12 Foods Personal Trainers Swear By
By Dana Leigh Smith
Ask any trainer and they’ll tell you that there’s a lot more to losing weight and getting fit than simply hitting the gym.
If you want to reach your goals, you not only have to train like a fitness pro, you’ve got to eat like one, too. To find out exactly what that entails, we checked in with some top notch trainers from across the country and asked them what foods they eat each and every day. No, mimicking their eating style doesn’t mean totally giving up on indulgences or living solely off of “bro foods” like grilled chicken and protein shakes—quite the opposite, actually! Don’t believe it? Scroll down to find out exactly what shows up on their plates day after day, and incorporate some of them into your own daily diet.
That's not all we got them to reveal! Recharge with 7 Post-Pump Protein Shake Recipes from Top Trainers.
“Before my morning training session, I like to have a bit of tuna. I slice heirloom tomatoes into a bowl, top them with a can of wild-caught tuna and drizzle a bit of extra virgin olive oil on top. This provides a great low-carb protein punch, essential polyunsaturated fats and a serving of raw vegetables.” - Dr. Sean M. Wells, DPT, PT, OCS, ATC/L, CSCS Owner and PT, Naples Personal Training, LLC
Just can't stomach the smell of tuna? No need to stock up on the cans. Swap it out for one of the other 6 Best Fish for Weight Loss.
“I’ve always been a big believer in balance: Train hard, work hard and live hard—and sometimes that involves a bit of bubbly. Indulging once and while in a bit of something that’s bad for your health is often extremely good for the soul!” - Expert Trainer, Dan Roberts
“Avocados are great pre- and post-run fuel. I think I eat one in some form or another almost every day—either in a salad, on a piece of toast or in the form of guacamole. They are also great with eggs!” - Debora Warner, founder, president and program director of Mile High Run Club
“Many people swear by their favorite energy bar or smoothie to give them an energy boost. However, since I eat whole foods whenever possible, I reach for a clementine instead. They are the perfect bite-size energy boost either before or after a workout, and are loaded with essential vitamins.” - Jimmy Minardi, former pro-athlete and Founder of Minardi Training in NYC, East Hampton & Santa Barbara
“I keep my fridge and pantry stocked with healthy foods that I can grab easily and eat on the go—like Greek yogurt. I’ll either eat it plain or toss in a few nuts or berries to make it taste a bit more decadent and delicious. The protein helps aid muscle recovery after my workouts and keeps hunger at bay between clients.” - Jess Horton, ACE Certified Personal Trainer at Jim White Fitness and Nutrition Studios
Just make sure you're picking up pots with more protein than sugar! Use our handy guide to the 11 Best & Worst Greek Yogurts for Weight Loss to speed up and slim down your next shopping trip.
“A steak seems to be the only food that leaves me feeling full after a tough strength training session. Makes sense, being that heavy lifting breaks down muscle and protein helps repair it. I typically opt for grass-fed, local cuts. Yeah, they’re more expensive, but it's worth spending extra for something I put in my body.” - Dustin Hassard, NCSF, Head Coach, Modern Athletics
“Recently I have been fueling my post-workout recovery with watermelon. This delicious fruit helps replenish depleted glycogen stores and refuels my tired muscles. Since watermelon has high water and electrolyte content, sometimes I’ll even throw back a homemade watermelon drink—made by blending pieces of watermelon with ice—during a strenuous cardio workout.” - Jay Cardiello, NSCA, personal-trainer to the stars*
“I keep a jar of almonds in my car and one at each of my fitness studios. That way, no matter what I’m doing, I can grab a handful whenever hunger strikes. Not only do almonds have the protein to keep me going, they also have that crunch factor we all crave. I just have to be careful to limit myself to just a handful at a time, since almonds are high in calories and so easy to overeat!” - Mr. Ray, Founder & Chief Fitness Strategist, FIT RxN
“If I’m short on time, I drink a almond butter smoothie to repair my muscles after my workout. I start with a base of unsweetened almond milk which beats the taste of plain water. Then, I add a scoop of whey protein to help increase muscle synthesis, dry oats to help replenish my muscle glycogen levels, a frozen banana to help replenish electrolytes, natural almond butter to add some essential fats, and then I top it off with two graham crackers for some fun and added flavor.” - Jim White RD, ACSM HFS, Owner of Jim White Fitness and Nutrition Studios
“Oatmeal or oat bran is a warm comfort food for me. I live life on the go, so packing a container of oatmeal to throw in the microwave is just so easy. It's quick to prepare, high in fiber and can be accompanied with so many different things like nuts, chia, flax or fruit. One of my favorite additions is protein powder. I mix it with my oats to make ‘proatmeal.” - Victoria Viola, NYC-based, NSCA Certified Personal Trainer and Online Fitness Coach
Oatmeal is just one resistant starch, a form that makes your body work harder to digest your food. (That means you burn more calories!) You can change the starch in pasta to be more resistant simply by popping it in the fridge. For more invaluable tips, check out our exclusive 10 Best Nutrition Tips Ever.
“One of my all-time favorite go-to snacks is edamame. I literally fuel my body everyday with these powerful green guys. And, why not? Soybeans pack a big punch when it comes to health benefits. They are low in calories, rich in essential amino acids and a good source of fiber. Edamame also contains anti-inflammatory properties, which can be beneficial to those with arthritis or anyone suffering from inflammation.” - Dan Roberts
“I’m always on the go, and I rely on healthy snacks to keep me fueled throughout the day. In the beginning of the week, I make a batch of hard-boiled eggs and keep them in the refrigerator. I grab two as I run out the door each morning and pop them in my mouth a few hours later when I’m hungry for a snack. Each egg has about six grams of protein, which helps tide me over until I can have a bigger meal during my morning break.” - Mr. Ray
“Eggs are rich in protein, healthy fats and vitamins, and even more importantly, they’re affordable—even locally-sourced, organic eggs aren't going to break the bank! Plus, I love that they provide energy without weighing me down. I’ll pair an egg with a splash of balsamic vinegar and fiber-rich Brussel sprouts as a meal, or I’ll have a hard-boiled egg or two before a workout.” - Lindsey K Yacobush, NCSF, Coach, Modern Athletics
“I typically have at least two or three servings of greens per day—most of them being kale. Kale is one of the healthiest vegetables around. When you steam it, it serves up some special cholesterol-lowering benefits and can also help ward off cancer. Plus, it tastes great in just about everything. I add it to omelets and pasta dishes, or combine it with kumato tomatoes, chicken and olive oil to make a salad.” - Kyle Hartcorn, NFPT Certified, Co-Founder of No Limits Fitness