Athletes have very different diets than the average American college kid. The rules that we have heard our whole lives for how to “eat healthy” are entirely different when you’re a full-time college athlete.

So we sat down with our friends on various varsity sports teams to get the scoop on their differing diets and to find out how they decorate their dining hall trays. Here’s what we found.



Photo by Emma Noyes

Spoon: What do you eat when game time rolls around?

Defenseman: “A classic before-game meal is spaghetti and meat sauce with chicken. Usually I eat 5 meals a day, because I’m trying to gain weight. It depends for everyone. But you want to get as many protein and carbs in before you play.”

Forward: “And a beer after the game.”

Of course.



Photo by Emma Noyes

Spoon: What type of food is most important to you?

Diver: “Unlike swimmers, who eat lots of carbs, we need more protein for power and strengthening. And because we have morning practice three times a week, we’re supposed to eat a light snack before bed to help us get through the morning without getting lightheaded.”



Photo by Emma Noyes

Pitcher: “You can be fat and play baseball.”

Outfielder: “Yeah, have you seen Bartolo Colon?”

Pitcher: “But when I eat like I’m supposed to, there’s lots of fruits, veggies, and one gram of protein for every pound that I weigh.”

Spoon: Anything else?

Outfielder: “An entire bowl of carrots. Don’t ask me. The nutritionist told us to eat that instead of a salad.”

Track and Field


Photo by Irene Limb

Spoon: What goals are you working toward with your eating right now?

Javelin Throw: I try to eat as much protein as I can shove down my throat. Right now, I’m trying to gain a little bit of weight, so I’ve been eating as much as I can, and trying to have a big portion of it be protein.”

The progress so far? He’s gained 3 pounds over the last month.

Sitting next to the javelin thrower, our shot put throwing friend is shaking his head.

Shot Put: “Even though we’re all high-power, ‘explosive’ athletes, I gain weight very easily. So I try to stay away from red meats, get a colorful plate, and drink 3 or 4 gatorades to restore electrolytes.” 



Photo by Irene Limb

Spoon: What is the perfect post-workout meal?

Defensive Player: “After I lift, I always have chocolate milk because it makes me feel better, and it’s also an excuse to have chocolate milk.” 

Spoon: Favorite dining hall food overall?

Defensive Player:I’ve been really liking the cut up zucchini. The other day, it was so good, I literally had 20,000 of them.”

Water Polo


Photo by Irene Limb

2-Meter: “Being a water polo athlete affects when I eat, how much I eat, and what I eat.”

Our friend is unlike those of us who eat simply when we’re hungry and choose whatever we feel like eating. Because her performance depends heavily on the state of her body, she tells us she needs to be mindful to get a good balance of vegetables, protein, fruits, and grains at every meal.



Photo by Irene Limb

Spoon: Is it difficult getting enough protein as a vegetarian?

Heavyweight Rower: “My friends are always shocked and appalled at just how much I eat. I think I tend to eat relatively healthily, but just a lot more than most of my NARP* friends.”

Before we depart, she tells us that the secret to the “best salad dressing ever” is hummus + peanut butter. Yas.

Spoon: Do you guys ever want to eat something but you can’t because you’re an athlete?

Lightweight Rower: “I generally enjoy eating healthy. I’ll go have chicken nuggets and fatty foods on occasion, but I don’t enjoy it as much as a solid meal on an energy standpoint.”

He’s very convincing; we find our loyalty to chicken nuggets shaken.

Cross Country/Sprinting


Photo by Irene Limb

Spoon: What does your typical breakfast involve?

Sprinter: “From a nutritional standpoint, I try to avoid foods that are really high in sugar.”

But the perfect breakfast actually incorporates some sugar, because it helps him run better.

Cross Country: “I’m always trying to lose weight. If I started eating like [the track & field guys] do, I would gain so much weight so fast.”

Spoon: How do you avoid this?

Cross Country: “I eat the sort of carbs that are very low-carb, very slow-digesting.”

An honorable mention goes to a hammer thrower friend who told us that he has a very simple rubric for how he chooses his meals: “I get the tastier option, and I get as much as I can.” Now that, we can relate to.

*Non-Athletic Regular People