Energy comes from three sources in the diet – Carbohydrates, Protein, Fat sometimes known as macronutrients or “macros.” But we don’t eat macros – we eat FOOD made of macros. So, what foods do we eat to get the right mix of energy?
Contain carbohydrates to fuel muscles and brain. B vitamins found in whole grains help to metabolize energy. Look for breads, pastas and cereals with the word “whole” listed first on the ingredient label to maximize nutrition and increase fiber.
Your plate should contain ¼ – ½ grains and/or starchy vegetables,
Fruits & Vegetables
Remember variety in color means variety in nutrients. These nutrients help aid in energy metabolism, repair and maintenance of muscles, bones & organs, and help reduce inflammation. Fruits and vegetables also contain fiber, which aids digestion.
Try to buy produce that is in-season, which will be less expensive. Don’t forget about frozen fruits and veggies! They are picked and frozen at the peak of their ripeness, making them a nutritious and affordable option. Canned fruits and vegetables are also a great option look for low or no sodium added vegetables and fruit packed in its own juice.
Your plate should be ¼-½ fruits and vegetables, depending on intensity of training.
Meats & Protein
Protein builds, maintains, and repairs muscles. It can be found in a variety of foods, including meats, fish, milk, cheese, yogurt, eggs, beans, soy, and grains.
Protein is important – but you may not need as must as you think! About ¼ of your plate should be protein – remember, you may also be getting protein from other parts of your plate.
Builds strong bones and teeth, provides high quality protein and carbohydrates, and contains electrolytes to replace those lost through sweat.
Enjoy 3 servings of dairy every day like milk, cheese or yogurt.
At the Store
It is difficult to know what to buy without a plan. Look at your week and plan a menu accordingly. Don’t forget snacks and beverages!
Use what you have
When creating a menu, consider what you already have. This may help keep your grocery bill low and reduce waste.
Make a list
You have a menu and know what you already have – make a shopping list (and stick to it!).
At the store
Try to go to the store after a meal or snack whenever possible. Hunger can cause you to venture from your list and cause you to purchase things you may not need. Foods found around the perimeter of the store often have more nutrients, like produce, meats and dairy. Venture into the aisles as necessary based on your list.
A little prep goes a long way
When you get home, spend a little time prepping fruits and vegetables, meats and even side dishes like rice to make mealtime easier throughout the week.
A place at the table
Remember there are no “good” foods or “bad” foods, but some foods are more nutrient rich than others. Don’t feel like you can’t have a certain food – enjoy it in moderation.
On the Road
Look at your schedule ahead of time. Not sure where you will be able to pick up a healthy lunch or snack? Pack an insulated bag with an ice pack to make sure you have the right fuel at the right time. Try a yogurt parfait, a turkey sandwich on whole grain bread, an apple or banana with nut butter and milk or chocolate milk are great options on the go. No way to keep your food cold? Apples, pears, bananas, nut butter, granola bars, trail mix and shelf stable milk are easy to keep in your bag for a quick snack.
Fueling well while eating out doesn’t have to be difficult. A few small swaps can go a long way. Try choosing baked or grilled options instead of fried or trade fries for a fruit cup, steamed vegetables or a side salad. Ask for whole grain bread instead of white bread and swap out sugary drinks for a milk or chocolate milk. Don’t forget there are no ‘bad’ foods but choosing foods that have more nutrients may have a positive impact on your athletic performance.