Phillies' dietitian on how to eat like a pro

Katie Cavuto Boyle, owner of Healthy Bites, packages meals. She is the registered dietitian of the Philadelphia Phillies.

Quinoa, Hummus, Trail Mix and homemade energy bars are a far cry from the traditional clubhouse spreads of years past. Considering the competitive atmosphere of professional sports, the Phillies organization and players have adopted a mantra on healthy eating.

There is an understanding that good nutrition is a key component to athletic performance and the overall health of the players. From strength and conditioning programs to batting practice, healthful meals have become a part of the Phillies’ day-to-day training regimen for both the major and minor league teams.

You may be surprised to know that players report to the clubhouse mid-day for a 7 p.m. game time. Considering the time spent at the ballpark, players usually eat 2-3 meals while they are there. Once at the ballpark, nourishing meals are provided by the clubhouse staff. The goal of each meal is to provide clean food choices that include energizing carbohydrates, lean proteins and healthy fats which fuel and nourish their bodies. Curious as to what they eat and why? Here is a peek at the daily menu for the major league players.

Arrival Meal:  Carbohydrates are paired with lean proteins and healthy fats. The goal of this meal is to maximize nutrition as they have ample time to digest it before game time. Un-refined carbohydrates like rice, beans and quinoa are provided for energy. Lean proteins promote satiety and lasting energy. Healthy fats like nuts and seeds promote satiety and help with inflammation as they are rich in anti-inflammatory, omega-3 fatty acids.

A peek at the menu:

  • Bison Burritos, Southwest Quinoa Salad
  • Pulled Chicken with Homemade Baked Beans and Yogurt Based Cole Slaw
  • Chicken Sausage with Walnut Pesto and Pasta, Tomato and Cucumber Salad

Mid-day snacks:  hummus and veggies, fresh fruit, unsalted/unsweetened trail mixes, KIND Bars, and homemade baked goods are provided for grab and go energy in between meals to fuel the players for batting practice. The focus is on providing real foods instead of highly processed snacks that lack in nutrients.

Pre-Game: Likely one of the most important meals of the day, the goal of this meal is to provide easily digested carbohydrates and lean proteins without a lot of fat. Fats can slow down digestion and leave players feeling sluggish on the field.

A peek at the menu:

  • Bison Ragu with Pasta, Garden Salad
  • Chicken and Vegetable Stir-Fry with Brown Rice
  • Turkey Meatloaf, Roasted Potatoes and Sautéed Kale

Pre-Game Snack: Some players skip the pre-game meal and opt for a smaller snack like a smoothie or peanut butter and jelly sandwich. PB & J sandwiches are a staple meal for major and minor league players alike. Quick and simple, PB & J’s are a great example of easily digestible carbohydrates (bread and jelly) and satiating protein/healthy fats from the peanut butter.

Game time: During the game players need carbohydrates that will digest quickly and provide instant energy. The Phillies opt for real foods like honey sticks and fresh grapes to fuel them while they play.

Post-Game:  This meal is all about re-fueling. Similar to pre-game meals, easily digestible carbohydrates and lean proteins are provided. Fats are limited during recovery as it can slow down the absorption of carbohydrates (glycogen repletion) and protein for muscle recovery.

A Peek at the Menu: 

  • Citrus Glazed Salmon, Rice Pilaf and Roasted Vegetables
  • Roasted Chicken, Mashed Sweet Potatoes, Grilled Asparagus
  • Sea Bass Tacos, Rice and Beans, Salsa bar

On-the-Go Recovery Foods:  If players are not hungry during the 30-60 minute post-game recovery window, they may opt for a smoothie or some chocolate milk which boasts the perfect recovery ratio (4:1) of carbohydrates to protein. Once they re-fuel they may eat a small meal a bit later in the evening. 

Try This: 

  • Recovery Smoothie: 1 cup frozen tart cherries (anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant rich), ½ cup frozen blueberries (anti-oxidant rich), ½ banana, 1 cup unsweetened almond milk, 1 scoop (10 grams) NSF certified protein powder. 

Want to eat like the Phillies? Give these recipes a try.

Katie Cavuto, MS, RD, is a culinary nutritionist. She’s the president of Healthy Bites, a company offering local and national culinary nutrition services, and the dietitian for the Philadelphia Phillies. Follow her on twitter @healthybites and on Facebook.

Read more Sports Doc for Sports Medicine and Fitness.