need a 500-calorie protein shake, but having some low-fat chocolate milk or a smoothie with low-fat milk, whey protein and berries will help you recover quickly and efficiently!