Director of Sports Nutrition Shares the Team’s Favorite Meals and Snacks

It’s the start of football season and we caught up with Sarah Snyder, MS, RD, CSSD, LD, CSCS, to learn about how the Baltimore Ravens fuel up for football season.

“Taco Tuesday is a popular meal among the team,” says Snyder. “Tacos provide the flexibility to include various proteins like chicken, fish or steak; carbohydrates including brown rice, whole grain or corn tortillas; and vegetables from sauteed bell peppers and onions to salsas and lettuce toppings.

Snyder says that the willingness of players to try new foods is something she especially appreciates about them.

“Items like cauliflower rice or bok choy are sometimes tried for the first time and enjoyed – it’s positive to add a new food into one’s diet for increased nutrition and variety,” she explains.

Variety is key with football players because they require so much fuel – for practice, strength-training sessions, and more.  “Their overall workload is elevated with full days of meetings, so finding opportunities to eat enough calories throughout the day can be a challenge because the players are constantly in motion or in a meeting,” explains Snyder. “Smoothies and shakes work well as snacks when time is limited. The peanut butter banana chocolate shake is popular with everyone and includes chocolate milk, peanut butter, and frozen bananas.”

Snyder is a big fan of including dairy in the team’s meals and snacks. She says every team she’s ever worked with at the collegiate and professional level relies on dairy in various forms.

“Chocolate milk and/or whey protein used in smoothies or shakes is a great way to promote recovery for the muscles due to the high leucine content among the essential amino acids. Some athletes prefer to eat immediately after practice and will have a turkey and cheese sandwich or a chicken quesadilla with a glass of milk,” explains Snyder.

Snyder ensures there is always cheese on the various to-go sandwich options for the team as well.

“It can be a breakfast sandwich made up of egg and cheese on a bagel or English muffin, a tuna melt with cheese, a cheddar and BBQ chicken sandwich or even a classic cheese, turkey, and/or ham sandwich garnished with pickles or jalapenos. Fresh fruit such as berries, an orange or banana and baked chips are paired with the sandwich,” says Snyder.

Fueling football players is her full-time job, but Snyder did give us a few tips for the non-professional athlete, too.

“Plan whenever possible so you can avoid skipped or missed meals or having to reach for something just because it’s convenient.  Always have a non-perishable snack such as trail mix and water with you to ensure you are not going long periods without fuel or recovery, especially during heavy periods of training.”