You are what you eat. You’ve heard that saying before, but do you really understand the truth behind this? Each day your body turns over 50-70 billion cells, the lining of your small intestine is renewed every week, your skin is replaced every 30 days and your red blood cells every 4 months. Where do you think your body is getting all these materials? FOOD! Acknowledging that the food we put into our body on a daily basis has an effect on what our body becomes in the future, puts in perspective how we should feed our body. We must be conscious of everything we put into our body if our main goal is to reach our full athletic potential. This includes being aware of every ingredient in the food we are consuming. Food bought and made by someone else has the potential to be detrimental to your athletic performance. The only true way of making sure the food we eat is benefiting our athletic performance is to cook the food yourself. I know cooking can seem like a daunting task. So many measurements and knobs on the oven how does anyone do it. If you want to ensure your success as an athlete you will make learning how to cook priority #1. The food you are putting into your body is just as important as your training regimen.
Step #1 is to ask a member of your family who is well versed in the art of cooking how to work the stove top, as this will be the main tool used to cook your food.
Step #2 is to live by the “5 S’s” for easy cooking. Soups, Salads, Sandwiches, Smoothies, and Stirfrys. The biggest thing is to experiment and see what you like. Here are some recipes I enjoy, and also provide high protein content.
Easy High Protein Examples for Each of the 5 S’s
Soup- Amy’s Lentil soup (with a side of toasted Ezekiel Bread with ½ avocado)
Salad– LARGE bowl of Mixed ORGANIC greens with 1 can beans or Wild Caught Salmon (or both) either mixed in or on the side (cooked with coconut oil on stovetop), tomatoes, cucumbers, raw nuts and seeds, optional fruit like berries or apples.
Options for dressing for salad: 1 avocado mixed in a bowl with pinch of sea salt, ¼ red onion, optional balsamic vinegar. Hummus (look for hummus without canola oil). olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Any dressings from Annie’s, Organicville, or Braggs.
Sandwich– The only bread that I give my stamp of approval to is Ezekiel Bread. It has the best ingredients of any bread on the market and you are getting 4 grams of quality protein in each slice. You can pretty much do any sandwich you like as long as you avoid deli meats, fried foods, and stick to organic free range meats and wild caught fish.
Smoothie– You can’t go wrong with healthy smoothies! They are by far the quickest, easiest and most efficient way to get high quality nutrients into your body. Smoothies should be a staple in your diet and can pretty much be fit in at any meal. I like them for breakfast, pre workouts, post workouts and even sometimes for dessert.
See Coach Russ’ earlier blog post on the difference between juicing and smoothies, as well as for smoothie recipes. My “go to” is to always use frozen bananas, berries, a handful of greens, and some protein powder, you can’t go wrong with that!
Stir-fry– Stir-frys are your go to dinner when you need hot food in your life after too many cold smoothies and salads. This is a great way to get plenty of vegetables in your diet at once. Here is my favorite stir-fry recipe.
Coat the pan with Organic Cold Pressed Coconut oil (you should be using coconut oil only from now on) and turn on medium heat.
Add base vegetables (eggplant, mushrooms, onions, carrots, zucchini, mushrooms, garlic)
Toss in a healthy amount of organic greens like kale, spinach, broccoli or collards ( all of these greens have a surprising amount of protein in them)
Cook your protein with the vegetables: beans, peas, wild caught fish, organic pasture raised chicken
Add your sauce- Tomato Sauce is my favorite (again read the label for any unknown ingredients that you want to avoid)
The biggest takeaway from this post is to take responsibility of what you are putting into your body. Many companies who make processed foods don’t care much about your athletic performance, and only care about profits. You need to take it into your own hands and become the master of your own kitchen. Become adept at reading labels before you buy anything.
The ingredients to stay away from are:
-High Fructose Corn Syrup
-Any ingredient that you cannot pronounce
Download the App Fooducate to scan foods in the supermarket. This will help you stay away from these ingredients.
Side note: I know this is a major lifestyle change for most of you. That is why you only need to do it 80% of the time. It’s called the 80/20 rule, and it’s something that Tom Brady coined. You need to be aware of everything you put into your body, making sure that 80% of the ingredients are of the highest quality and all of them are aiding in the development of your athletic abilities. The other 20% is for your mental health, so you don’t feel like an outcast and can still enjoy that slice of pizza with your friends. HOWEVER, this means 1 meal on Saturday and 1 meal on Sunday, that is what 20% means. The rest of the time you need to be on point.
Lastly, DO NOT BE AFRAID TO EAT! You are athletes and will perform your best when you are properly fueled before a game, practice, or workout. I am giving you a pass to eat as much fruit, vegetables, nuts/seeds, grains and beans/legumes as you want. Limit the animal products and the processed foods.
I will be offering you more recipes, tips, tricks, and healthy dessert ideas that will aid in your athletic development, in the future.
Jesse Lapiana, CSCS