It is now December. This is the off season. Most of the triathlon races are over. The holidays are upon us. And you wonder what to do nutrition wise in the off season so you don’t put on weight! Or maybe this is the time to really focus on your nutrition so you can lose weight or rather not gain weight. Nutrition is really a year long activity. We just change the focus on what we want to do at various times of the year. This might be the ‘I don’t care about what I eat” phase, or it might be the “Now I really need to start paying attention so January is not so bad!”
With one holiday down and another on the way, we tend to let the nutrition go to hell during December. But this is actually a good time to get started on a new nutrition plan as you are usually doing much less training and the nutrition needs to be adjusted accordingly. Here are a few tips you can use now to get prepared for the rest of this year, and get a head start on next year. Why wait until January 1?
1 – Do use less sports nutrition products during training sessions.
If you are using 2 scoops of Infinit or Accelerade or whatever drink mix in your water bottles per hour, this may be the time to drop that amount to 1 scoop per bottle. Or if your sessions are only an hour, just plain water will do. Most of us are not training that hard or at high intensity to need more calories and electrolytes per hour.
Save yourself some calories by decreasing your intake while training – on the trainer, the treadmill or anywhere else.
2 – Cut back on your carbohydrates.
Athletes tend to eat a lot of carbohydrates for fuel. But the more you eat, the more you crave. And the more you eat, the bigger your waist line will get especially when the training volume and intensity are lower in the winter months. Now is the time to scale back the carbohydrates to half of what you are used to. But at the same time, increase your green and green leafy vegetables and your healthy fats.
3 – Try changing your carbohydrates.
This may be the time to work on changing your carbohydrates from bars, bread and pasta to other real food options like root vegetables, dates and baked potatoes. I have used dehydrated bananas or plantain sweet potato cookies as my go-to food. This may make eating a bit more exciting by trying other foods. The Detox Plan for Athletes is also a great way to make this change. There are over 70 recipes in this book, most of which are wheat free and all of them are real food options.
4 – Drink more water!
In winter months, you dehydrate almost as much as in the summer. Mostly because you are inside and the heat is on in the building. The winter months are good months to focus on drinking every 2 hours during the day in between meals. You will feel less hungry as you drink more water. But you can also drink more hot tea (but be careful not to add too much sugar, or use honey sparingly).
5 – Focus on anti-inflammatory foods.
This is a great time to look at anti-inflammatory foods. The most inflammatory foods are sugar (any kind), hydrogenated fats (only in processed foods – read ingredients on labels!), wheat (any and all kinds, whole or enriched), brown rice (it is hard to digest!), artificial sweeteners, colors and chemical additives/preservatives.
Try to include more cabbage, kale, broccoli, turmeric root, honey (in place of sugar), root vegetables and cold water fish. I have an Anti-Inflammatory Plan which can identify which foods to avoid but also help you find foods you can eat. This is the time to explore new foods! You have more time since you are not training as much! But if you wake up stiff, joints aching or keep getting injured,it may be the foods you are eating that make everything hurt, or tell you when it will be raining or snowing!
December may be the best time to focus on your nutrition so you can get into the new year in perfect health. You spend less time training, so you have more time to focus on healthier eating.
If you need more personalized programs to get you ready for your season, consider the plans available here with Joanna Chodorowska, BA, NC – athlete and sports nutrition coach. She will help you find what works for you and your schedule. And you can still keep the ice cream, chocolate and yes, beer.
You can also check out the December specials here. Get a jump start on your nutrition and health for next year!