Now that the training season has come to close for most athletes, it’s time to start planning for next season! You may have your race schedule lined up, set personal goals for yourself and decided on a few things to focus on for the upcoming year. Have you considered hitting the reset button on your diet? Most of us realize we are not eating our best but few realize just how much our poor eating habits negatively affect our health, sports performance and daily life performance. Don’t worry about a complete overhaul; making small tweaks in your diet can lead to big results in your athletic performance. Don’t wait until the New Year to get started, the sooner you start the better you will look and feel! Check out these tips to help you get started!
Experiment with some new foods and recipes
The off season is a great time to try some new ingredients, recipes and even making your own sports bars and drinks. Switching things up may lead you to find a new favorite food that gives you that extra boost! Foods to try: chia seeds, rolled oats, oat flour, kale, swiss chard, different types of fish, pumpkin.
Refill your tank on necessary nutrients that may have been depleted over the season
Over the course of a demanding sports season, many athletes can become depleted in important macronutrients and micronutrients. The most common of these is iron, particularly among females and runners. Studies show that about 50% of runners experience hemolytic anemia or foot strike hemolysis; the breakage of red blood cells in the foot as a result of repeated pounding. This can result in extreme fatigue, poor performance and can lead to more serious conditions if not treated. Get your iron level tested at your next doctor’s visit and stock up on these iron-rich foods:
- Clams & oysters
- Red meat- try beef tenderloin
- Any type of nuts
- Bran flakes
- Dried fruit
Drop some extra mass
It’s no secret that losing some extra body fat will help make you lighter, which translates to a faster you! Muscle produces power; however, fat doesn’t and too much can slow you down. Track your diet for a few days, writing down everything you eat and drink as you go. Then review what you have consumed. You may not be pleasantly surprised but practicing this can help you notice some unhealthy habits you may have. Tackle one of these habits and then move on to the next one once you’ve made progress. For example, if you always reach for a cookie in the middle of the afternoon to help you get over that slump, opt to eat a piece of fruit and yogurt instead one day a week. Once you’ve got that down, aim for that change twice a week and so on. Saving a few extra calories here and there can add up to a big time fat loss over time.
With these easy tips, anyone can make positive progress with their nutrition plan over the off-season. So this year, take some time to devote to making some healthy changes for you. Your body will thank you!