Meal Prep For the Busy Ath­lete

Triathlon Magazine Canada - - DEPARTMENTS - BY PIP TAY­LOR Pip Tay­lor is a pro triath­lete and nu­tri­tion­ist from Aus­tralia.

Don’t treat nutri­tion as an af­ter­thought – its role in per­for­mance (and health) is just as crit­i­cal as train­ing and re­cov­ery.

When it comes to eat­ing well for health and per­for­mance, a bit of for­ward plan­ning and prep is crit­i­cal. How one goes about this might vary from in­di­vid­ual to in­di­vid­ual, or even from house­hold to house­hold. A good plan will al­low you to suc­cess­fully stick to op­ti­mal nutri­tion goals and max­i­mize train­ing and per­for­mance goals. And, while it may seem that with train­ing, work, fam­ily and other so­cial com­mit­ments, we are all get­ting busier – there are many smart short­cuts that can be taken to ease the bur­den of meal prep.

WHY MEAL PLAN OR PREP Plan­ning means you are ra­tio­nally choos­ing what, and when, you are go­ing to eat to fuel and re­cover well over a day or week. This is in con­trast to wait­ing un­til you are hun­gry and tired, when willpower is low and im­me­di­ate hunger is the driv­ing force, mak­ing it hard to stick to goals. Know­ing in ad­vance what you are go­ing to eat also re­moves the men­tal en­ergy that can come with de­cid­ing what to cook, what in­gre­di­ents are re­quired and where to shop each and ev­ery time.

Meal prep and plan­ning can save you a lot of time and en­ergy, whether you are prep­ping a stack of meals in one sit­ting, sim­ply stock­ing the fridge and cup­board with the ba­sics, or mak­ing sure there are al­ways left­overs as a standby. Do­ing a big shop less fre­quently saves the time of run­ning to the gro­cery store ev­ery time you need to eat. It also re­duces the chances you will turn to con­ve­nient, yet less than ideal (and of­ten more ex­pen­sive) food choices. Also, if you choose to do a big cook, and pre­pare mul­ti­ple meals at once, you will save ad­di­tional time through­out the week – time that can be bet­ter spent on re­cov­ery, en­joy­ing your fam­ily or squeez­ing in an ex­tra train­ing ses­sion.


Shop Of­ten when speak­ing with ath­letes, cook­ing or kitchen skills are not the main bar­rier when it comes to eat­ing well – or­ga­ni­za­tion and shop­ping are by far the big­gest hur­dle. Take ad­van­tage of buy­ing in bulk and home de­liv­ery ser­vices.

Stock Keep a stocked pantry and fridge. En­sure sta­ples such as rice, whole grains and oats, legumes, cook­ing oils, eggs, cheese, fruits and veg­eta­bles are al­ways at hand.

Be smart Make use of pre-washed and chopped veg­eta­bles and salad mixes, and freeze in­di­vid­ual por­tions of fish or chicken. Make ex­tra serv­ings of din­ner, which can be eaten as left­overs. When you have ex­tra time, make use of it. For some peo­ple, week­ends can be a time where they get a bit of ex­tra time to shop, cook and pre­pare for the week ahead.

Keep it sim­ple Stick to the ba­sics, while not skimp­ing on nutri­tion. Some qual­ity carbs, pro­teins, veg­eta­bles and fruits should be the ba­sis of all meals. A few herbs and spices go a long way to keep things in­ter­est­ing.

Cook slow A slow cooker can make meal prep a breeze, plus the slow-cooked dishes usu­ally freeze re­ally well for later on in the week. Put some­thing on to cook and get on with do­ing other things, like cook­ing an­other meal.

Share the load If you live with oth­ers, try to share the load – shop­ping, cook­ing, wash­ing up – even the small­est fam­ily mem­bers can con­trib­ute to meal time in some way. Di­vide and con­quer.

Ex­per­i­ment and have fun

Try cook­ing one new dish a week. Meal prep shouldn’t be all chicken, broc­coli and brown rice. They should be meals that you (and your fam­ily) want to eat.

Take a break Plan on eat­ing out ev­ery now and then! Ev­ery­one en­joys a break, and eat­ing out can eas­ily fit into any healthy eat­ing plan, es­pe­cially if it’s sched­uled.

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