Food for Thought: Q&A with Garrett Weber-Gale, Founder of AthleticFoodie

BEIJING, CHINA AUGUST 11TH, 2008--USA' Garrett Weber-Gale, left, and Michael Phelps celebrate with Jason Lezak, in the pool, the gold medal in the 4x100 Freestyle Relay at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Photo Courtesy: Wally Skalij

Garrett Weber-Gale. You may identify him with the above photo.

That’s Weber-Gale, celebrating beside Michael Phelps, after having his mind blown by Jason Lezak’s 46.06 split; the fastest 100 free split ever…still. Yes, Weber-Gale was part of the 4×100 free relay at the 2008 Olympics, anchored with a miraculous showing of the power of Lezak’s will to win. The relay which took gold, keeping Michael Phelps’ dreams of achieving a record-breaking eight gold medals in one games alive.

There were many factors which brought Weber-Gale to this moment behind the blocks. Hard work, a hint of talent surely, years of commitment, and what he would consider his X factor…his fuel. Nutrition became a passion of Weber-Gale’s after he was told his blood pressure was dangerously high in 2005. Refusing to relinquish his Olympic dreams, Weber-Gale immediately made substantial changes to his diet.

In 2009, Weber-Gale decided it was time to pass on his acquired nutrition knowledge onto other athletes. He founded AthleticFoodie to inform athletes that proper nutrition will not only leave you feeling better than ever, but it will fuel you to the best performances of you life.

AthleticFoodie has evolved since its beginning days as a blog sharing nutrition content and recipes. The company is now producing healthy snacks and “working with teams across the country to help athletes and parents learn more about sports nutrition, and help their athletes achieve higher performance,” Weber-Gale said.

Nutrition-savvy Weber-Gale recently gave us some words to chew on, and shared his hopes and dreams for AthleticFoodie…

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Photo Courtesy: Garrett Weber-Gale

SW: What was your most startling discovery when doing an overhaul of your own diet?

GWG: I was first amazed by how easy it was to start feeling better once I started making small changes in my diet. Something as easy as carrying a water bottle with me so that I was hydrated throughout the day before and after I trained was a huge deal. I also stopped eating so many highly processed foods– that was a huge deal as well. I never really looked at all the different things that were in many of our food items, but once I was diagnosed with high blood pressure and had to start watching my salt intake, I was shocked by the ingredient lists. It really is the tiny things that you do in your diet, just like in swimming, that really add up to making big changes.

SW: When did the idea for AthleticFoodie spring to mind?

GWG: We started AthleticFoodie in 2009, as a way to start helping athletes learn about sports nutrition, and use it to not only feel better, but improve overall performance. AthleticFoodie began as a blog that published nutrition content, a place where we shared healthy recipes, and put on events with sports teams and schools.

AthleticFoodie snacks became an idea in 2014 after interviewing over 120 athletes and their parents about the things they struggle with, regarding nutrition and performance. It was obvious that the parents didn’t have much time, and were not sure how to best fuel their athletes. The athletes also didn’t know much about nutrition, and it became apparent that we could really help them.

We came up with the concept of shipping snacks, designed specifically for a swimmer’s performance, directly to the swimmer’s doorstep. It has been amazing to hear such positive responses from the athletes and parents around the country who are shipped AthleticFoodie snacks. We knew this would be a way that we could help many athletes achieve better performance, while also making parents’ lives easier.

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Olympian Jessica Hardy feasting on AthleticFoodie energy chews. Photo Courtesy: Jessica Hardy

SW: How were the snacks formulated?

GWG: All of our snacks were designed by a professional sports nutrition team. Each snack was designed for before, during, and after workouts and competitions. We knew these were really critical times for athletes, and also times where parents have no idea what to give their athletes. We used the expertise of nutrition professionals, who focus solely on fueling athletes, in order to ensure each snack would make the biggest impact on the athlete’s performance. A product developer helped us create custom recipes for all of our snacks, so they fit within the framework the nutrition team created. Every snack was tested with athletes for taste and texture, as that is a supremely critical component.

4. Do you hope to expand AthleticFoodie into more than snack foods? What’s the 5-year plan (if it’s not confidential!)?

GWG: AthleticFoodie is a sports performance company with a vision to unlock the mental and physical potential of every athlete in the US. We achieve our vision by providing athletes snacks they love to eat, that also fuel them to perform. In addition to AthleticFoodie snacks, we are partnering with sports teams, and clubs, across the country to further educate athletes and parents about sports nutrition and how they can use it to maximize their performance.

There is really no limit to what we can do, especially because we come from a place of wanting to help people. When that is your ambition, anything is possible.

athletic-foodie-swim-equipment

Photo Courtesy: Garrett Weber-Gale

SW: If a swimmer has a habit of binging on pizza and ice cream, because “they earned it,” what would you tell them?

GWG: I wouldn’t tell them anything, I would ask them what their goals are. Then I would have them choose the one goal that excites them more than any other, and have them make a list of all the things they are going to have to do in order to achieve that goal. This is a super easy way to get a quick picture of the path to achieving a big goal. Sometimes, you may earn some pizza, ice cream, a cookie, or some other treat. The important thing is to have a clear vision of what it is going to take to achieve your goal, and also the things that are not going to help you. All of a sudden, passing up on junk food is easy.

SW: What are three of the most useful nutrition hints you could offer today’s aspiring elite swimmer?

1. Always keep a water bottle with you— during school, practice, when you’re doing homework, and even next to your bed when you sleep. When you’re fully hydrated your mind and body can reach a whole new level of performance.

2. Never skip breakfast. When you wake up in the morning, your body is starving for nourishment. Without breakfast, you cannot fully prepare yourself to perform in workouts, much less in school.

3. It’s the little things you do that make the big changes. Don’t get caught up thinking that having a refined diet, designed for performance, is just a few big things that you do. Just like swimming fast, your diet is made up of many small changes. Whether you change from iceberg lettuce to spinach or kale, from refined grains to whole grains, from processed sugars to natural sugars found in fruits, or choosing more lean and plant proteins, all these small and simple changes add up to making a big impact on how you feel and perform.

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Photo Courtesy: Theresa Martinko

Interested in trying snacks to fuel performance? Visit www.athleticfoodie.com to get a box of AthleticFoodie snacks sent straight to your house. Follow @AthleticFoodie on Twitter and Instagram to hear/see what’s fresh!

2 comments

  1. Cindi Dayton

    reminded of my “famous” poem which GWG actually got a kick out of..lol:
    Swim noses are red
    Hungry swimmers are moody
    Weber-Gayle swims fast
    And owns Athletic Foodie

    • avatar

      Haha. As did I. Well put, Cindi. 🙂