What Do Professional Athletes Eat?

We all know that professional athletes engage in a strict regimen of diet and exercise. We all know that they eat upwards of ten thousand calories each and every day. This is necessary when the body is constantly burning those calories through demanding physical labor. When all you do is work out all day long, you need the extra boost. But what do professional athletes actually put into their bodies each day? The quick answer is this: lots of protein.

But of course it’s more complicated than that.

For someone who loves to eat, the diet is a dream come true. LeBron James has discussed his diet with interviewers in the recent past. For him, a typical game day begins with as many healthy nutrients as he can get: an omelet made with egg whites, hold the yolk, and smoked salmon (for healthy fats and omega-3s). Both options provide a lot of protein. He also adds a stack of gluten-free pancakes (no one asked if he had gut-health problems). To add a few more vitamins, he added blueberries to the stack.

He had another helping of salmon for lunch, in addition to servings of whole wheat — not gluten-free — pasta and veggies. More nutrients, healthy fats, omega-3s, and lots of carbs for energy. Directly before the game he would consume a single PB&J. Stomach cramps during a game wouldn’t be so good, now would they?

He also enjoys a small snack during halftime, when he would consume yet more protein and vitamins with apple and almond butter. In order to make the most gains from his strenuous game-day workout, he would drink a protein shake as soon as the game was finished. The shakes are usually made from fruit, almond milk and protein powder. He noted that in the hours following a game, he would avoid animal products and whey-based protein powder. 

For other professional athletes, it’s not all about the food — it’s about staying properly hydrated. Anyone who’s ever done long-term physical training knows the benefits of keeping water on hand. Tom Brady starts his days with lots of water (with added electrolytes) to ensure he doesn’t get dehydrated from the day before. He doesn’t drink water when enjoying a meal because he believes it will prevent his body from digesting food properly — but that’s an old wives tale. Water actually helps your body break down food.

The rest of Brady’s day includes lots of liquid protein and nutrients, fish, tons of veggies, and constant snacking. He said his diet was 80 percent alkalizing foods, and he avoids foods that create a lot of acid in the digestive tract.