James Barnett is always hungry. As a trainer for both Solidcore and Cut Seven, the 27-year-old teaches 16 to 20 classes a week, or two to four times a day. On top of that, he does his own workouts—such as yoga or SoulCycle—once or twice a day. While he grew up eating pretty much whatever he wanted, his active lifestyle—which he took up after college—has made him more careful about what he eats. Since he eats so frequently, he tries to put high quality foods into his body—which for him means limited amounts of sugar, salt, and fried foods, and no alcohol on weekdays.
“My diet is directly linked to how I perform, whether I’m coaching or working out, so I treat my body like a machine, and food as its fuel,” says Barnett.
To see how he eats to stay in top shape, take a look through a typical day in Barnett’s protein-packed diet below.
Pre-6 AM Class Snack
“I start off my mornings coaching two to three classes in a row and need to put something in my body that is healthy but still quick and easy so I can be out the door by 5:30 to coach my 6 AM and have enough energy to make it through those early hours. I’ll either have two or three depending on how hungry I am when the alarm rings.”
“I’ve worked up quite the appetite coaching (or exercising if it’s an early workout day) so I come home for something a bit heavier,” says Barnett. “One-hundred percent whole wheat toast, whole avocado (half on toast and half diced) and three more eggs on top. If I don’t have an early morning, this is usually the first thing I eat.”
“A couple hours after eating avocado toast I’ll be ready for another light meal,” says Barnett. “This parfait is quite a heavy snack, yet super tasty, and boasts almost 35g of protein. The chia seeds add a little extra fiber to help keep me more full for longer, and along with the berries this meal is packed with antioxidants. The granola and fruit help satisfy any sweet tooth cravings that may try and pop up.”
“Time for something a bit heavier, with more carbs and protein to refuel and stay energetic throughout the day and afternoon coaching and workouts,” says Barnett. “This is usually my heaviest meal in terms of carbs. Depending on the day and where I am I’ll either cook something at home like a quinoa salad, chicken and rice, more eggs—or I’ll grab something out like Sweetgreen or Cava. Today it was Cava: brown rice and super greens bowl with chicken, hummus, and veggies. Light green harrissa dressing. The dressing is generally where people trip up so be careful over there! This will fill me up without the sleepy regret that comes with some other lunch options.”
“I’ve been eating nut (peanut or almond) butter with a banana for as long as I can remember,” says Barnett. “I love the taste—the sugar from the banana gives me a little boost and the nut butter is an extra treat to help keep me full.”
Second Afternoon Snack
“My best friend makes me these protein balls and I ALWAYS have them ready whenever hunger hits,” says Barnett. “They’re easy and perfect to snack on right before coaching or a workout to give your body some good carbs to burn off and extra energy. The recipe is different each batch but normally inside there is protein powder, rolled oats, almond butter, some honey, chocolate chips, and a pinch of salt.”
“[Dinner is] generally always high in protein and lots of veggies—lower on the carbohydrates,” says Barnett. “I love meat, all of it. During the week I limit red meats and for dinner I typically have fish that I prepare at home. Salmon for today—rich source of Omega-3 acids and a great protein to support my body’s recovery after a long day to help maintain and build muscle mass. Another avocado! I eat them so much because they’re obviously so tasty but an extremely good source of fat (also Omega-3 acids) that your body metabolizes extremely well and helps to limit cravings. The vegetables and sweet potatoes have a ton of vitamins in them to keep you body operating like a machine. I can also reuse them for a breakfast hash situation the following morning.”
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Consult with your doctor before beginning a new diet. Washingtonian does not endorse any diet without the supervision of a medical professional.