A Day of Offseason Meals for A Professional Athlete
As often as I get asked the question ‘what do you eat in a typical day?’, I get asked even more about what the athletes I work with eat. And while I’m constantly receiving food photos from my athlete clients, I felt it would be best to share a day of eating from the professional athlete I spend the most time with, live with, and cook for – my husband! Cody has played professional baseball since 2011.
Today, I’m taking you through a typical day of the offseason fueling that got him ready for his pre-season workouts as he heads into spring training. The types of foods may vary slightly from day to day, and the portion sizes also vary depending on where he’s at in his training cycle, but the focus of sports nutrition stays the same: fueling to increase performance, promote optimal recovery, and to maintain hydration. Having a solid nutrition plan during the offseason can help athletes improve their body composition and strength, reduce the potential for injury, maintain healthy immune function, and enable them to train harder and for longer durations. The offseason is the perfect time to revamp current eating habits after a long season with frequent travel for road games or even try something new that normally wouldn’t be possible during the season. Whether an athlete’s goal is to lose or gain weight, the offseason is the ideal time to make these changes to body composition. Here’s an inside look at Cody’s daily offseason nutrition plan.
Cody is a creature of habit and has almost the same breakfast every single day. He sticks to what he knows will keep him full and energized through his 2+ hour morning training session, and what he knows his stomach tolerates best. We prioritize carbohydrates and protein here, with 1 cup of rolled oats (topped with natural peanut butter, pumpkin seeds, and blueberries) along with 3 scrambled eggs. This breakfast contains about 65 grams of carbohydrates, and 40 grams of protein. Depending on how hungry he is, he may also add a banana here for additional carbohydrates. For those who like more of a savory option at breakfast, some of my other professional athletes also love making veggie omelets filled with broccoli, onion, peppers, and potatoes.
With only about 30-45 minutes between his training session and hitting, he likes to keep it simple again prioritizing carbohydrates and protein, by having an energy bar and pairing it with a piece of fruit. This quick bar + apple snack contains about 47 grams of carbohydrates and 17 grams of protein. Depending on the day, he may swap this out for a smoothie instead (shown later in the day here as snack #2) but typically prefers to have that between lunch/dinner.
The off-season is an excellent time to try new performance foods or experiment with a fueling tactic you may continue to use throughout the season. Because both practice and games make for long days at the field, portable nutrient-dense snacks that have carbohydrates are key so players can bring them to the field. Potatoes are an easy, portable and convenient whole food fueling option.
For example, players can prepare roasted or boiled potatoes with salt, or make these Potato Energy Bites and keep them in a portable, resealable container to fuel before longer training sessions or between double headers. There are also potato performance smoothie recipes that could be used as a pre-game snack to top off energy stores.
After back-to-back training and hitting sessions, Cody loves having a large Roasted Potato, Vegetable, and Tempeh Hash Bowl for lunch. We always use either Russet potatoes (shown here) or purple-blue potatoes, plus carrots, asparagus or broccoli, mushrooms, and tempeh. He also adds some avocado on top. This meal contains about 80 grams of carbohydrates, 48 grams of protein, 35 grams of fat, and 26 grams of fiber.
Because your body’s own stores of carbohydrate are limited and may be depleted – even in a single session of intense and/or prolonged exercise– it’s important to replenish them.1 Potatoes are the base of this meal, and they provide key nutrients at an affordable price. A medium (5.3 oz.) skin-on white potato has 26 grams of carbohydrate per serving. Potatoes are an excellent carbohydrate option for minor leaguers on a tight budget, as research suggests potatoes have the highest score per dollar (along with sweet potatoes and carrots) on eight important nutrients including potassium and vitamin C.2 A medium potato has 27 mg of vitamin C per serving, which is 30% of the daily value. Vitamin C aids in collagen production, a major component of muscle tissue – and supports iron absorption.3 Potatoes also have 620 mg of potassium per serving, which is 15% of the daily value and more than a medium-sized banana (422 mg per serving).4 People often ask me the difference between white potatoes and sweet potatoes and this helpful chart illustrates how both are excellent for fueling athletic performance.
In order to consume enough calories to support his training, Cody often chooses smoothies as snacks. It’s also an easy way for him to load up on vegetables, adding at least 4 large handfuls of leafy greens such as spinach or kale. His timing will vary depending on if it’s season or offseason. During season, he often makes this in the morning and takes it with him to the field. His go-to smoothie combination is frozen berries, banana, spinach or kale, unsweetened vanilla almond milk, turmeric, plant-based protein powder, and creatine. This smoothie provides 55 grams carbohydrates, 18 grams fat, and 33 grams protein. He occasionally also adds in 2 tablespoons of flax or chia seeds here.
For dinner Cody typically prefers some form of seafood, which is most often salmon. Shown here is baked lemon herb salmon, quinoa that was prepared in bone broth, and steamed collard greens with everything but the bagel seasoning on top. Regardless if it’s offseason or post-game during season, his dinner is very similar. Baked or grilled fish, with either quinoa, rice, or potatoes, and steamed or sautéed vegetables.
Before bed, Cody typically has another smoothie very similar to the one between lunch and dinner, but without the leafy greens, turmeric, or creatine. He also occasionally adds an avocado to this smoothie, depending on the rest of his intake for the day. Smoothies and shakes make eating the same amount of calories so much easier, without making him feel overly full.
This blog post was sponsored by Potatoes Fuel Performance. Check out the performance recipes on PotatoesFuelPerformance.Com for fueling inspiration to power your athletic goals.
1. Burke LM, Hawley JA, Wong SH, Jeukendrup AE. Carbohydrates for training and competition. J Sports Sci. 2011;29(Suppl 1):S17-27.
2. Drewnowski A. New metrics of affordable nutrition: Which vegetables provide most nutrients for least cost? J Acad Nutr Diet. 2013;113(9):1182-7.
3. Pullar JM, Carr AC, Vissers M. The roles of vitamin C in skin health. Nutrients. 2017;9(8):866.
4. FoodData Central. USDA, ARS website. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/. Updated March 2019. Accessed February 6, 2020.