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How Fit Chefs Eat

Five culinary stars who split their time between cooking and training dish on fueling up.

Serious athletes see food as fuel. They need the calories to gear up for a long run or to recover from an intense strength session. Chefs on the other hand, have an entirely different view. For them, cooking — and eating — is about comfort, pleasure and art. But what happens when the two intersect? We tapped five chef-athletes and sommeliers to find out their food philosophy and what they eat before and after a workout:

John Fraser
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John Fraser

Credentials: Chef, Dovetail

Event: Muay Thai

Food philosophy: "Complicated! On one hand, I eat for fuel and am predominately a vegetarian. On the other hand, I serve food (and therefore taste it before serving) that I would consider special occasion dining, so I get my fill of guilty bits. I love vegetables and look forward to the coming seasons like I used to look forward to A Tribe Called Quest coming to town when I was a kid."

Ideal pre-workout meal: Egg whites on toasted wheat bread, water, protein shake.

Ideal post-workout meal: Raw vegetables and hummus.

Marcus Samuelsson
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Marcus Samuelsson

Credentials: Chef/owner of Red Rooster and Ginny's Supper Club; New York Times best-selling author of Yes, Chef

Event: Soccer

Food philosophy: "I’m all about planning it out. I try to eat a vegetarian meal once a week and fish at least twice a week. This isn't just my philosophy when I’m in training; it's how I like to eat all the time."

Ideal pre-workout meal: "I try not to eat too close to my workout, so maybe three hours before I'll have a grilled chicken Cobb salad or jerk chicken. The protein fills me up without making me feel heavy."

Ideal post-workout meal: "I like to wait to eat after a workout, but nothing beats an ice cold Belgian beer with a bit of lemon or lime and a splash of ginger ale."

Eduard Frauneder
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Eduard Frauneder

Credentials: Co-Chef/Owner of Seäsonal, Edi & the Wolf, The Third Man

Event: Kite Surfing

Food philosophy: "Kite surfing is really a total body workout, obviously a great strain on your upper body, but also your core and legs for balance. So, by the time you make it back to the shore, you're definitely ready to refuel. I don't mind overcompensating after a good workout. Just burned all those calories, so why not! I try to hit all the food groups, but definitely both carbs and protein to recharge."

Ideal pre-workout meal: "As a kite surfer, you're at the mercy of the wind, and during peak season should be prepared to pack up and head to the water whenever the time is right. So, I prefer something portable, protein-heavy and something with whole grains to keep me nice and full: quinoa salad with beets and cottage cheese or a nutty freekah salad with goat cheese and baby carrots, spring peas, and asparagus."

Ideal post-workout meal: "After a long session in that salty water, I typically feel three things: exhilarated, exhausted, and really dehydrated! Nothing does it like a cold Radeberger pilsner and a super fresh lobster roll."

Michael Romano
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Michael Romano

Credentials: Chef/Partner and Union Square Hospitality Chief of Culinary Development; Author; The brains behind Creative Juice

Event: Cycling

Food philosophy: "I like to keep it to two meals per day. I recently lost 35 pounds. I'm in the best shape of my life, which I credit to my trainer at Equinox, but it wasn't until I changed my diet that I really started seeing results. I cut back on the things I used to eat all the time like bread, alcohol and sweets. But I never feel like I'm depriving myself."

Ideal pre-workout meal: "I have to have a good breakfast. In the morning I do some kind of grain or cereal, and right now I'm really enjoying almond milk. I try not to have too much dairy."

Ideal post-workout meal: "On the weekends I go out to my house on Long Island and cook fresh fish with vegetables and brown rice. Of course I want it to be delicious, and I usually do a Japanese-style preparation."

Richard Betts
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Richard Betts

Credentials: Sombra Mezcal founder; Master Sommelier; winemaker

Event: Ultra-marathons

Food philosophy: "Eat clean and organic. No red meat, dairy, or eggs. I try to eat four to six times a day and most meals are hearty portions of vegetables and fish. By following this regimen, I am better nourished, better recovered and well-fueled for my next workout."

Ideal pre-workout meal: "Something neutral like a bit of fruit or granola. I don't want to get hungry or worse, bonk, but I also don't want to feel bogged down by a taxed digestive system."

Ideal post workout meal: A water-based whey protein smoothie with banana and almond butter.

Tags: Nutrition