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How to Eat (and Drink) Like a Professional Athlete, According to an Athletitian

Briana Butler wants you to live your best life – one delicious meal at a time. The Pro Sports Nutritionist and former WNBA player has parlayed a lifelong passion for food and fitness into a satisfying career, helping hundreds of people embrace better, healthier ways to eat and live. “There’s no ‘one size fits all’ when it comes to nutrition,” Briana says. “Everyone has their own journey. I’m like a relationship counsellor, but I deal exclusively with people’s relationship to food and fitness, helping them build goals and then exceed them.”

Briana maintains the popular nutrition website The Athletitian while acting as co-owner and founder of performance meal preparation company Power Portions, all while masterfully balancing the demands of work with a robust home life. She lives in Phoenix, Arizona with her husband, former NFL wide receiver Brice Butler, and their son/pride and joy, Braiden. “Sure, I’ve got a lot on my plate,” she laughs, “but it’s okay to have a full plate – just as long as it’s full of things that are truly nourishing and healthy.”

If you’re looking for a little nutritional wisdom, Briana is officially here for you. Read on for some of her pro tips for powering through the day, upping your fitness game and reaching all your athletic goals. And be sure to follow her on

Drink milk with breakfast

My morning ritual is super-easy and super-delicious: I reach for a glass of milk. Hear me out on this one. Milk has fueled athletes for centuries, delivering a powerful combination of 13 nutrients that aid muscle repair, rehydration and replenishment, while also helping to build strong bones and support immune health. So, you’ll understand why milk is the original sports drink in my household. A nutrient-dense powerhouse, milk is the perfect way for me to jumpstart my day, every day! Go ahead and see how you feel after a few weeks of adding milk into your breakfast. Whether that’s having a glass of milk with breakfast, adding it to your morning smoothie or eating milk and cereal, all will help you get the nutrients you need to get moving.

One of the many reasons I choose to drink milk in the early hours is that it helps me power up and hydrate before my morning workout and active day – let’s face it, I barely have time to sit down. It was previously believed that milk delivered nine essential nutrients, but new data shows that milk actually offers thirteen essential nutrients that can help fuel athletes and fitness enthusiasts of all ages (and yes, I make sure Brice and Braiden get their milk fix every morning, too). I recommend incorporating milk into your diet – especially on days when you plan to workout, since it provides your body with plenty of nutrients that can help fuel not only your day, but also your workout.

Have an afternoon smoothie

When you’re super-busy, it’s all too easy to let healthfulness go out the window… but you can do something about it! Smoothies are a convenient way to get important nutrients you need while you’re on the go, and they’re so, so simple to make. I love smoothies because you have so many options when it comes to ingredients… there’s no way to ever get tired of them. They’re perfect after a workout or in between meals, and they make an ideal anytime snack. When I want to appease my sweet tooth, I whip up my famous banana-berry cream smoothie, which is packed with healthy fruits, chia seeds and a full cup of milk to ensure I’m getting high-quality protein.

Supercharge your post-workout recovery

Not to sound like a broken record here, but milk is also an incredible drink post-workout too! Research shows it serves even greater dividends when consumed within one hour AFTER a workout, especially if you happen to be short on recovery time. After a grueling workout, milk can help repair, rehydrate and replenish your muscles and body because its high-quality protein (both whey and casein) and all essential amino acids. Milk delivers a powerful combination of natural nutrients, making it an easy choice when it comes to recovery. Also, it naturally contains electrolytes, providing many of the same electrolytes that can be found in commercial recovery drinks, including calcium, potassium, sodium and magnesium, plus plenty of fluid to help you rehydrate. In fact, some research suggests that milk can help you stay more hydrated after exercise than formulated sports drinks, and even water1-3.

Get daily, essential nutrients

At the end of the day, it’s important to eat a balanced and nutritious diet. Whether you’re prepping to begin your day or recovering post-workout, getting essential nutrients to fuel your body is key – and milk is my favorite, secret ingredient to do so. Cheers to that!

  • 1Seery S, Jakeman P. A metered intake of milk following exercise and thermal dehydration restores whole-body net fluid balance better than a carbohydrate–electrolyte solution or water in healthy young men. British Journal of Nutrition. 2016; 1-9. 2Maughan RJ, Watson P, Cordery PA, Walsh NP, Oliver SJ, Dolci A, Rodriguez-Sanchez N, Stuart DR. A randomized trial to assess the potential of different beverages to affect hydration status: development of a beverage hydration index.American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2015;103:1-7. 3Martin BR, Davis S, Campbell WW, Weaver CM. Exercise and calcium supplementation: effects on calcium homeostasis in sports women.Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. 2007; 39:1481-1486.5

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