What A Personal Trainer Eats In A Day

Whenever I tell someone I’m in the fitness industry, I always get a lot of questions about what a personal trainer eats. Because of my background, I think people assume I’m always very uptight about food, which I am, to an extent. I think that it’s very important for everyone to put quality nutrition into their bodies. Like, if you drove a Lambo would you fill it up with anything less than premium gas? No. However, I am SO FAR from being super restrictive about food, and I take the same approach to my clients. Because I used to have such a shaky history with food in my middle and high school years, I am very aware of the effect tracking numbers (like calories) can have on someone’s mental health, so this might surprise you, but I don’t preach tracking calories or macros. I focus a lot of my nutrition counseling on actually deprogramming clients that have been on restrictive diets for forever to learn to think for themselves. A lot of people spend forever following food rules that when they don’t have guidelines, they’re completely lost. I hope that by sharing what I actually eat in a day, and why, this gives a more valuable example of what it means to eat “clean,” without the need for extra validation from a food tracker.

Pre-workout: A mug of warm water with lime and 2 scoops (I think it’s equivalent to a teaspoon?) inulin powder (an artichoke root fiber powder), 2 long espresso shots. So the espresso shots are self-explanatory, but the inulin powder is something that I’m recently trying out to add more fiber to my diet. I’ve been taking 4 scoops a day for about 2 months now, and the verdict is still out. It’s very meh. It’s not doing any harm, but I’m also not sure if it’s doing any noticeable good. I’ll be sure to update you guys if I think it’s a miracle maker.

Post-workout breakfast: 2 breakfast turkey links, 2 hard-boiled eggs with a lot of hot sauce (I prefer Crystal Louisiana hot sauce), 1 cup seedless grapes. So you’ll see that I worked out on an empty stomach. I do this because I like my body’s mechanisms to be focused on the workout and not digesting food. I also do this because working out on an empty stomach allows your body to more rapidly tap into fat stores to convert it into energy due to depleted glycogen (sugar/carb) stores. I try to make sure the post-workout meal is super high in protein.

Lunch: 8 oz. chicken breast, well-seasoned and baked in the oven for 30 minutes at 350, 1.5 cups broccoli (I cook it in boiling water for approximately 5 minutes, or until soft), 1/2 avocado, more hot sauce. I try to make sure my plates are protein, vegetables, and fat because this formula is the one that I’ve found keeps me full without weighing me down. Avocado is my go-to good fat or olive oil dressing on salads. HOT SAUCE ON EVERYTHING, ALWAYS.

Snack: 1 cup grapes, 2 date bites (I put pitted Medjool dates in the food processor, roll them into little balls, sprinkle a little salt on top, and refrigerate), 1 tbsp extra protein peanut butter, 2 more shots espresso. I’m big on grapes and dates because I have such a sweet tooth. The biggest set up for failure is ignoring your persistent cravings. The only way things will be sustainable for life is if you find healthy ways to indulge. What I’ve noticed is that once you start eating right, though, your cravings are rarely that severe, and your healthy alternatives will start to satisfy you more than junk food.

Dinner: 2 glasses white wine, 1 bell pepper stuffed with ground turkey and topped with guacamole, salsa, and labneh (I prefer this a million times over sour cream. It’s got a richer taste plus it’s a fantastic probiotic), a Chloe’s fruit popsicle. 4 or 5 nights of the week I’ll have one or two glasses white wine with dinner, so yea I guess you could say I’m a moderate drinker? But this is my way of balancing everything. I don’t even see this as an indulgence, it’s just something that I do that works for me. I enjoy wine, I drink so if I were to try to cut alcohol out, it probably would not gonna stay that way for long. Again, protein from the turkey, fiber from the bell pepper, and fat from guacamole and labneh (which is like a mediterranean version of sour cream, very similar to greek yogurt).

Before bed: Green tea with 2 scoops inulin. Time to unwind! I don’t drink tea every night, some times it’s more hot water with lime. But I like this simply because it kind of sets the tone for bed.

Clearly, ya girl is a carnivore. This is typically my menu all Monday-Friday, and any changes to it will be super minor, like switching chicken to steak or broccoli to sautéed baby spinach. My main priorities are making sure I get protein, healthy fat, and veggies during my meals and keeping my sweet tooth limited to fruits and natural sugars.

I find that my body, like many people’s, works better when I don’t consume starches and sugars. If I eat that 10 oz. ribeye steak and broccoli (also a common menu item for me), I will be much less fatigued than if I consume a pasta or noodle dish of the same calorie amount. Knowing this, it’s very rare that you’ll catch me eating any kind of starchy items during the day, although on the occasional night out I’ll have that pasta.

Contrary to popular belief, when I do eat starch, I save those kinds of dishes for later on during the day because I know how it’ll make me feel—a little sleepy, kind of couch-stuck, and indulgent. Notice I didn’t demonize starches or pasta. I like to feel like that every now and then, especially winding down after a long week, but if I eat starches for lunch I’m going to be sleepy for work or my workouts. Not exactly what I want. I also don’t stress on the occasions I do eat a little more indulgently because I know what’s going into my body the rest of the time, and trust me, that pasta is not going to immediately land on your thighs. It’s a balancing act, the bigger picture of what you’re eating.

I understand that what I eat may not be feasible for everybody, but I do want to stress the importance of being able to know what is being put in your body, which is why I preach the importance of cooking your own meals. Invest in a non-stick pan and stop relying on takeout. Not only will you save money and know what you’re feeding yourself, but it will help you decipher how different food affects your body. Instead of demonizing or making certain food off-limits, I encourage everyone to pay attention to how certain kinds of food affect your body’s function in other ways. Get to know how your body and mind are affected by certain foods, and it will help you to take control of food rather than letting food control you. 

Images: Giphy (2); kayyorkcity / Twitter

Nicole Nam
Nicole Nam
Nicole Nam is a health and fitness aficionado, with a Bachelor's of Science in Nutrition and a Master's of Science in Kinesiology (Exercise Science). She loves to package information into a format that people can understand, and aims to write in a very entertaining yet informative format. Nicole is also a certified personal trainer living in LA, with her dog-son Yakuza.