Some of us don’t exercise to eat. We eat to exercise. With rigorous workouts comes even more demanding nutrition that athletes adopt to support their active lifestyles. From rowers to running backs, sprinters to swimmers, we’ve got your bases covered for the recommended diets that fit your athletic needs off the field and in the kitchen. 


Recommended Diet: Spaghetti and cottage cheese 

John Korff is a frequent runner who not only puts in multiple miles a week here in Sarasota, but also founded the New York City Triathlon and the Sarasota Music Half Marathon. He recommends heaping bowls of spaghetti and steamed vegetables or cottage cheese for daily runners. Korff said if training causes the miles to increase, so should your daily portions. “Listen to your body,” Korff said. “Everyone’s cravings vary and what your body needs will determine the amount of carbs or protein you should consume.” His last point: this is heat-stricken Florida, so you better drink plenty of water. 

Recommended Diet:  Fresh salmon, steamed vegetables and low-fiber granola 

Paul Salter is the nutrition coach and dietitian at Bradenton’s IMG Academy. He advises the school’s players to eat nutritional meals that include all the staple food groups. Something along the lines of brown rice, salmon and vegetables make up an ideal recovery meal after a demanding day of training. When it comes time for a match, Salter says it is imperative to pack snacks to combat the undetermined length of matches. Granola, pretzels and fresh fruit serve as great quick-digesting options that replenish an athlete’s fuel tank to finish off the match strong.


Recommended Diet:  Cereal, chicken and fish

Rick Walker, head coach at Sarasota Sharks Masters and a globally ranked swimmer, recommends his diet to his swimmers. His day starts with something modest, usually cereal, before hitting the pool. When it comes to meat, Walker recommends options on the lighter end, such as chicken or fish. Prior to meets, sweets are an absolute no for at least 30 days.  


Recommended Diet:  Watered-down Gatorade and stir-fried rice

A graduate with a specialized degree in nutrition, Caitlynn Crouch is also a varsity rowing coach for Sarasota Crew. For day-to-day nutrition, Crouch encourages an abundance of water or watered-down Gatorade and meals that satisfy all your major food-groups. It is the diet leading up to a competition that is most important. A couple days before any meet, rowers should be consuming less because of their “taper-training,” but around 24 hours before the competition, athletes should begin to carbo-load with some whole-grain pasta or stir-fried rice. 


Recommended Diet:  Mixed fruit, grass-fed beef, avocados and protein shake

Jake Coleman, a Crossfit trainer at Synergy Fitness, advises any athlete serious about Crossfit to follow the Zone Diet. Coleman recommends chicken, fish and grass-fed beef; fruits, vegetables and whole-grain oatmeal; and avocados, nuts and natural olive oil as a few daily meal options. After an intense calorie-burning workout, he encourages Crossfitters to drink a protein shake within 15 minutes of activity and to have a meal adhering to the Zone Diet around 60 to 90 minutes later for ultimate recovery. Coleman’s final suggestion for athletes is to refrain from—oddly enough—protein bars, as many of them are falsely nutritional and full of sugar. 


Recommended Diet:  Red sauce, zucchini and Gatorade power bars

Jason Peters, a seasoned 10-year soccer instructor currently coaching for the Chargers Soccer Club in Lakewood Ranch, says that a player’s pre-game and post-game meals ideally are pasta with red sauce, grilled chicken and an abundance of colorful veggies: zucchini, corn, asparagus and broccoli. A pre-game snack should be eaten around 45 minutes before the coin toss and kick-off and be something quick like a granola bar or Gatorade power bar.