Categories: Health Nutrition

How to snack like a pro athlete

August 18, 2017

What exactly are pro athletes chowing down on between workouts? We got five Polar athletes to share so you can snack like a pro athlete, too.

Life as a professional athlete seems like it would be pretty sweet. You get to train, work out, and compete – for a living! – and have all the best resources at your disposal (hello, massage therapist on call). Plus, if you’re working out nonstop, you also get to snack nonstop, too, right? Well, not quite. For professional athletes, snacking and fueling their bodies properly is an integral part of training – and as much as they may crave, say, an entire jar of Nutella after a long run or ride, most have strict nutrition guidelines from their coaches or registered dietitians.

Molly Huddle, long-distance runner

“I have snacks on hand all day! Before a workout, I usually like a cup of Providence’s local New Harvest coffee with coconut milk and some Pamela’s pancakes with protein powder sprinkled in. I like Gatorade gels and Gatorade Endurance formula drink during my long runs – especially the new natural formula. The lemon-lime drink and apple-pear gels are my favorites. After a run, I usually have a smoothie with cashew milk, banana, frozen berries, and spinach.”

Gwen Jorgensen, triathlete

“I typically do three training sessions every day, and there’s no such thing as a typical day. I pay special attention to my key sessions – where I’m trying to fuel an adaptation or get my gut ready for race day. I’m always trying to put on and maintain muscle for the swim. I arrive at those sessions typically after breakfast, which is a bowl of oatmeal with milk, banana, and nuts. After the swim, I’ll eat a cup of yogurt or a banana, and within 30 minutes post-swim I’m sitting at the table for lunch, which is typically my biggest meal of the day. Lunch consists of rice, veggies, and meat. If I’m doing a bike workout in the afternoon, I always bring a Red Bull and some sort of bar, banana, or gel. The key is to stay fueled for the session and not get depleted for the next day. Typically Saturday simulates a race day for me: a hard bike followed quickly by a short, fast run. This is a session where on the bike I drink Red Bull and water, just as I would on race day. Rehearsal for racing is one of the best things a triathlete can do.”

Andy Potts, Ironman triathlete

“I love snacks. But when I’m focused on a major goal, I try not to snack too much. I try to have planned meals as much as possible, but snacking is inevitable, especially when you’re burning more than 5,000 calories a day. The key to snacking is to nosh on something that can have a dual purpose: satisfying a craving and fueling your body. During training, I fuel my body with an electrolyte drink and with PowerBar Performance bars. Since my workouts last anywhere from three to seven hours, it’s important for me to train my gut to metabolize the fuel I would use during a race. On a more fun note, my go-to post-workout snack is salt and pepper pistachios. I love salty foods, and nuts are a great source of protein and healthy fats. Then, after a hard day’s work, I’ll indulge in some dark chocolate after dinner.”

Kate Grace, track & field runner

“Snacking: my favorite topic! Before a workout, I normally eat a light meal and have some coffee around 90 minutes before I work out. But if the timing is weird and I haven’t eaten in more than two hours, I might have a light protein shake, a bar, or bread with nut butter. During long runs, I’ll take a Gu – Chocolate Outrage flavor – plus a bit of Gatorade powder in my handheld bottle. If I’m doing interval work, I won’t have any solid food, but I will take sips of a sports drink in between reps. Lately I’ve been using Sword Endurance Drink Mix. After a normal workout, I eat a Picky Bar – All-in-Almond flavor. If it’s going to be a long time before a meal, or if it was a really hard workout, I’ll have a bit more. I also love chocolate milk.”

Mirinda “Rinny” Carfrae, Ironman triathlete

“My standard morning pre-workout snack is a Bonk Breaker bar. I like the peanut butter chocolate chip flavor best. Mid-workout snacks depend on the workout: For easier long rides, I usually opt for a Snickers bar from the gas station! But for a harder session, I’ll grab a Gu gel, which is easier to digest for some quick energy. Right now my favorite flavors are salted caramel or lemonade. Post-workout, it’s all about a milkshake from Sweet Cow Ice Creamery! They’re so good. I limit my Sweet Cow visits to once per week, though. Every other day after a hard session I’ll go for a glass of chocolate milk.”