This is part of Athlete Daily’s weekly series highlighting high-level athletes across the world of strength training and functional fitness, and how they approach diet and nutrition.
Learn what some of the best athletes in the world eat, how they fuel themselves and lessons learned along the way.
Andrew Rape was overweight and painfully shy the first 18 years of his life. So, when he decided he “wanted a girlfriend” Rape knew he had to start working out. So he did, running at first before finding CrossFit-styled training in 2008.
Fast forward a few years and Rape isn’t just in shape: he’s a National Pro Grid League athlete that boasts a 410 lb. clean, 525 lb. back squat, 415 lb. overhead squat and 265 lb. press. The owner of CrossFit Trussville, Rape is a member of of the NPGL’s New York Rhinos team and has a refreshing perspective on nutrition and cheat meals.
Athlete Daily: What’s your general approach to nutrition? Macros, Zone, Paleo, etc.
Rape: “I personally have tried everything. My approach is that everyone is different. I did Paleo for a while, and then realized that wasn’t the thing for me, and then jumped into Zone, and that was good for a while.
[I] eventually did Paleo/Zone and, as I got more competitive and did more volume, the needs and demands [of my body] changed. I’m still changing a lot of things now—I don’t really stick to a particular thing. I do try to get a lot of high-quality foods.”
Rape: “I definitely cheat. I would say Saturdays are my cheat day.
If I’m going to cheat, then I really cheat, but if I get to the end of the week and I didn’t feel the need to [cheat], I just continue on and then wait until the next Saturday.”
Athlete Daily: What does this epic cheat day look like?
Rape: “There’s no constraints [laughs]. Sometimes I almost eat so bad that I don’t look forward to it until I get to the end of the next week.
I’m not going to have one pop tart and that’s it. I’m going to go all out. I remember one specific time—me and my wife—we each got our own specific pizzas, then [we ate] an entire box of Oreos, and then we had ice cream after that. Oh and I also ate a box of Pinwheels, which are basically [like] a S’mores cookie. But I go all out. We go until we can’t go anymore.”
Athlete Daily: So you plan for every Saturday to be a cheat? Do you do that as more a mental thing? Eat quality foods throughout the week and then let yourself indulge one day.
Rape: “Yes, probably a little bit of both. [Say] it’s Wednesday and you want something, you’re really craving it, and instead of going to the store and buying it, I’ve learned—and I’ve done fitness competitively since 2008 and I used to be so focused on doing everything correctly—you kind of just drive yourself into the dirt.
You lose interest. And so that feeds into where I don’t feel like I’m punishing myself. If you say you’re never going to [cheat], then typically, what I found out, for me, is I fall off the wagon [to the point where] I’m not even dieting anymore. I’m just eating whatever I want. So the [cheat day] gives me a guideline to follow.
It’s a mental checklist. Let’s say it’s S’mores or something else delicious that I haven’t had in a while. I will literally make a mental note or write it down in my phone as this is what we’re going to get.
Athlete Daily: When did the idea of having a cheat meal come about?
Rape: “I’ve been doing this (CrossFit) for 8 years, and made more mistakes then-well not mistakes just learning things that don’t work for myself.
I did Zone not super religiously, but I followed the blocks. And with macros I followed numbers and did all the math and then one day you wake up and think, ‘My gosh, I’m going to take a day off from this’. And a few weeks later, and then a month later, six months later you still haven’t eaten on that diet again.
[I didn’t want to get] to that point where instead you just fall off the horse. That’s what I think about, that’s what having one cheat day does for me—’Just do this for a week and then on Saturday if you want [to cheat, cheat], but you don’t have to’. Just a learning process, no specific time of when I started to add in a cheat day, but just over the years.”
Athlete Daily: Did you always follow this sort of relaxed approach after moving from the Paleo/Zone trend?
Rape: “I used to monitor my macros pretty religiously, and follow my numbers to a T. Then it got to a point where I knew exactly what I should be eating that day and even got to the point where I was supposed to be eating 4500 calories a day.
Macro-wise, I felt like I was eating so dense, that it was a lot of poor foods that didn’t have very many micronutrients-just to get the macros. Like ice cream—at the end of the day I would realize, ‘Holy cow I’m behind by this many carbs or fat, I have to eat something like ice cream’.
I got to the point where I was lost in ‘I’m just devouring so much food’ that I had to tailor it back a bit and focus more on quality food.”
Athlete Daily: So during the week what are some staples in your diet?
Rape: I can basically eat one thing for each of my meals and be happy, my wife hates it. She’ll say ‘I’m sick to chicken and rice”, where I can eat chicken and rice for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. [laughs]
The majority of my meals I either eat chicken, shrimp, or steak. And then for my carbs, the majority of the time it’s white rice.
Nothing with grains, I cant remember the last time I ate pasta. We definitely kill sweet potatoes and white rice.
What I Eat in a Day: Andrew Rape
Wake up — 7:30-8:00am
Breakfast (8:30am) —4-5 eggs with ½-¾ cup white rice. Sometimes I’ll do half egg whites.
AM Training session #1 (something just to get my heart rate up)
Meal 2 (11:00-11:30ish) — I’ll have either chicken, a lean meat, or shrimp with a either white rice or sweet potatoes. I’ll eat a meal like this every 2, 2.5 hours throughout the day.
And once a day I’ll drink a green smoothie consisting of three big handfuls of spinach, a banana, and 4-5 strawberries blended with ½ cup of water. Helps me get my micronutrients in.
Meal 3 (around 2:00pm) — Same thing as the last meal, some kind of lean protein and a basic carb, usually white rice.
Coach classes at CrossFit Trussville 3:00-5:00pm
Training Session #2 — 5:00-7:00pm
Before or after my training, I’ll drink some Gatorade powder mixed in water and Vesl Recover Protein.
Meal 4— shrimp or chicken with white rice
Athlete Daily Nutrition Series
Week 1 — CrossFit Games athlete Emily Bridgers
Week 2 — CrossFit athlete Christian Lucero
Week 3 — CrossFit Games Masters athlete Cheryl Brost
Week 4 — Rio competitor, Olympic Weightlifter Morgan King
Week 5 — Human Improvement Project’s Gabe Subry
Week 6 — GRID, weightlifter and CrossFit athlete Marco Coppola
Week 7 — CrossFit athlete Lindy Barber
Week 8 — GRID and CrossFit athlete Jamie Hagiya
Photos courtesy of the National Pro GRID League