I get asked all the time about what I eat, what I don't eat, and why. Nutrition is a HUGE factor for athletes. If you think you can put in all the work on the track and eat whatever you want, you'll never know what your true capabilities are athletically because you're not getting the most out of yourself and your training. That being said, I know I'm not perfect with my own nutrition, and I'm honestly not trying to be perfect 100% of the time. Putting that kind of pressure on yourself leads to burnout and binging by the end of the season. I allow myself treats when I need them- it keeps me happy, and happy runners run faster!
I try to cook most of my own food because that helps me know exactly what I am putting into my body. I avoid overly-processed ingredients and focus on a variety of whole foods. I studied nutrition in college so I understand I might be a little more obsessed with food than the average person, but it's exciting to see how many people consider themselves "foodies" these days and put nutrition near the top of their priority list. If you're not as comfortable in the kitchen, I encourage you to jump in and give it a try! In my experience, food that you prepared yourself just tastes better. Plus, if you're on a budget it will probably save you some bucks.
Here are a few of my personal guidelines about food that might help you on your own path to nutritional bliss:
Don’t be afraid of fats! 😯
The “low-fat” craze is...crazy! Reduced fat = Increased sugar
Fats keep us satiated for longer and can be used as slow-burning fuel
Read the labels 🤓
Or better yet, buy foods that don’t HAVE labels! :)
Look for added sugars
Huge long list of ingredients means it is over processed, pass it up
If you eat the right foods, you can eat as much as you like!
When you fill your plate with wholesome food, eat until you are satisfied
Allowing yourself smaller portions of cheat foods leaves you hungry later
Going back to the fridge later that night for a snack
Variety is key 🍎 🍊 🍇 🍑 🍒 🍆 🌽 🍋 🍓 🍏 🍐 🍉
Don’t get stuck on one “superfood” that makes up the majority of your diet
Different colors indicate different nutrients and can eliminate the need for supplements
Treat yoself! Happy people☺️ = fast runners 🏃🏼 💨
Every now and again, all you want is a little chocolate and that is OKAY
Depriving yourself of all treats the entire season will drive you crazy
Other Sources. Here are some of my favorites for nutrition advice and recipes.
Elyse Kopecky: chef, nutrition coach, co-author of NYT best-selling author of Run Fast Eat Slow
“Outside of training the single greatest thing an athlete can do to improve their performance (and their long-term health and happiness) is to learn to cook.” -Elyse