Daily & Training Nutrition
These days it seems everyone has a different approach to nutrition. If not currently on some sort of ‘restrictive diet’, it seems commonplace that most have at the least gone through a phase of being on one for a period of time (vegetarian, vegan, gluten free, etc). Somehow in my many years of ‘being an athlete’ (if we include swimming as a kiddo, I guess we could say it’s been about 27 years now), I’ve managed to keep it simple, include all foods, and have avoided any types of elimination diets. While everyone is different, I wanted to run through a typical ‘day in the life’ of what I’ll eat when it comes to daily nutrition and training nutrition. When people hear what I do for a living, I almost always get the question “What do you eat, like 7000 calories a day?” The answer is, I have no clue! I am not one to calorie count; but I do know I eat consciously, I don’t skip meals, and I enjoy all things in some facet. I often eat what my body craves; I try to listen to it as much as possible. I figure in a balanced diet and an active lifestyle, there can be a place for everything in some ways; even your “indulgences”.
Breakfast: I often try to drink a glass of warm water with fresh lemon juice in the morning, if possible; I’ve heard numerous times this is good for digestion but it also is a great way to get hydrated first thing, and the Vitamin C is an added bonus. This is followed up by a cup of good strong coffee with half & half. Breakfast has lately either been a) a Central Market muffin and a few eggs scrambled or fried, or b) a bowl of cereal consisting of granola and Raisin Bran mixed, vanilla soymilk along with a banana and peanut butter, or oatmeal and peanut butter. If going to an early swim or run (ie: before 7am), I usually just drink coffee. Otherwise, I’ll have breakfast pre-workout. I am definitely not a meal-skipper and even when I don’t feel hungry, I rarely ever skip meals. I know it’s not the ‘norm’ but I prefer 3 solid meals a day and less snacking; I think it was how I was raised and I’ve often stuck to this. For me personally, I find if I skip a meal and graze more, I never feel fully satisfied; with eating regular meals, it seems to keep my hunger steady throughout the day yet I also avoid getting famished too often.
Lunch: I almost always prefer to solid training session mid-morning, so lunch is often usually just following a workout (hence, I don’t really ever do ‘recovery smoothies’ as I often eat soon after training). My lunch usually entails fruit (peach, apple, grapefruit; it varies), a sandwich or a wrap (often some variation of turkey, avocado, cheese, spinach, hummus, at times quinoa, and/or tomato when in season), and potato chips (great after hot workouts!). Pretty basic but often whole wheat bread or a good quality wrap is what I put everything on. I always finish lunch with something sweet, a chocolate chip cookie or a couple of squares of dark chocolate; and often a cup of coffee. I love to have a cup of coffee first thing in the morning and just after lunch.
Dinner: I usually enjoy a good beer (often an IPA) while preparing dinner. One of our staples is a very large salad (spinach or kale based) with red onion, blueberries, raspberries, goat cheese or fresh mozzarella, avocado, and nuts; usually almonds, pecans or walnuts. I love putting fruits in salads! I use dressing as well, of course; and my favorite is to mix a vinegar-based with something creamier (lately I’ve been addicted to Brianna’s Blush Wine Vinaigrette with Delmonico’s Restaurant Peppermill Ranch). We will round this out with usually a meat and a ‘starch’. Salmon is another staple for our main dish, and we love quinoa, rice or sweet potatoes on the side. Another simple staple for us is a good ‘quality’ frozen pizza (there are some great local Austin brands) but again rounded out with a massive salad. We probably do steak and/or burgers once a week. I try to stay cognizant of iron consumption, especially when training loads are high. I never skip dessert; but I am usually happy with a small cup of ice cream, a cookie or some chocolate.
Training Nutrition: Swimming- I subside on water. Maybe it is having grown up a swimmer but I never get hungry during a swim, and a water bottle usually does the trick! Running- I run best on an empty stomach, but before a long run (1.5 hrs or longer) I’ll usually have toast with peanut butter and maybe a banana. For runs over about 1.5 hrs, I will take a gel (starting at 60-80 minutes) every 30 minutes or so. (Oddly, this is less a bit than what I do when racing but I seem to tolerate nutrition very well when racing half and full Ironman). Cycling- I usually subside on water or energy drink for rides less than 2 hours. I may take a gel in a ride of 2-2.5 hrs (but realize that I often start these rides after a meal, on a fairly full stomach). When riding long (3-6 hrs), I usually take a mixture of gels, bars, and what I can get at a gas station stop (usually coke, peanut butter crackers, chips, sometimes pop tarts…whatever sounds good!). I aim to get in between 200-300 calories per hour on longer rides, often starting the calories about 1.5 hrs into the ride. For a run off the bike (usually 3-5 miles), I will take a gel before the run which is great practice for race day.
Snacks: There are times of course when pre or post workout, a meal is not immediate; or times when I just get hungry. Some of my go-to’s include anything peanut butter and jelly related (sandwich, wrap, banana with peanut butter), fruit (apples, peaches, usually whatever is in season), Greek yogurt (especially after a long or tough session for the added protein), carrots and hummus, salted pecans or almonds. I also love to sip on Kombucha throughout the day and another staple of mine is fresh lemon in water! And while I don’t do smoothies, I do love to keep Naked juices on hand as it’s a quick way to rehydrate but also get in some calories after a session. And as cliché as it sounds, I do love chocolate milk, especially after a very long or demanding session; it tastes good and is a great way get protein and carbs down quickly.
So in a nutshell, I love to eat! I try not to restrict anything; I eat what my body craves but at the same time, my husband and I try to eat pretty nutrient-dense foods for the most part. One of my definite cravings about every week or so is a good burger or a good filet wrapped in bacon. I figure when you’re an active individual who asks a lot of your body, you need to fuel it appropriately but also enjoy food as it is meant to be enjoyed!