Improvement Season: Nutrition

Even though my season isn’t over yet, I had already begun to mentally transition to improvement season: the time of year when the snow flies and the roads get covered in ice and all you can do is hope to hang on to fitness til Spring. I like to use this time to build new habits or break bad ones so that when a training cycle starts, I just have to focus on the training.

My nutrition has never been a major concern but it’s never been a huge strength either. Although I like food, I’m not a foodie and tend to eat the same foods every day. I also have a couple of food allergies (peanuts and shellfish) that limit me. In the past few years, I’ve started to increase the amount of protein and fat that I eat and focused on quality of carbohydrates rather than quantity. This has helped me not be starving all the time

When I met with Kim Evans earlier this fall, we took a look at my diet based on a week of food logging and she concluded a few things.

  1. I wasn’t eating enough for my level of activity and the pattern of my eating left me in a catabolic (breakdown) predominant pattern rather than anabolic or balanced pattern.
  2. I was eating about 50% carbohydrates which is fine for a normal person, but relatively low for an endurance athlete
  3. My diet didn’t meet my needs for many of the major vitamins and minerals

Kim is an athlete too and was really good about recognizing that the middle of a training cycle isn’t the time to make huge changes to diet. I amped up my calories, tried to eat more carbohydrates and added in some power foods daily (sweet potatoes, mangos, dates and quinoa). Unfortunately, the additional carbohydrates didn’t sit well in my stomach so I had to hold on that after a few disastrous long runs with sprints to a porto-potty. I did go back to my old lunch plan of grain + protein + veggie, which worked out really well.

Now that I can tweak things, here’s my general eating plan for the coming months. It won’t be possible to eat my lunch bowls while I’m on surgery (it’s more grab what you can, when you can), but I am planning on Food Prep Sundays so that at least the rest of my meals can be good.

Breakfast: Coffee + creamer, Baked Oatmeal Protein Bar topped with Sunbutter, piece of fruit (I have been doing a cinnamon raisin bagel with Sunbutter but want more nutrition so am trying out baked oatmeal. Here’s the recipe I’m trying this week. The next improvement is to get rid of the fake creamer in my coffee. Gross, I know.)

Mid-Morning Snack: Almonds + dates + second coffee (Right now, I’m eating Toasted Coconut Almonds but would like to wean myself back to natural or at least just salted.)

Lunch: Grilled chicken sandwich + piece of fruit + Oats & Honey granola bar (Once Surgery is over, I’ll go back to my rice bowls).

Afternoon Snack: Pretzels + string cheese + guacamole (The 100 cal packs fit perfectly in my white coat pocket. I’m the human squirrel in the hospital, I swear).

Dinner: Big Bowl o’ Nutrition! Grain (quinoa, rice, farrow or sweet potato) + protein (tofu, steak, chicken or pork) + bag of steamed veggies (usually broccoli) + sauce (barbecue, teriyaki, buffalo, italian) Once Will is back from Norwalk and I’m done with Surgery, we’ll go back to making more diverse dinners together. I don’t mind eating the same thing every day, but he definitely does!

Supplements: Liquid Ferrous Gluconate (20 mL = 20 mg elemental iron), Women’s Gummi Multivitamin, Vitamin D, Fish Oil, Methyl Factors

What are your go-to meals? Have you worked with a sports dietitian before?

Join the Conversation!