Q&A

Answers for wholesome living

What to eat for a busy training week?

Feb 11, 2017

Q:

My question is how and what should I be eating for someone that trains about 5 days a week and particularly portion size. I boot camp 3 days a week, run about average 8km once or twice a week, weight training on the odd occasion on fridays and cycle a min 60km on a saturday morning. On odd days mountain biking and trail running also does it for me. I hope this helps. Tx

A: 

Firstly, yaaaay on a wonderfully full and diverse, active week! Your body will thank you for all the different modes of training! Now for the more ‘tricky’ part of the question, the nutrition side. When I consult a client, I send them a set of forms, 5 pages long with questions about their health, nutrition, underwear size, bathroom habits, relationship status and troublesome family members (i’m kidding about some of those, not all tho!) then I send through another 40 questions after that so that I know everything I need to know before compiling their program. I need a lot of info before delving into a solid tailored nutritional plan because of the fact that one little tidbit can change the whole course of the program, so the info I am about to give you is very generalised and bear in mind that any medical condition, allergy or intolerance and goal would change the plan a touch! Based on your week and the info you gave me, I am assuming that your goal is mainly performance and wellness so here are the generalised basics you need to consider when planning your meals:

  • Eat often throughout the day! Short intervals to keep your body fueled and able to repair before the next workout!
  • Start your day with a good source of protein, this switches your brain on and triggers your metabolism, which in turn causes a release in energy which you will most certainly need for your day and week!
  • Include all the food groups (minus any foods you have an allergy or intolerance towards), I am a firm believer in balance and that all things created in nature are there for a good reason. Proteins, fats and good slow release complex carbs! Sweet potato, quinoa, brown rice, baby potatoes. The simple carbs come from fruits and veg!
  • Have your heaviest meal after your workout so that your body uses it for repair and recovery and you are not left feeling sluggish!
  • Depending on your goal, the macro nutrient profile (i.e. your protein, carbs and fats) differs. The general ‘formula’ for fat loss: 35% of your daily intake must come from protein, 25% from carbs and 40% from healthy fats. For muscle gain the split should be around  30% protein, 40% carbs and 30% from fats.  I know this sounds very technical but it gives you an idea of how I (and many in the nutrition game) figure out the basics of a plan first. Then the plan builds from there.
  • I don’t like to force people to weigh all their foods. It drives most people crazy and this causes them to ditch the plan. Athletes and very very serious individuals on highly tailored programs have to weigh their foods for accuracy and nutrition split but for basic nutrition and wellness these rules for portions apply. Palm size of protein for females, two for males. Carbs roughly what can fit in a cup! Dairy also no more than a cup and fats are a tablespoon for liquid fats, handful for nuts and seeds and 1/4-1/2 avo. Remember that this will differ based on output, goals etc. I keep repeating that, I realise, but the portions may vary depending on the individual! These portions listed are baseline!
  • The basic types of foods you should be eating often are: Lean ostrich or game mince, chicken breast without the skin (if you drain the skin it can hold up to half a cup of oil, gross!), turkey meat, eggs (chicken and eggs preferably from a local farm that lets his chickens run around all day and eat bugs and grass, I don’t even trust retail stores with the free range things anymore), low fat cottage cheese, full cream greek yoghurt, sweet potato, brown rice, quinoa, lentils, chickpeas, whole grains, loads of raw vegetables and 2-3 pieces of fruit a day. Keep the fruit intake lower than the raw veg intake, fruit still contains sugars and acid. Veg is more alkaline and less sugars. Avocado, coconut oil, raw unsalted nuts like almonds and cashews, nut butter (homemade if you can, the recipe is on my recipe page) or unsweetened unsalted peanut butter (there are amazing ranges out there. If your budget is a bit tight then go for black cat with the yellow lid). Seeds!
  • Between 2-3 litres of clear water a day! Green tea and herbal teas (and remember these don’t add to the clear fluid level). No juices and no soft drinks. You want to see me fuming, let me hear about dieticians letting people drink DIET soft drinks because they are ‘safer’ AAARG! HOLD ME BACK!
  • Stay away from SUGAR! Stay away from WHEAT! Stay away from synthetics. Remember this, if it isn’t something your great grandmother used to eat then don’t eat it.  Basically, anything that doesn’t look like it does in nature then don’t eat it!
  • For your longer cycles on a Saturday, pack nutritious snacks like dates, lean biltong, nuts and blocked sweet potato. Water and rehidrat (to replace those electrolytes)
  • Avoid alcohol, is just dehydrates the system and messes with digestion which in turn messes with nutrient absorption and this filters through to energy levels, performance and cranky level! hahah
  • nothing FAT FREE!!! EVER! Fat free = added sugar and disgusting ingredients so that it tastes yummier!

Without much of your personal history, this is about the safest breakdown I can give you at this stage. I hope that this has helped! If you are very serious about your training and wellness, then consider enlisting the help of someone like me (a nutritionist/dietitian).  This way you will have the EXACT breakdown of what you need, for your body, output, goal, performance, recovery, schedule, budget etc 🙂 Even if you can’t do that, use the list of foods above, you will at least be getting in nutrient dense foods that will fuel your body correctly! Like I always say, treat your body well and it will reward you, punish it and it will punish YOU!

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