Feel better and go faster with the right nutrition strategy.
The primary goal of your diet as an athlete is to provide the body with the necessary energy and nutrients to support your training and healthy lifestyle. If your body is not well fueled, you won’t meet your performance goals and you may be compromising your health. It’s critical that you embrace an eating style that is nutritionally smart but also sustainable. Consider these five common nutritional concerns to see if your fueling strategy (or lack thereof) is affecting your performance and health goals.
Note that the following information should help you decide if you need to speak to your doctor about current health concerns and/or work with a board-certified sports dietitian to identify the best strategies to meet your energy, health and performance needs.
I have no time to cook
Everyone has heard that you cannot out-train a poorly planned diet, yet far too many athletes put way more time and energy into training compared to healthy eating. Meal planning, grocery shopping and cooking are not nearly as fun as riding your bike for three hours, but it’s counterproductive to be devoted to your training plan but nonchalant about what you eat.
We all know what happens to your mood and food choices when you go into a meal or workout hungry. Considering that your training intensity and volume will increase throughout the season, thus leaving less time and energy for meal prepping, it’s important to find ways to eat healthy even when you think you have no time (or don’t like) to cook.
Some simple guidelines:
– Meal planning is the foundation of a healthy diet. Plan your meals and snacks, grocery shop, then prep. Eating is much easier, healthier and affordable in this order.
– Batch cooking is a game-changer for athletes. Why cook one chicken breast when you can cook five? Instead of making one salad a day for lunch, create a salad bar of ingredients in your fridge and pantry for easy meal prep.
– Consider a meal planning or food delivery service to ensure that healthy eating is not an afterthought.
– Select a theme meal—e.g., meatless Monday, taco Tuesday—each night of the week to make planning and shopping easy.
– Simplify the meal to include at least four healthy components: plants, protein, starch/grain and fat. Whether it’s two slices of bread with scrambled eggs and sautéed spinach and mushrooms, or wild rice with tempeh or beef with sautéed mixed root veggies, you’ve covered the basics.