Hello and happy New Year! We are back to normal blogging now that the holidays are over. :)
For many people, the start of a brand new year is so refreshing - it is a time to sort of "start over" and work on optimizing health and eating healthier and signing up for new races and setting some training goals. It's a great time to work on habits that set up our nutritional base so we can put more into our workouts/runs, feel better, build muscle, and optimize our overall health and wellness.
Instead of setting one giant goal to "eat better" or "meal prep every meal of every day for the next year", setting smaller goals that focus on being a better runner helps you stay focused and also keeps you motivated because you have a WHY..."I'm going to work on these nutrition goals that will help me me put more into my workouts and meet my running goals!"
Here are some nutrition-related goals we could probably all be working on to make us healthier, more energized, stronger runners in 2018!
A.) Build a better breakfast. Many runners know that breakfast is important, but may be skipping breakfast or not putting enough effort into building a breakfast that is going to help them fuel up for the day, refuel and repair their muscles after a morning run, and provide the nutrients they need to stay strong over an entire training cycle.
A healthy breakfast contains multiple food groups - carbohydrates (fruit, vegetable, whole grain), protein (eggs, dairy such as Greek yogurt, cottage cheese , or milk, meat, fish, beans,...) and healthy fats (avocado, olive oil, butter, nuts, peanut butter, almond butter, etc.). Think about your usual breakfasts - could you add a food group?
One example is peanut butter toast. One piece of toast with a tablespoon of peanut butter is a carb and a healthy fat, but could probably use a boost of protein (Greek yogurt or eggs on the side) and maybe even a piece of fruit to round it all out and make it more satisfying.
If you're eating breakfast after a morning run, definitely don't skimp on this meal! Runners who don't provide their body with the nutrition it needs post-run are doing themselves a disservice by not refueling their carbohydrate stores or providing their bodies with muscle building and repairing protein.
B.) Add more color to your plate. Even if you're not a big vegetable eater, you probably know they're important for you. Right? Eating a wide variety of fruits and vegetables is like taking an awesome multivitamin every day. Different colors of those foods means you're providing your body with different nutrients, so make it a goal to add some color to every plate.
Fruits and vegetables can be fresh, frozen, cooked, canned, and anything is better than nothing, meaning if you really only like a couple vegetables or fruits, try to add those into your meals daily! If you're not big on eating big salads or a piece of fruit at meals, try adding them into your snacks - carrots and hummus, apple with peanut butter, grapes and string cheese, cherry tomatoes and cheddar...find what you like and add them in at snacks to hold you over between meals.
Maybe you're already a big fruit/vegetable eater? Try adding an antioxidant punch to your day by eating berries daily. Specifically, tart cherries and tart cherry juice are known to provide antiinflammatory and antioxidant benefits, so boosting your intake of those dark berries and tart cherries may promote recovery and reduce soreness.
C.) Switch things up this year! So many runners I talk to are in a diet rut. - they eat the same meal prep foods day after day. While this is probably not bad for your health (other than what we talked about above - eating a variety of different foods within the food groups gives your body different nutrients, which is a good thing!), runners can get burnt out on eating the same foods. As a former eat-the-same-thing-every-day-runner (and someone who still eats a salad with different toppings for almost every lunch because it's just TOO easy), I've found that getting excited about a new cookbook (or website with lots of good recipes) can diversify our diets, get us excited about nutrition and food and exploring new ingredients.
If you haven't gotten it already, the Run Fast Eat Slow Cookbook has a ton of great recipes for runners that are sure to shake up your diet this year. Bake some muffins to eat before your long run, or try out a new salad recipe that doesn't involve plopping grilled chicken on top of spinach (I'm pointing a finger at myself right now...).
Runner's World has compiled quite a few of their yummy recipes, so check it out right now to try something new this week.
I also am attaching my favorite meal prep/grocery shopping organizer for you to try out. When I need to get organized, I'll write in meals on the left (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner and a couple snacks to have during the week), and get the ingredients I need for them on the right. Enjoy!