You wonder how top professional athletes eat to win? Practice, like anything! It takes practice and discipline to choose the right training program, know how to recover, what gear to select, but what to eat?  People often ask me, what should I eat?

Discover the benefits of  knowing what to eat so you can to be your best,  finish your first windsurfing slalom event, SUP race,  or complete your first marathon. Eating for sports performance requires planning, testing and seeing what digests easily.  The last thing you want to worry about is running out of steam and crashing early, or worse losing everything on the course you just ate!  There’s no one perfect formula that suits all, so be patient and find out what you like and plan ahead.

Suzie’s Daily Power Food

In this article I’m going to keep it short and delicious and tell you what I eat to do my best for all the sports I enjoy! My breakfast, everyday consists of healthy, satisfying protein and complex carbs. I need fuel to get me through training 4-5 clients back to back or a training session on the water. I’ll blend a cup of low-fat yogurt ( prefer the Greek higher protein content ), a cup of high quality granola blended with a cup of fresh berries!

Developing and balancing your training routine is for some, much easier than creating healthy eating habits for your sport(s) of choice. I recommend to keep it as simple as possible and to include a combo of fueling carbs with some protein. The two components will be satiating and energy sustaining.

We’ve heard way too long that carbs are bad. Sure, if you’re sedentary and sitting on the couch eating a whole bag of potato chips, a loaf of white bread washed down with a soda, and the only surfing you do is channel surfing! 

Think of carbs and associate the word “healthy or whole grains” instead or think of the phrase “complex carbs”; fuel for the brain and your muscles. Most Americans eat “refined” grains with high contents of sugar and little to no fiber.  Whole grains or healthy grains contain necessary nutrients like magnesium (  plays an important role in bone health and blood pressure regulation ) Vitamin E ( functions as an antioxidant ) and zinc (  for the metabolism of the foods you eat ).

Carbs are GOOD if you choose the right ones and use it as fuel.   Some examples of good carbs are: oatmeal, quinoa or granola. On race day, my first choice is a cup of oatmeal with a pinch of raw sugar for taste with fresh berries on top and a half a cup of coffee and lots of water mixed with a little electrolytes .  This is easy for me to digest and can keep me fueled for at least 2+ hours of high intensity!

Next, let’s talk about protein which is necessary to keep your muscles in tip top shape as  you break them down. The best way to consume healthy amounts of protein for athletic performance is to eat nutritious, low fat foods such as lean red meat, nuts,egg whites, fish, beans, rice, and low fat dairy products. I also enjoy mid morning during my heavy client loads, a protein shake with about 27+ grams of protein and low in sugar. I’ll use VitaCoco  coconut water as my base and add a cup of fresh berries.

How much protein to consume will vary for each person. But for most athletes and in my book all of you are atheltes if your reading : divide your current weight by 2.2, multiply that number by 1.4, the number you come up with is the number of grams of protein you should consume. Another method to try is consuming 10 to 15 percent of your daily calories from protein sources.

The right amount of healthy grains and protein will be different for each athlete ( you ).  Eating the two combined all throughout the day is really key. So before performance, during if possible and after to assure proper recovery and repair of the muscles and tissue you broke down. There is a proper balance that one should try to achieve and I recommend taking it slow as you introduce new foods. Be sure you can tolerate certain foods and “practice” combining the two. Don’t wait until the morning of a special event. That can be disastrous.  Also, remember to hydrate well before and after.

Make each stroke count, paddle hard, or rig a big sail and enjoy the benefits of eating well.

Aloha and see you on the water and at the finish line!

Suzie Cooney, CPT   of Suzie Trains Maui

To train with Suzie while visiting Maui or to hire her for your next SUP Fitness Event/Clinic you can contact her at

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