Even if you don’t consider yourself an athlete, we believe there is an inner athlete in all of us. We all may have to dig a little deeper at times but that athlete is there. So get outside and do something you love! Explore. And do it on a daily basis. Life is too short to not to.
We are advocates of a Whole Food Plant Based (WFPB) diet for many reasons, but one is because it increases your quality of life from the inside out. We believe this lifestyle is best for optimal health and overall wellness and can help you and your loved ones avoid major preventable diseases. The cool thing is that it’s good for the animals and environment too.
- Make sure you eat enough.
Many athletes and people in general fail on a WFPB diet because they fail to eat enough total calories. Whole plant foods in general are low in calories (except for things like nuts, seeds, avocados, coconut), but that’s the beauty of it all. We absolutely love food! We would rather be able to fill our stomachs full of lots of good food rather than only a little. People transitioning from a SAD (Standard American Diet) to a WFPB diet may not realize that they need to eat more food to get enough calories for their sport. Food=Fuel.
While we don’t recommend counting calories, we do recommend being mindful of how much (or little) you are eating, where the food came from and if it’s nutritious or not. Make sure to take time while you’re eating to not only fully chew your food, but to also allow yourself to be thankful you have a wonderful meal in front of you. This will not only help you slow down and actually enjoy what you’re eating, but will help your brain access how hungry you truly are.
2. Make sure you eat QUALITY.
I’m talking nutrient density here. Whole foods such as fruits and vegetables, whole grain complex carbohydrates (oatmeal, buckwheat, brown or wild rice, quinoa, amaranth, millet, teff, popcorn, sweet potatoes, squash and other tuber vegetables), beans, lentils, chickpeas, peas, nuts (also nut butters) and seeds (chia, hemp, sesame, pumpkin) are all packed full of high quality nutrients that your body craves as an athlete.
These types of foods also give your body natural energy, reduce cravings, keep your immune system running well and help your body to recover faster by reducing inflammation. Do you see a pattern here? Pretty much any food that grows from the ground or a plant is considered quality. You can’t go wrong with whole foods. And that means eliminating anything refined and processed.
3. Eat often and eat the rainbow (and we’re not talking skittles here).
We recommend eating every 3-4 hours to help keep your blood sugar stable and your metabolism running high. This will also curb cravings and help you to not gorge yourself at dinner. Eating consistently throughout the day will leave you a happier, healthier person. We recommend eating bigger meals early on to make sure you’re giving your body the fuel it needs. Also aim to eat a variety of colors each day of fruit and vegetables. This ensures that you’re getting an array of disease fighting phytonutrients and antioxidants to keep your immune system running strong. Mix it up and have some fun. And don’t forget about fresh herbs and spices!
One thing that Damian and I do with some of our favorite meals it to constantly change the recipe and see what new ingredients we can add to a dish. Or just try a new fruit or vegetable each week. This helps keep food from getting boring, but also helps you get those 4-5 servings of fruits and vegetables each day.
4. Always have a plan and extra food on hand.
Stuff happens and you always need to be ready. That’s pretty much the life of an athlete right? We always need to expect things to go wrong and have a backup plan of what to do next in order to succeed. The same rule applies to food. If we’re going somewhere, we always bring lunch, some extra snacks and water in case we end up being there longer than expected. This not only helps you stay on track with healthy eating, but also minimizes excuses…. “well, I was hungry and the donut was right there….” Besides, who knows how long that hike you’re on will last. We always tend to be out in nature longer than expected because the “majesticness” of it all sucks you in. Check out our recipe for energy bites if you happen to be out longer than expected too.