Found on USATriathlon.org and written by Marni Sumbal
Sitting down for a home-cooked meal is not an everyday occurrence for many people in our society for a variety of reasons, such as being tired and hungry, wanting food fast, feeling too busy or not liking to cook. For athletes, who already have so much to squeeze into the day, it’s easy to see why dinner may be an afterthought. But, that is no excuse. You have to prioritize dinner.
Here are five tips to ensure you can enjoy a dinner meal even as a super busy athlete.
It’s time to fuel smarter, eat healthier, maintain a healthy body composition and boost your fitness. There are no rules or guidelines as to when to eat or even exactly what to eat, and there are no bad foods to avoid or even a list of clean foods to eat.
1. Prepare meals on the weekend and always plan for leftovers. A little meal prep goes a long way. Dice, chop, wash, cook — do as much as you can when you have the time so you at least have options for a upcoming meal.
2. Prep a meal before a workout. You don’t want to finish your workout hungry with no patience to meal prep. Prepare as much as you can before working out.
3. Have a menu for the week. Knowing what you will eat for dinner will ensure you have those items for dinner. No need to make this menu extravagant, just make a plan. As far as I know, athletes love having a plan to follow.
4. Allow yourself one night a week to get a little help from a pre-made meal. Rather than dining out (which takes time to wait for food, eat and pay and travel to and from the restaurant), order out or pick up food and then use your extra time after dinner to prep a meal for the next day.
5. Don’t wait until you’re hungry. Think about your day when you are home and find 10 to 30 minutes in the morning, when you get home from work or in the evening that you can do some cooking. Oftentimes, the cooking and meal prep is an afterthought and athletes get busy doing something else — and then when it is time to eat/cook, hunger is too great that the athlete needs something quick and easy.
As an athlete, food should be high on your to-do list. This means eating, cooking and planning. There’s no need to be obsessed and there is nothing wrong with the occasional off day of eating food prepared outside of the home. Above all, you should love to eat as it is the best way to keep your body in good health and boost your fitness — and who doesn’t want both of those?
You know how important consistency is with training and the results you get when you can stick to your training plan. Put a similar amount of passion, effort and enthusiasm into your daily diet (and fueling regime) so that you can feel what it is like to properly fuel and nourish your body in motion.