What they ate: Football center Jackson Matteo (left); soccer forward Morgan Reuther (right) Illustration by Jessica Roux

If student-athletes ate like regular college kids—pizza, fries and soft-serve from the dining hall—they’d function, but they wouldn’t perform very well, says Director of Sports Nutrition Randy Bird, who creates and advises diets for about 700 of UVA’s student-athletes.

So, what do student-athletes eat?

Cavaliers football center Jackson Matteo (Col ’16) estimates that he consumes about 3,800 calories throughout the day to power him through nearly four hours of practice and workouts, plus classes and study time. A year ago, Bird developed a personalized diet for the 6-foot-5-inch, 290-pound Matteo, who started all 12 games in 2015, registering 836 offensive plays and snapping the ball on all but one.

Women’s soccer forward Morgan Reuther (Arch ’17)—who was third on the team with nine goals for the 2015 season—manages her own diet. Her team meets with Bird throughout the year to discuss nutrition, and while Reuther says she listens to Bird’s advice, she hasn’t felt that she needs a customized meal plan. She says that she keeps her training schedule—about two hours of practice each day—in mind when choosing and preparing her meals, which add up to between 2,500 and 3,000 calories per day. “It’s important for me to eat properly both before and after training to help me perform my best,” she says.

We asked Matteo and Reuther to track their diets for a day; here’s what they ate.

JACKSON MATTEO
Football center

BREAKFAST
5 eggs
handful spinach
Clif bar

AFTER WORKOUT SNACK
2 protein shakes
sandwich
trail mix
apple
Chobani yogurt
Clif bar

LUNCH
2 chicken breasts
1 cup brown rice
2 handfuls spinach
Chobani yogurt
protein shake

DINNER
2 chicken breasts
1 cup brown rice
2 handfuls spinach
protein shake

POST-DINNER SNACK
2 avocado tuna sandwiches
protein shake

MORGAN REUTHER
Soccer forward

BREAKFAST
4 scrambled egg whites
watermelon

LUNCH
tomato, avocado and onion
salad (mixed greens) with
shrimp and squeezed lime

SNACK
plain popcorn

DINNER
raw tuna sushi
seaweed salad

DESSERT
frozen yogurt
(original tart)

* Diets reported by the athletes