Being an athlete isn’t just about training, it’s about recovery, sleep and nutrition. Nutrition – much like sleep and recovery – is an element of health that is diffcult to control. It is often influenced by external factors like school, work, social life and even the weather. However, nutrition plays a crucial part in our general health and athletic performance.
Given its importance, it should be a priority among athletes, families of aspiring athletes, coaches and health professionals. One of the easiest ways to reduce the impact of external factors on our nutrition is to meal prep. Meal prepping is involves a bit of planning, however, with a majority of the week’s meals already made, the stresses of life won’t derail the healthy meals already planned.
So how do we start meal prepping? Here are five tips to get started.
List what recipes or meals you want to eat.Most often meal planning is for lunch, but if the week is busy with practices or other commitments you can just as easily do this for dinner. Before the beginning of the week, compile a list of what ingredients you have and what you need.
Shop in bulk.Like is busy, especially if you’re a parent to a young athlete or managing numerous commitments with work and sport. The easiest thing you can do for yourself is to shop in bulk. Get the ingredients you need and make sure you are well stocked so you can reduce the number of trips you do.
Make use of the extra time on the weekends.Wherever you get a bit of extra time to plan and cook, use it to stock up a few meals for the week.
Add variety to what you eat.It may be easy to just cook one type of lunch for the rest of the week, but try to add some variety to the recipes you cook. As a general rule, look to divide your meals with the following distribution;
- ¼-⅓ protein – In both Canada’s and America’s food guidelines, more of an emphasis is being put on plant-based alternatives such as beans, tofu and lentils, compared to red meats that are associated with increased health risks of cardiovascular diseases, obesity and type 2 diabetes.
- ¼ carbs – Carbohydrates are important for training. If the training demand is high, don’t be afraid to increase the proportion of carbs on your plate.
- ¼-½ vegetables – Vegetables are essential. Even if you throw together a side salad, that is important.