Many articles joke about the “college diet,” a meal for broke, stressed students that almost always consists of ramen, day-old pizza, or flat soda. Luckily, though, this need not be the case at Hopkins, where a slew of meal options is provided: the FFC, Nolan’s, Bamboo, Levering, and Char Mar (take this quiz to determine which JHU Dining Hall you are).

As an athlete at Hopkins, I don't have trouble eating. In fact, over intersession I sat at the FFC for so long that I was there for two meals in a row. The difficulty lies in finding the right food that will both give me enough energy for practice and keep my tummy happy (throwing up on the track is a real issue).

Whether you’re gearing up for a swim meet or just working out at the rec center, here are some helpful eating tips and meal ideas that will fuel your workout, as told by Hopkins athletes themselves.

Julia Pacitti: Swimming

Photo courtesy of Julia Pacitti

For swimmers, it is important to have carbs before, during, and after workouts, so proper hydration is vital. Before practice, I like to make a salad with grilled chicken from the FFC, and also eat a protein bar from Char Mar. The night before a swim meet, I always eat a bowl of whole-wheat pasta. On race day, I like to have my water bottle close by. Our coach is also really into Gatorade chews during a meet, about 30-60 minutes before a race. After we are done racing, our coach likes for us to drink a Gatorade recover protein shake.

How to Eat Like Julia: Head to the FFC, Levering, Nolan’s, or Char Mar to customize your own salad with the protein and toppings that you love. Then, stop at Char Mar to pick up a Clif Bar or a Gatorade Whey Protein Bar, and grab a box of pasta and some tomato sauce for dinner, too. 

Lyle Poisson: Fencing

Photo courtesy of Lyle Poisson

Fencing is similar to track or swimming in that there's a lot of waiting around, interspersed with short periods where you need to perform as high as you can. Sugar isn't too great because your body burns through it too fast and you get tired. Carbs, protein, fat, and salts are really important to a fencer’s performance. Foods with complex carbs give you the kind of nutrients you need to be able to keep up your energy throughout the day. Also because you're wearing so much equipment for most of the day, you lose a lot of water even when you're not competing. Salts are really important so that you can retain that water and keep it from passing through your system too fast.

I usually don't eat dinner until after I practice, but right before practice I usually have some peanut butter and fruit, usually a banana. Before a meet I'll usually have half a bagel and cream cheese from FFC, because salt and non-sugar carbs in the bagel help me have enough energy and retain water. I also like cottage cheese, which has good fats and protein to help me feel full so that I'm not hungry again an hour into practice.

How to Eat Like Lyle: If this is a one-time meal, you can stop in at the FFC for sunflower butter and whatever fruit is in season. Otherwise, you can pick up a jar of peanut butter and a bunch of bananas from Char Mar (though you may have to fight another athlete for the last jar). Char Mar also makes it easy for you to select, toast, and top your bagel to your liking.

Dane Morgan: Wrestling

Photo courtesy of Dane Morgan

I think a good mix of protein post lift, carbs early in the day, and a simple sugar before practice or competition are essential. It's difficult to eat a lot when wrestling, so the decision of which foods go in is crucial.

Before practice, I really like to eat an apple. It gives me an extra jolt of energy, a bit of fluid, and is light enough to not simply sit in my stomach. Before a wrestling match, there’s generally little food or drink intake. As a result, post weigh-ins usually involve rehydrating first. Usually, a mix of Pedialyte and water or a small bit of Gatorade gets fluid into the body and helps retain it. Next, a simple carb is a must. In the morning I prefer a mini bagel or two and clementines. They keep me full but provide the fuel I need. I continue to eat things like apple sauce and drink water throughout the course of a tournament. Applesauce is great! It's easy to digest and makes me feel full and hydrated all at once while giving a slight sugar boost for the next match.

How to Eat Like Dane: I don't recommend restricting your food intake unless you're competing like Dane; however, hydration is key for all athletes! You can pick up Gatorade at any of the four dining options on campus, and if you're lucky enough, you can catch the homemade applesauce at the FFC.

Ellie Clawson: Cross Country

Photo courtesy of Ellie Clawson
Cross Country fuel revolves around carbs and proteins to keep you going for those long races. I really enjoy toast or a bagel with sun butter, honey and banana. The panini press in the FFC is fun too, because you can customize a sandwich or wrap however you like.

How to Eat Like Ellie: If you're a big fan of the FFC, then it won't be tough to follow in Ellie's footsteps. If you're looking for your sandwich or wrap to be made for you, though, head on over to Char Mar or Levering.

Note: athletes' submissions have been edited for length and/or clarity.