How to Fuel Like an Athlete, From a Lady Who Fuels Athletes for a Living

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When I first decided to pursue a career as a dietitian, this lady had the job I dreamed of.  Amy Goodson is a superstar sports dietitian in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.  She has worked with the Texas Rangers, the TCU football team, FC Dallas Soccer, and the Dallas Cowboys.  If that’s not a sweet looking resume, I don’t know what is. 

She serves as a media dietitian, meaning she’s the lady in front of the cameras when it comes to educating the public on nutrition.  AND she’s a full time dietitian at Ben Hogan Sports Medicine where she works with athletes of all levels.

Oh yeah…she also co-authored a sports nutrition book for triathletes “Swim, Bike, Run—Eat”….no big deal.

Let’s meet Amy! 

Amy Goodson 3{when this is your office, going to work is never a chore}

| Introduce yourself. |

AG: My name is Amy Goodson and I am a sports dietitian in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.  I work with athletes of all types from high school, to college to pro along with everyday worker-outers training for events or just working out.  It is the most fun, yet crazy job I could ask for and I love it.  I am not, nor was I, an athlete (I was a dancer), but I love to workout so I say I am “athletic.” I’m a pretty fun-loving, outgoing, social girl who loves to sit on a patio with my friends, drink red wine (because it is good for me), eat and talk.  Free time is sometimes hard to find, so if I have any…you can bet it is with people I care about!  I love quality time!

| How did you land such a swoon worthy job? |

AG: I am a very blessed girl who has been afforded and offered a lot of opportunity.  Yes, I work hard and have been to tons of school to get me here, but that statement “It’s all about who you know” could not be anymore true!  I have been at the right place at the right time and said yes and here I am. 

I think having the job you dream of starts with saying yes a lot, volunteering, and doing things that you may not think get you anywhere.  They do! 

I am a dietetic preceptor for a few schools and I tell interns, “Get involved, volunteer and say yes!”  Nothing replaces that in this world.  Networking is key to meeting people, learning things and getting offered jobs and opportunities.

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| What does your typical day look like? |

AG: There is no typical day in my life and that is my favorite part!  Because I work in sports, whatever sports are in season dictate what I do during the day.  I could be meeting with young athletes in my office, speaking to a sports team, working at lunch at the Cowboys, writing menus/blogs/articles, doing media, teaching, writing meal plans, etc.  The list goes on and on and each day is a different mix of all those things and more!

| You work crazy hours, how do you find time to keep yourself so healthy? |

AG: You just have to do it!  I wake up at 4:00am every morning to workout, get ready, make my breakfast and commute!  I always have snacks with me, but I could be eating lunch at the Cowboys, could bring it with me, could be eating on-the-go, etc.  So I always have healthy snacks with me in case I miss a meal; it happens sometimes during busy days! 

My motto (as my athletes know) is live by the 80/20 Rule: 80% of the time eat for health and energy and 20% of the time eat for pleasure. 

It’s the easiest way to live where you feel great and eat your chocolate cake too (but for me it would be nutella bread pudding with coffee ice cream at Del Frisco’s Grille…I could care less about chocolate cake!)

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| What’s your go-to snack for athletes who need a quick boost? |

AG: All my athletes joke that my “go-to” anything is peanut butter.  So throw peanut butter on a slice of whole wheat bread, an apple, whole wheat crackers, etc.  But honestly for lots of athletes, it is a protein bar.  They are a good blend of carbohydrates and protein, quick, convenient, don’t have to be hot or cold, and are everywhere in sports.  So many times that is our go-to snack; ideally I choose bars with less ingredients as that typically implies it is less processed. 

| What’s your favorite part about fueling some of the world’s best athletes? |

AG: They are entertaining!  It’s funny because lots of athletes would likely be just as good eating bad as they would eating good because they are genetic abnormalities that are awesome at sports.  Not what every dietitian wants to hear, but it is true. 

However, I love when I get them to understand and see that fueling their body with nutrient-rich foods and paying attention to what they eat helps them have more energy, feel stronger at practice, and recover better. 

When they finally “get it”; that is the best feeling!

| What’s the biggest misconception you’ve found when it comes to diet and training? |

AG: A lot of athletes thing that less is more.  Whether it is less food, cutting out food groups to follow the latest trend or skipping meals and snacks, but in reality it takes fuel to fun a car.  And it takes high quality fuel to make a Ferrari run properly.  Thus helping athletes see why the need certain foods, what they do for their bodies and how they can include them into their diet or eating plan is key to busting through some of those myths.  Many athletes get their information from a friend, their “people” or follow what another athlete does, and the reality is that just because it works for someone, does not mean that it will work for them.

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| What 3 healthy snacks do you always have on hand? |

AG: For me personally, I always, always have a KIND Bar in my purse (KIND Bar + Protein to be exact)!  They are my go-to for myself.  I am likely to have cheese and grapes if I have the luxury of a refrigerator that day and I probably have roasted almonds as I love those too!  Those are staples in my “snack/mini-meal world”.

| What are simple tips that everyone can do to increase their energy and improve their workouts? |

AG: For most people, there are a few simple things that you can do to feel great without too much effort.  So many think being healthy is difficult and takes a lot of time, but these 5 things will help:

1. Eat small frequent meals and snacks over the course of the day to help your blood sugar stay stable over the course of the day while keeping you from being as hungry at the next meal or snack.

2. Get a serving of whole grain/fruit AND a lean protein at every meal and snack. Protein and healthy fat slow down digestion and help you feel full faster and stay full longer.  So carb and protein at each meal and snack and garnish each with healthy fat like hummus, avocado, nuts or nut butters, fatty fish or unsaturated oils.

3. Drink plenty of water and avoid (or at least limit) sugary beverages, as they can add up to lots of calories over the course of the day. On average, take your body weight and divide it in half and drink that in water.  Then of course add in more fluid for exercise, approximately 5-10 oz for every 20 minutes of exercise.

4. Splurge two meals a week. If you want to stick to eating healthy, stay on a plan and keep yourself sane, you have to enjoy foods that may not be deemed “good for you”.  The key is eat what you want (not everything you want), share it with someone and only do it two times (or so a week).

5. Exercise! Move!  Walk!  Do something to get moving.  Exercise will give you energy over the course of the day in addition to help you lose or maintain weight.

Don’t just go to the gym 45 minutes and sit still for the other 23 hours and 15 minutes. 

Exercise, yes, and try to walk and move over the course of the day.  Take the stairs, park at the back of the parking lot, take the long way, etc.  Just move!

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Want more of Amy?
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  1. I found these tips really helpful! I’m not a professional athlete, but I do try to stay active. I’t’s nice to know the rights foods to fuel my body!

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