Roger Federer
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Beyond Wheaties: What Your Favorite Athletes Eat for Breakfast

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Roger Federer
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Breakfasts of Champions

There’s nothing like watching our favorite athlete accomplish near-superhuman feats to inspire us to be our best selves. While there’s nothing wrong with a little push toward healthier living, it’s also important to remember that unless you’re a professional athlete as well, your day and your diet can and should look different than theirs. As Ben Johnson, certified nutrition coach and founder of BENTRAINED says, “I think a lot of people get carried away trying to eat like their favorite athlete. But everybody and every body is different.” We looked at the breakfasts of some of our favorite pro athletes and spoke with two nutrition experts to get the facts straight on how we normal folk can eat like them in ways that make sense for us and our bodies.

Related: 40 Breakfast Foods Ranked by Their Calorie Count

Tom Brady
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Tom Brady

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, according to Extra Crispy, what-do-nfl-players-eat-for-breakfast eats a strict plant-based diet. He loves “Brady Cakes,” featuring eggs, protein powder, and almond oil, and avoids caffeine and fungus, such as mushrooms. When asked for his take on it, Johnson responds candidly, saying “I’ve honestly never understood the extremism in Brady’s diet.” He concedes, “There could be factors at play that necessitate the notoriously strict diet. But it’s certainly not necessary for most people. Instead of bending over backward to eat plant-based that avoids caffeine and fungus, bend over backward to eat your fruits and veggies, drink your water, and get your sleep.” This simple approach should be easier to follow for most of us, because “simple equals successful,” according to Johnson. Matheson agrees, saying of Brady’s protein-packed “Brady Cakes”: “The average American male needs a balance of all three macronutrients. While this is Brady’s optimal fueling regimen, I would not recommend completely omitting a macronutrient in order to see results.”

Aja Evans
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Aja Evans

One thing we don’t always think of when we think of professional athletes is how busy their days must be. Holland Matheson, a Bay-area-based nutrition specialist reminds us: “To be an Olympian, time is not usually of endless supply. So, to stay on track, these athletes need to be prepared. And so can you! Learn from Aja Evans, a member of the USA bobsled team, who makes her own proteins bites. They consist of peanut butter, oats, protein powder, and accessories like crushed almonds and dried cranberries. They’re delicious, travel-sized, with the right macro proportions.” Breakfast may be the most important meal of the day (Or is it? More on that later), but that doesn’t mean it has to take all day either.

Roger Federer
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Roger Federer

The Guardian reports that Roger Federer likes to enjoy a range of foods for breakfast, including fruit and waffles with raspberry syrup. Matheson lauds this approach, saying “His diet is all about variety, and I would recommend that to the average American.” In short, “Be like Federer and explore a range of foods and cuisines.”

Jessie Diggins
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Jessie Diggins

Bon Appetit Magazine that cross-country skier Jessie Diggins’ breakfast could include anything from berries to oatmeal to yogurt to eggs, and sometimes even pancakes. While most of us don’t need this much food, this variety-based approach is something we can all take to heart (and to our kitchens), according to Matheson, who reminds us, “Repeating the same foods can go stale, causing us to get bored and fall off our healthy eating plan.”

Brandon Marshall
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Brandon Marshall

According to Extra Crispy, NFL receiver Brandon Marshall from the New York Jets, the average day starts with seven egg whites, chicken sausage, Monterey cheese, a glass of OJ, two cups of blueberries, and a cup of cereal. Matheson states, “A typical American male really only needs half of that. I would recommend choosing four egg whites, one link of chicken sausage, and a cup of blueberries.”

Chris Mazdzer
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Chris Mazdzer

Luge star Chris Mazdzer, according to Bon Appetit, likes to start his competition days with scrambled eggs or smoked salmon with a side of avocado. This protein-packed start to the day is optimal for all of us, says Johnson. “Usually, more protein is almost always going to help people with their health and fitness — regardless of their goals. I often recommend having protein early and often to my clients.”

Rashad Jennings
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Rashad Jennings

While some of these breakfasts sound like ones we’d all like to order at our favorite brunch spot, “sometimes boring is best,” according to Johnson. Rashad Jennings of the New York Giants is known for his breakfast protein shakes, sometimes with oatmeal or eggs on the side. Johnson appreciates the simplicity of this approach, saying “Honestly, this is a breakfast that just about anyone could take and run with (and I’m not just saying that because Jennings is a running back). It’s simple, quick, and a great way to start a day for anyone and everyone. Protein shakes are often marketed to athletes, but they’re a great way to supplement our protein intake, which most adults undereat. Not just athletes need protein.”

J.J. Watt
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J.J. Watt

J.J. Watt of the Houston Texans told Extra Crispy that he’s a “huge breakfast guy,” and eats multiple fruits and wheat toast or oatmeal as well as cottage cheese pancakes for his two breakfasts. Johnson joked, “J.J. Watt isn’t a huge breakfast guy, he’s just a huge guy. Hence two breakfasts.” But Johnson said that, in smaller quantities, the foods he goes for would work well for any of our diets. “Fruit, whole grains, and pancakes with the extra protein from cottage cheese are all delicious and nutritious. Front-loading your day with nutrient-dense foods is a great way to make sure you’re getting all the stuff your body needs to keep firing on all cylinders — in the office, with the kids, or walking the dogs,” Johnson says.

Seattle Seahawks
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Seattle Seahawks

We’ve grown up being told that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and maybe it is for professional athletes. Susan Kleiner, a registered dietitian who has worked with the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks, likes for her clients to eat as much as possible in the morning, according to CheatSheet. Johnson doesn’t disagree, but takes slight issue with that approach for everyone, saying “You can start the day with breakfast if you’d like. But if you prefer having a cup of coffee and just starting your day, that’s fine too.” He goes on to say, “The ‘best’ health and fitness routines are the ones that are going to be followed. If you have no appetite or hate eating first thing in the morning, that’s perfectly okay.” Ultimately, says Johnson, “What you eat matters way more than when you eat it. If make your living being athletic, food to fuel that makes sense. But things are a bit different for those of us that sit at a computer for a living.”

Meghan Duggan
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Meghan Duggan

Hockey player Meghan Duggan tells Bon Appetit that she usually keeps to “a few eggs, Greek yogurt, oatmeal, fruit, and lots of coffee” in the morning, along with nut butter spreads for her toast so she can pack in the protein. Johnson agrees with this approach for all of us, saying “Protein is a ‘big deal’ in the world of health and fitness for good reason. It does a slew of good things for anyone trying to be healthy or fit.” He advises for us normal folks, “Even if you’re not trying to look like the dudebros at your local gym, it’s worth getting plenty of protein. It’ll help you feel full, help muscles recover from physical activity (or life in general), and help us maintain lean body mass, which is particularly important as we age.”

Related: The Best Workouts for Staying in Shape Past 50

Drew Brees
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Drew Brees

New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees tells Extra Crispy that his allergies and sensitivities play a role in his eating approach, meaning he avoids dairy and gluten, usually starting his day with a gluten-free pancake or waffle, plus some grits, hash browns, sausage or bacon, and some fruit. Before we all go out and buy gluten-free waffle mix in bulk, Johnson cautions us, “Allergies and sensitivities are key here. He doesn’t do it because it’s healthier, he does it because it’s healthier for him. That’s an important distinction.”

Tom Daley
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Tom Daley

And, if you love something else for breakfast, that is perfectly alright too. Olympic diver Tom Daley, for instance, enjoys beans on toast for breakfast, according to the Guardian. Johnson reiterates, “Different needs and different goals should follow different guidelines.” For Daley and his training needs, that may just be the perfect breakfast.

Virtues of Vegetables and Fruit
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Virtues of Vegetables and Fruit

Almost all the athletes mention enjoying some fruit as part of their breakfast routines. Johnson appreciates that and recommends it to all of us, saying “The great things about things like fruits and veggies is that they’re high-volume foods [ . . . ] While 200 calories are always 200 calories, having 200 calories of high-volume foods will literally take up more space in your stomach, leaving you feeling more full. Plus, most high volume foods aren’t just filling. They’re often packed with nutrients, too.”

Cheetos … Sometimes
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Cheetos … Sometimes

In general, Matheson and Johnson agree that it’s important to keep your own body and needs in mind. Johnson elaborates, “Literally all health and fitness advice depends on the individual that’s applying it [ . . . ] Yes, food quality matters. A lot. But it’s also totally fine to have the foods you want so long as you’re also giving your body the nutrition it needs. In other words, it’s okay to have a bag of Cheetos sometimes. They’re delicious.”

Brandon Marshall
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Keep Things in Proportion

Matheson reminds us that as we’re looking over these breakfasts that “the portion sizes and macro ratios should be adjusted accordingly.” Johnson reminds us that when it comes to any macros that “There’s a time and place for everything. But, it’s a Goldilocks sort of thing. You don’t want too much or too little. You want it to be just right.”