Now, we’ve come to my final installment on what personal trainers eat! Highlighting dinnertime — that final big meal of the day — feels like the most appropriate way to close this series. I interviewed another group of personal trainers to see what they fill their dinner plates with and why they eat the way they do.
After all, nutrition and fitness aren’t just about the what but also the why. They’re about finding and maintaining an optimal balance between these two W’s.
If you’re a fellow trainer or all-around fitness lover looking for better ways to balance your meal at the end of a long, sweaty day, look no further! Every trainer below is focused on consuming the right nutrients for their bodies and work(out) schedules, and what they share could give you a jumping-off point.
You’ll find commonalities among the food groups they emphasize, but each of their philosophies is unique to their personal circumstances.
During the week, dinner usually looks something like this: Some sort of protein (chicken, beef, or pork), lots of veggies, and maybe something carb-y, like rice or brown rice pasta.
I often eat out during weekends, which means that I eat whatever I feel like. My favorites include burgers and fries, pasta, and Eggs Benedict for brunch. I don’t consider weekends “cheat meals.” They’re just meals. I don’t follow the idea of cheat meals because that, to me, is dangerous territory that can lead me to disordered eating and issues with food.
I didn’t have a diagnosed eating disorder. But I have experienced disordered eating in the past, so getting too strict with my food can cause some negative feelings to creep back up. I don’t count calories or carbs. I enjoy a more relaxed attitude around food these days. I follow a food freedom philosophy (you can read more about that here).
My meals always include protein to keep my muscles in full repair mode and keep me satisfied. My nighttime meal includes protein and fats and is light on the carbs so my body doesn’t have to work too hard at night to metabolize food.
Sleep time is when the body recovers, so I don’t want to give my body any more work than it already has to do!
I tend to get home from the studio late, so I like to make a meal as quickly as possible! A typical dinner means a huge green salad with a variety of colorful vegetables, seeds, nuts, and a homemade dressing. I like to include a variety of veggies like cucumbers, peppers, broccoli, radishes, and I love, love, love avocados.
For protein, I eat mostly plant-based, so I will put in some plant-based protein like Beyond Meat or a wild-caught white fish.
Hope Pedraza is a certified personal trainer, a certified nutrition coach, and the founder and creator of inBalance, a fitness and wellness studio in San Antonio, TX. She teaches a variety of classes for all ages and fitness levels. These classes include dance cardio, barre, HIIT, interval training, pilates, and strength training.
I have endured some crazy diets due to stomach issues and the personal trainer life.
There are interesting industry assumptions/pressures on how to look and what to eat. After years on a rollercoaster of being too skinny and then gaining weight and then losing it again, I finally feel that I enjoy the most balanced relationship with food.
My dinner is very similar to my lunch: 75% of the plate is veggies, and 25% is whatever else I need. What am I craving? Do I need chicken, lamb, eggs, or maybe a sweet potato? I listen to my body.
Some tips: Make all of your meals. It seems like a lot of work, but you get into a system. Drink 100 ounces of water a day, and SLEEP!
Lesley Logan is a fitness business coach and a PMA-certified Pilates teacher who leads international Pilates retreats. She is the author of Profitable Pilates: Everything But the Exercises, and her advice has been featured in Pilates Style Magazine and Vogue. Her Pilates workout and business coaching tutorials can also be found on PilatesAnytime.com.
My food philosophy is balance. It’s been my experience that people often eat because they need energy. However, other than the lack of sleep, the lack of energy doesn’t often come from the lack of calories but from the lack of nutrients and water that help us properly metabolize the calories we already have.
So in essence, we over-consume calories to make up for under-consuming water and nutrients. We often eat oversized portions, especially of carbs or starches. I try to balance that out by making vegetables the largest portion or at least equal to the starch portion.
Dinner varies, but generally, there is a vegetable, a starch, and a protein. An example of a typical dinner is: Pasta shells mixed with a vegetable medley and a can of chicken, topped with marinara and a light sprinkle of cheese. Most dinners have either broccoli or cauliflower, plus carrots.
If I eat one serving, I have 16 ounces of lemon water and wait ten minutes. If I’m still hungry after ten minutes, I’ll have a second serving; if not, then I don’t.
I find that this approach helps keep my nutrition in balance and prevents me from feeling hungry.
Jeremy Kring is a former U.S. Marine and now a certified personal trainer, a teacher of personal training, and the owner of Jumping JACs in Middletown, PA. He teaches exercise classes, such as SYNRGY360, and circuit classes for people of all ages.
NOTE: These responses have been edited for clarity.
Lauren Smith is the Managing Editor of Exercise.com. She is passionate about nutrition and holistic health (how the body, mind, and emotions intersect). She lives in Baltimore City, where she writes stuff, plays music, embarks on long power walks through the park, takes contemporary dance lessons, and enjoys healthy, flavorful cuisine. Lauren has written for a literary journal called Skelter and for Honestbodyfitness.com.