Off-Season Nutrition for Athletes
To all who ran in the NYC marathon two weeks ago- or any fall marathon or Tri/endurance event- Congratulations! You have accomplished one of life's greatest athletic challenges, and you deserve recognition. Whether you are a first timer or an experienced runner, you know that running a marathon is not an easy task and requires adequate preparation. Before the run, you probably received many tips on how to prepare, and created a training plan and race day plan for yourself- which hopefully helped you have a successful run. Now that the race is over, you are in your off season until 2018. As important as a pre-race nutrition preparation is, an off-season nutrition plan is just as important. A well-balanced off-season nutrition plan will help you stay healthier, build strength, recover fully...and help ensure you are ready to ramp up your training again next season/year. During this off-season, there are a few key points to keep in mind:
- Set specific, measurable and attainable goals for yourself. Find an accountability partner that will help you stick to your goals. Examples might include finally spending time in the weight room building the leg strength you have been meaning to build, or working on your flexibility or swim form that you have been meaning to make time for all year.
- Give your body a break from your main sport(s) while not completely becoming a couch potato until 1/1/2018. Try new workouts such as: yoga, meditation, strength training, swimming, cycling or cross-country skiing.
- Remind yourself to tune in to and then listen to your hunger. If you really listen, you will likely find that you are less hungry and need/want less overall food since your training volume is lower. You do not need to go on a strict diet or deny yourself every holiday pleasure...simply pay attention and see what your body is trying to tell you.
- Continue to- or begin to if you have not done so during the peak training season- eat well-balanced meals. Include lean proteins, complex carbohydrates/fruits plus some healthy fats...and always include some vegetables!
- Make an effort to experiment with and try a variety of complex carbohydrates/grains and starchy veggies. Look outside your usual go-to breads, rice and pre-race pasta. Experiment with new bean and grain recipes. (A crock pot can be a huge help here!)
- And finally, ensure you are staying hydrated! Many athletes fall short during winter months-don't let that happen to you. Yes, the weather is colder, but the heaters are on at full blast, so you will still want to drink fluids to avoid getting dehydrated.
Whether you want to lose weight or stay in a healthy shape for the next marathon season, the most important thing is to listen to your body when it comes to your nutrition and exercise plans. Make the best decisions for yourself based on your off-season goals. Enlist a friend or coach as needed, to help keep you accountable to your goals. Enjoy the time off your main sport(s) while managing to keep your nutrition and exercise goals fun and attainable.
Cheers!...To A Healthier Thanksgiving/Holidays Season
Happy Thanksgiving Week Everyone
As this week officially kicks off the 2017 holiday season, it is important to pause for a moment- to reflect about the things that we are grateful for, spend time with our loved ones and eat some delicious foods. During this holiday season, many if our activities and traditions revolve around foods, so it is important to not deprive ourselves of our favorite holiday treats. However, that is not to say we should "write off" the days from Thanksgiving to New Year's Day as a 6-week food-fest, because we will only regret it on 1/1/2018. As the first holiday of the season, Thanksgiving is all about the turkey and foods and tradition. But what if we start some new traditions, and capitalize on the healthiest of the old ones.
*Have you participated in an annual Turkey Trot (road race) for years? If so, keep it up. If not, why not look up an event near you and start that new tradition this year?!
*Do all foods served at our holiday meal seem to be rich and indulgent? If yes, wouldn't it be fun to bring a new and healthier (but still tasty) recipe to the table this year? Whether you have been on a healthier nutrition plan all year and intend on continuing it, or have a dietary restriction; finding the perfect balance of foods during the holidays can be challenging. To help with healthier choices for thanksgiving, here are a few alternatives to the strapless of a thanksgiving meal.
Homemade Vegetarian Tofu "Turkey" with Vegetarian stuffing
Though a turkey is traditionally the star of a thanksgiving meal, there are many different options for people with dietary restrictions, or people who just want a different twist on the turkey. In these case, a homemade stuffed tofu "turkey" is one of the best alternatives for the traditional turkey. This recipe is fairly easy and is guaranteed to impress your guests.
For this recipe, you will need the following ingredients:
- 5 blocks firm or extra-firm tofu
- 2 tablespoon fresh chopped sage
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, minced
- 1 tablespoon fresh minced rosemary
- 1 tablespoon vegetable broth powder
- 2 Tbsp. poultry seasoning
- 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1/3 cup red wine
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 2 Tbsp. soy sauce
- 2 cups prepared vegetarian stuffing.
- Working in batches, process the tofu in a blender or food processor until smooth/creamy
- Add the tofu to a large mixing bowl, then stir in the fresh chopped sage, thyme, rosemary, vegetable broth powder and poultry seasoning, stirring well to combine
- Line a colander with cheesecloth or a thin towel
- Place the tofu in the colander, and a layer of cheesecloth or a thin towel on top
- Place a weight on top of the towel to gently press the tofu. Place on a plate or towel and chill for at least 3 hours
- Once the tofu is chilled and firm, scoop out the tofu in the middle, creating a hole or a well, and leaving about 1 1/2 inches of a tofu "shell" in the colander
- Gently pat your stuffing into the "well", then gently press the extra tofu on top
- Carefully invert your tofu turkey onto a lightly greased baking sheet
- Whisk together the balsamic vinegar, red wine, Dijon mustard and soy sauce, and baste or brush the tofu generously
- Bake for about 90 minutes at 350 F, basting again every 15 minutes
- Serve your tofu turkey with your favorite vegetarian gravy and a side of vegetarian stuffing
This homemade alternative for a traditional turkey is a healthy alternative for a traditional turkey, easy to make, and will surely become a favorite amongst your guests.
Garlic Cauliflower Mash
Another favorite staple of a thanksgiving meal is mashed potatoes. Though mashed potatoes are a favorite and a comfort food, they are generally high calories and also hard to portion control. This alternative is a great recipe for anyone who wants to lighten the Thanksgiving meal a bit.
For this recipe, you will need:
- 1 medium head of cauliflower, cut into florets
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped into quarters
- 3 tablespoons milk
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (or use cashew nuts if you prefer)
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
- Optional: chives or rosemary for garnish.
For the perfect garlic cauliflower mash:
- Bring a pot of salted water to boil. Add the cauliflower florets and turn the heat down to medium. Cook covered for 15 minutes until cauliflower is soft and tender.
- Meanwhile, heat butter in a frying pan over medium heat. Sauté the garlic for about 2 minutes until soft. Set aside.
- When the cauliflower is cooked, remove from heat and drain.
- In a food processor, add the cooked cauliflower, sautéed garlic and the butter it was cooked in, milk, Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper. Puree until smooth.
- Serve hot and sprinkle some chives or rosemary on top.
We hope you try and enjoy these two great alternatives for traditional thanksgiving meal staples. Whether you are vegetarian/vegan, or just wants deliciously healthy alternatives for thanksgiving, these two dishes are sure to impress your guests. Again, it is important that we spend this thanksgiving and the entire holiday season not depriving ourselves of our favorite foods but making healthier choices that leave us feeling great along the way. Great ways to make healthier choices including trying these lighter versions of some of the traditional heavier favs, eating breakfast, (and maybe even a healthy snack or two), before the main holiday event, and continuing to make and eat balanced meals including protein, carbs, vegetables, and fruits. As the holiday seasons are full of many delicious meals, it is important to keep the fruit and veggies dishes on the menu, and continue to hydrate- to help facilitate digestion and keep hunger at bay. Have a great thanksgiving and holiday season, celebrate all the things you are thankful for with your loved ones.
A Note from Lauren...
The holidays have begun! Thanksgiving is just a day away, and that means wine will be flowing, food will be everywhere, and belts will be loosened. However, you do not have to give up on your goals when the pressure's on. Yes, you may be surrounded by massive quantities of carbohydrates, but you can still make good decisions while sill enjoying the holiday.
If you know you are tempted, try to eat a small meal before you leave (stock up on veggies and fresh fruits!). Instead of filling your plate, try small tastes of the dishes you like. Pace yourself! Some Thanksgivings can be all day events - don't go overboard right away. Make sure you eat breakfast and maybe get a workout in before the festivities begin!
Regardless, enjoy the day with your families and friends! And, as always, contact the dietitians of Nutrition Energy to help you through the nuritrional maze of the Holidays!
What's your favorite Thanksgiving recipe? Do you or your family have any fun Thanksgiving traditions? Tweet us
or let us know on
! We'd love to see pictures of your meals and hear stories throughout the day!
Lauren Antonucci, Director