I was asked recently whether I’d be up for sharing what a day on my plate looked like. An athlete was interested in seeing what I eat pre/post training and for the remainder of the day to support my training, recovery and overall health and immunity. She suspected that she was a chronic ‘under eater’ and thought that maybe she wasn’t alone. So I thought i’d give you a look into a day on my plate (obviously every day is different, but give you an idea) and feel free to reach out if you have any questions!
Age: 38 (yes! getting close to the big 40 now!) 😉
Height: 157cm (or 5foot1 if you prefer)
I tend to not fluctuate much, my lightest race weight has been 47kg – which looking back now was probably a touch too low. I still raced well, but my mood and energy throughout the day wasn’t great plus my recovery post racing was HARD. It would take me 2 weeks to recover from a sprint, and 4-6weeks to recover from a half. (not ideal!) I find a good healthy happy medium for me is around 50kg. BUT in saying that I don’t stress over this, and certainly not right now am not focusing on it. I look at food as FUEL for my body, so it can support my training, my racing, my recovery and my health and immunity.
I firstly wanted to say – that, just like training, you need to do what works for YOU. Not just doing something because someone else does it. Yes of course, take away some general principles, some tips for good eating habits, ensuring you are fueling sufficiently for training, recovery and general health, but what works for ME doesn’t mean it is right for YOU. If nutrition is something you want to focus on a little more, then I recommend working with a naturopath or sports nutritionist. We have a number of specialist we work with in this area, and in particular for those who may have sensitivities, stomach issues or underlying health conditions. The most important part as always – is listening to your body. How does something make you FEEL when you eat it? How do you feel 1-2hours after? Do you have any symptoms? How are your energy levels throughout the day? Do you have regular bowel movements? If you think something isn’t right for you, then maybe it’s not..
And on a side note – just because as endurance athletes we train more than the average person, it doesn’t mean we can eat average. As a general principle: Eat a mostly wholefood diet filled with a variety and abundance of vegetables and fruits (think the colour of the rainbow!) include some supporting gut health including cooked and cooled sweet potato, fermented foods, bone broth etc, and don’t forget your good quality carbohydrates, quality protein and good sources of fats.
My food philosophy.
I’m not vegetarian. I’m not vegan. Nor am I paleo or low carb. I simply work on eating an all round nutrient dense whole foods, mostly plant based diet to support my health and my training. I supplement in areas I know I need to or have been tested for and I enjoy chocolate. 😉 So I eat lots of vegetables, and a sprinkling of fruits. I do my best to understand where our meat and animal products come from and I do what works for me and my family. So do your own research, and do what works for YOU, but I do believe we should all eat more plants, more often.
A DAY ON MY PLATE: HIGH TRAINING LOAD DAY
SAMPLE TRAINING DAY: HIGH TRAINING LOAD DAY
AM 1.5+hour strength + high intensity indoor training ride (hard session)
Day time walk with the kids + 30min strength/core
PM 1hr Endurance based resilience run
SAMPLE FOOD PLAN: HIGH TRAINING LOAD DAY
Pre AM Training Session: Glass of water, just to wake me up!
During session: 1/2 – 1 banana + water with salt/lemon OR Koda Electrolytes Tablet
I’ll generally have a banana on hand to help fuel the session. This can depend sometimes on what (and when) I ate the night before. But given this sessions is longer in duration (1.5+hrs) plus includes intensity, I like to include some fueling during the session as I know my glycogen stores will start to become depleted. Given we aren’t near racing, I aim to consume whole foods rather than gels etc as I’m not working on training my gut / practicing race nutrition.
Another option here: my home made chocolate sweet potato brownie or a home made / quality bar, or some homemade banana bread etc. And don’t forget the hydration! With more indoor trainer session, there’s a lot of sweat going on !
Post Session: Green Protein Smoothie OR Loaded Oats & Chia Porridge
My Green Protein Smoothie is my go to Smoothie, packed full of goodness including carbohydrates, protein and fats, and all round balanced post training fuel. I generally have this within half an hour of finishing my session – or when kids allow. 😉
But some days I don’t feel like a smoothie, or it’s a cold morning and there’s nothing like a big bowl of warm oats to warm you up and fill the belly after a big session. My loaded oats & chia porridge has all of that and more and keeps me full all morning.
~2-3hours post session/smoothie : Egg bowl / Omelette OR leftovers
Around 2-3 hours post smoothie (or a bit later if I had porridge) I’m ready for my next re-fuel. My favourite go-to is an egg bowl or omelette. Basically 3 eggs, tossed in with some pre roasted vegetables plus a handful of spinach, some goats fetta, a side of sauerkraut and a dollop of my Green Basil Veggie Pesto and/ or my Homemade Hommus and sprinkled with hemp seeds and nutritional yeast. And I don’t skimp on the salt or pepper either. 😉 (see here why food prep is king?!)
Omelette is basically the same, but it’s just whether I can be bothered / have the extra time to make the meal into an omelette. You can also add a quality bread or sourdough to boost up the carbs if you don’t have many root vegetables included. If you aren’t working from home / don’t have the time to whip something like this up, part of your meal prep could be a delicious frittata filled with roasted vegetables and simply add the rest as a side. But really anything goes with eggs! Just make sure there are plenty of greens and a variety of colour.
If i’m not vibing eggs that day, and I have left overs from the previous nights dinner, then leftovers it is for lunch!
Mid-Afternoon Snack: Once lunch has settles, kids are asleep, some work has been done, I’ll generally do a mid-day strength/core and/or mobility session. After this I’m looking for a light top up for my PM run session. Given on this day my PM run session isn’t a key / long or intense session, I’m just looking for some additional fuel for my day, rather than to fuel the session itself. Generally around 1-2hours before my PMsession I’ll have something like a small bowl of berries with Greek/Coconut yogurt topped with nuts and seeds, or a slice (or two!) of home made banana bread with yogurt/berries on top, a sliced up apple with peanut butter, or if I’m looking for something a bit sweeter, my chocolate peanut butter slice or No Bake Choc Bites ! An afternoon tea goes down nicely here too! 😉 Anything here goes really and it can really depend on how I feel, but I’ll always have something. OH – and that reminds me, I don’t drink coffee… In case you were wondering. Not for performance or health reasons, simply because I can’t stand the smell let alone the taste! (yes – go ahead and judge me!) haha
Dinner: Mexican Burrito Bowl
I could pick any of my dinner favourites to add here for dinner, but one of my favourite things for dinner is to have a dinner ‘bowl’. Basically a lot of different veggies, combined with some protein and carbs and you have a bowl full of goodness. Here I share my Mexican Burrito Bowl. I aim to have a lot of my dinner prep already done before I head out for my PM session so it’s easy to whip together once I get back (and especially with kids, you need to be organised for dinner time!)
Post Dinner: I’ve got into a habit of enjoying a nice little sweet treat post dinner alongside a sleep time tea. My favourite pre dinner tea at the moment is Pukka Night Time Tea.
My favourite store bought dark chocolate at the moment is Green & Black Organic Dark Chocolate, Loving Earth, and Pana Organic (dairy free). Also when I get around to it, I love to make my own Raw Chocolate – if you have never made your own chocolate before, give it a go!
Supplements: Currently I am supplementing with a Womens multi with Activated B’s, Magnesium, Vitamic C and Zinc. And I don’t skimp on quality. (ie practitioner only brands) I don’t always have all of these all year round, and sometimes I need to add in others based on blood work (which I recommend all athletes get on a bi-annually or annually basis) and top up in other areas as needed / i’m deficient in so I’m not just chugging down tablets or wasting money. Remember though, we as athletes are generally training longer, harder (or both) than the general population, so ensuring your body is getting all the vitamins and minirals it needs for not just optimal performance, but optimal function is so important. And sometimes we simply can’t get enough from the foods we eat and/or additional can help with better recovery.
So there you have it – it’s always hard to choose just one day to share, as each day for me is very different, and I try to eat a variety of foods daily – not to get stuck into a ‘food routine’, but instead have a suit of meals and snacks that you can draw on to create diversity.
Feel free to let me know if you have any questions!
Sarah is the Director & Head Coach at Complete Per4mance Coaching. Born out of the desire and passion to not just coach but to educate athletes, Sarah shares her 10+ years of coaching and racing experience, knowledge and education with athletes of all levels to help them achieve their optimal performance while maintaining a balanced, happy and healthy life.