Nutrition is key
Making the right food choices can seem like a daunting task for the majority of people, which often leads to overcomplication and ends in poor nutrition.
As an athlete we have multiple areas of nutritional focus but the main two are performance and recovery. We need to ensure that we are fuelling ourselves to enable us to perform at our best, whilst ensuring that we recover fully between training sessions and competition. Good nutrition and habits come from following the basics consistently. Consistency is key and will lead to long-term changes.
A big part of good nutritional habits is knowing what food to choose when you are on the go or you forget to #mealprep. It happens to us all but having guidelines to follow or an action plan in place is what will help us stay consistent.
Here are some general guidelines to follow
First and foremost choose a lean protein source as this will help keep us fuller for longer, whilst providing those much-needed building blocks to help repair and maintain muscle tissue. This could be greek yogurt, a protein bar or shake, eggs, milk, meat, fish, tofu, beef jerky etc.
Secondly, if it is the main meal time (breakfast/lunch/dinner) choose a vegetable or fruit source. There are many options in supermarkets and even petrol stations. It could be something simple like a punnet of fresh berries, fruit salad or melon slices. Moreover, there are plenty of pre-packed ready to eat vegetable options such as fresh salad, carrot sticks etc. This will provide us with micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) contributing to overall health and immune function.
When to eat before training?
After this, we want to choose our fat and carbohydrates. If we are undertaking a particularly high volume training day or training phase then we want to consume more carbohydrates to ‘Fuel’ our training. The closer we get to a training session such as the one to two hours prior, the more we want faster digesting carbohydrate sources such as rice cakes, cereal bars etc. Eating oats an hour before an intense training session isn’t always a good idea unless you want to meet pukie the clown mid-session. How close to training you can eat without feeling sick will differ from person to person so is something each person should experiment with.
Fats are essential for hormone production and immune health so getting some healthy essential fats in each day is always a good idea. This could be from avocado, olive oil, olives, nuts, and oily fish.
Below is an example of an “On the Go” day for somebody who hasn’t meal prepped but still wants to make good choices. All the foods below, apart from the evening meal, can be bought and eaten right out of the pack with no cooking needed whatsoever, whilst still helping achieve our performance goals. The evening meal can be made using simply a microwave. So again minimal cooking, no hassle; yet still helping to reach our goals.
Low-fat Greek/Icelandic yogurt (higher in protein) with fresh berries
Pre-cooked chicken breast
Rice cakes/Cereal bar
A pint of milk/protein shake
Leafy greens (spinach, kale etc)
Low fat cottage cheese/quark/yoghurt/casein protein shake