Judging by the looks of Daily Burn 365 trainer Gregg Cook, you’d think he’d be eating more than three meals a day, throwing back protein shakes and snacking constantly to maintain his strong, sculpted physique. But Cook is actually a big follower of intermittent fasting, a form of fasting (lasting anywhere from 14 to 36 hours) to help regulate blood sugar and control feelings of hunger.
“I used to always eat between workouts and teaching classes. My hunger levels would be a total roller coaster throughout the day, but since I started extending my fast in the morning, I’ve learned how to better manage my appetite and have been able to maintain muscle mass with a leaner body,” Cook, 46, says.
It’s worth noting, though, that intermittent fasting and exercise only works if you have glycogen (stored carbohydrates) that your body can use. If your body is depleted of glycogen and fat, it starts to break down protein (your muscles’ building blocks), and that’s where you get into bad fasting territory.
“I don’t starve myself. I make sure I’m properly fueled so that my body can recycle damaged proteins efficiently. In intermittent fasting, this is what we call autophagy,” Cook explains.
When it comes to protein, Cook likes to choose grass-fed meat and wild-caught fish. “My wife and I are part of the Park Slope Food Coop, and we actually bought a grass-fed cow from a farm upstate. We like to make some of our meals with the meat from it,” Cook says.
He allows himself an unlimited amount of protein in his meals, but he eats to the point of satisfaction and avoids feeling stuffed. “I like to pair my protein with plenty of vegetables. I like sweet potatoes and yams, which are more filling. I occasionally like to have some white rice, but I really try to limit gluten,” Cook says.
It’s rare for Cook to enjoy a sweet indulgence, but when he does, he likes a flaky chocolate croissant. Curious about Cook’s daily meals? Here’s what the master cycling trainer eats in a day.
What Trainer Gregg Cook Eats in a Day
Breakfast: A small cup of black coffee with lots of heavy cream
As Cook pointed out, he extends his nighttime fast into the morning to help train his body to use glycogen stores from the night before and clean out his system. To keep his body from breaking down protein in his muscles for fuel, Cook enjoys a cup of coffee in the morning with heavy cream. “It gives me a quick hit of fat, so my body doesn’t go for the protein that’s essential to building muscle mass,” Cook says. Cook restricts grains as much as he can, but he sometimes enjoys a bowl of oats post-workout.
Lunch: Grilled fish, roasted veggies and a green salad
Cook usually has his first meal of the day around 11 am or noon, after teaching his morning classes at the gym or on set at Daily Burn 365. Although he is conscientious about properly refueling, he isn’t strict about measuring his food. “I don’t count macros or weigh my food. I just really don’t have time for that, but I make sure I get enough protein in my diet with salmon and other wild-caught fish,” Cook says. “I also eat a lot of vegetables with each meal; they offer filling fiber and help satiate my hunger. They also give me those essential micronutrients.”
Dinner: Grilled steak strips with roasted sweet potatoes and a green salad
Aside from his love for fitness, Cook is actually a passionate cook (Coincidence? We think not!). He enjoys preparing meals with his wife during the week and meal preps on weekends. “We have an eight-year-old daughter, so it’s hard for us to go out to dinner,” Cook says. But since the trainer is focused on eating clean, preparing homemade meals gives him complete control over the ingredients. “Factory meat is often less nutritious and has more omega-6 fatty acids than grass-fed meat,” Cook says. (The average American diet often has more omega-6 fatty acids and less omega-3 fatty acids, the heart-healthy fats.) Cook will often round out dinner with a serving of roasted sweet potatoes, a nutritious source of complex carbs, to give him the energy he needs to extend his nighttime fast through the next morning. After all, with Cook you know another non-stop day awaits.
If you’re interested in intermittent fasting, consult with your doctor first about making any changes to your diet. While some people like Cook have benefitted from intermittent fasting, it isn’t for everyone. Before you try any fasting diet, here are six key questions to ask yourself.
Want to work out with Gregg Cook right at home? Head to DailyBurn.com/365 for your free 30-day trial.