How to eat like an X Games athlete

Getty Images

Getty Images

X Games participants appear perpetually youthful—maybe because so many of them are literal youths. Jagger Eaton became the youngest competitor ever when he made his debut in 2012 at age 11; the youngest medalist is Alana Smith, who took home Women’s Skateboard Park silver in 2013 at age 12.

Their youth makes it seem like X Gamers would eat like typical teens, too—a diet that’s equal parts Pop Rocks, Doritos, and Red Bull. But is that really the case? They’re athletes, and whipping your body through the air like a tornado on wheels probably requires some vitamins and minerals, right?

We asked a handful of the Gamers coming to Minneapolis this year to run us through a dietary day in the life.

Dennis Enarson

27, BMX

“An ideal day, when I’m home and eating what I want, I would definitely start it with a smoothie just packed with a bunch of good stuff,” Dennis Enarson says. The odds are good he’ll spend the whole day out riding, and since it’s tough to down a burrito while you’re on a bike, he crams his blender to the brim: “Like, all-natural—put turmeric in there, ginger, a whole lemon, spinach. I’ll do hemp seeds, milk, almond butter, bananas—the list goes on and on.”

Dennis Enarson

Dennis Enarson Eddie Perlas / ESPN Images

If he has lunch, it’s a “more chill,” smaller meal: a sandwich, fruit and nuts, a salad, something with clean protein. For dinner, he’ll often dine out with friends, but he doesn’t go for fried chicken or the burger, opting instead for a balanced plate of greens and meat, frequently fish. And speaking of fish, the guy drinks like one—not beer, but water. California’s hot, and he’s active. “I stay chuggin’ water.”

The BMX biker wasn’t always this aware of his eating—it used to be 99-cent TV dinners and Totino’s pizza rolls all the way. (“I just drank booze and ate terrible food.”) That changed after an injury, when he turned to anti-inflammatory ingredients like the aforementioned turmeric—plus greens and fruits and fish—to help him heal.

It’s a diet Enarson estimates puts him at about the middle of the pack, health-consciousness-wise. Some BMX riders have their meal plans down to a science and hit the gym every day. “And then there’s people who have never heard what a back roller is, and they’re drinking whiskey Cokes during the contest. There’s every end of it at BMX.”

Tyler Bereman

26, supercross and motocross

For Bereman—and every athlete we spoke with—the biggest obstacle to consistent healthy eating is the amount of travel wrapped up in their jobs.

“I’ve just been on so many airplanes in the last few months, and being in airports and having layovers and trying to find good food is... virtually impossible,” he says. “I try to find hummus and crackers, or some salad or a chicken plate or something that’s not terribly bad for me. At least, I hope.”

He, too, is a reformed garbage eater; as a kid, he would munch on “whatever,” snagging bags of McDonald’s before hitting the track. But the more he started racing, the more he had to eat—and it can’t all be Dollar Menu deals. So he got serious about going for what made his body feel good and avoiding what didn’t. These days, it’s a lot of chicken and fish, with plenty of vegetables. He’s a sucker for sweets, so he always has oranges or berries on hand to scratch that itch.

The occasional Hollywood stuntman hazards a guess that the freestyle motocross community is the least intentional about getting their recommended daily vitamins. “But when it comes to racers, a lot of those guys are on teams and have a specific diet plan and a nutritionist and a trainer and all that stuff. At the top level of racing, those guys are very, very, very conscious of what they eat.”

One thing Bereman is thoughtful about? How much he eats. He keeps his morning meal light—protein smoothie or shake, some oatmeal or some eggs—because, you know, he’s about to go rocketing off dirt ramps and doing backflips on a motorcycle. Turns out, that kind of thing can upset your stomach.

Jordyn Barratt

19, skateboard

Jordyn Barratt struggles with the diet-ruining reality of constant travel, too—but her situation is further complicated by the fact that she’s a vegetarian. “I was just in Spain, and in Spain, and Europe, literally all they have is meat, cheese, and beer,” she laughs. “I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, I guess I’ll have to eat some cheese. I hadn’t eaten cheese in months.”

Barratt’s been a vegetarian since she was around 12; she made a bet with a friend to see if they could give up meat.

“I lasted the longest, and then I was like, ‘I’m just going to keep doing this.’ I feel way better when I don’t eat meat,” she explains. “And, plus, animals are my favorite thing ever. I didn’t really understand how that all worked, and then after, I was like, ‘Okay, I’m definitely never eating meat again.’”

Tyler Bereman

Tyler Bereman

At 19, she’s practically a vegan, except that she eats eggs. It’s a lot of rice and beans, and, as is apparently the case for everyone in extreme sports, she’s never met a smoothie she didn’t like. “I have a blender and I use that every day, for sure.” (As for the smoothie craze, she suggests that it’s probably a California thing.) She’s also a huge fan of acai bowls.

And she adds that being on the go doesn’t always make for disastrous eating. In China, she ordered a sushi-like lotus root dish that’s one of the best dishes she’s ever had.