Off-Season. Now what!
As fall nears, most athletes enter the active-recovery phase of training known as the “off-season”. This phase of your annual training plan is essential for resting, repairing and re-grouping physically and mentally after a long training and racing season.
With the decrease of training volume and intensity comes a decrease in caloric needs. However, as training decreases after the last race, many athletes continue to eat as though they’re still training hard and long hours. It can take a while for your body to adjust to the new “normal”, especially after you’ve grown accustomed to eating everything and anything all the time. This practice, however, results in fast fat-gain in the off-season as you over-consume unnecessary calories. Just as when you train, your
off-season nutrition plan requires attention to the quality and quantity of food.
Five Tips for Optimum Off-Season Eating
1)Ditch the energy bars
and sports drinks as meal replacements. These high-sugar, high-fat snacks aren’t necessary in your off-season diet, and those extra 200-300 calories of sugar aren’t going to be burnt off (Not to mention that most are no more than over-priced, glorified chocolate bars).
Reach for actual food for snacks between meals, such as a handful of raw almonds (about 20 pieces) and a cup of raw vegetables to keep you full and your blood sugar balanced.
2) Get Cooking
With the increased time on your hands, put them to work and get back in the kitchen preparing your own healthy non-packaged, non-processed foods. Practicing in the off-season will help build good habits you can hopefully continue when your training picks up.
Healthy food doesn’t have to be bland or boring. Experiment with herbs and spices to create your own culinary masterpiece. Alternatively, visit Moosewoodrestaurant.com for a handful of vegetarian recipes that even meat lovers will appreciate (or can adapt).
. Even though you’re not spending hours hitting the pavement or riding the roads, you still need to maintain proper hydration for optimal health. Water is critical for the transport of nutrients, the elimination of wastes, joint lubrication, and for a healthy immune system.
Aim to drink a daily amount of water equal to half your body weight (lb) in ounces of water and herbal teas, taking in about a ½ to ¾ of water per hour while awake. Monitor the color of your urine as a marker of good hydration. Look for a clear champagne color.
Just because you’re not training as much doesn’t mean you can skimp on breakfast. You still need to fuel your body for a day’s work and life activities.
Start your day off right with a meal rich in protein and complex carbohydrates. Add nuts or seeds to whole grain cereal, or an egg to accompany oatmeal to increase nutrient density and keep you energized longer.
As athletes we crave structure and organization, almost to a fault. Often the only thing that changes in our training diet is the flavor of our sports bars. Even if you’re eating a healthy meal, if it’s the same foods day in and day out, you’re likely missing out on some key micronutrients by avoiding certain fruits and vegetables. Increasing the variety of the foods you eat will improve your health and decrease the boredom that comes with eating the same old things.
Rotate your diet to include different types of whole grains, lean meats, vegetables and fruits. Swap quinoa in for brown rice; fish for chicken breast; kale in for spinach; and follow what’s in-season with fruits and vegetables.