How to Build a Balanced Meal Plan for Race Season

All About Protein

Protein is part of every cell, tissue and organ in our bodies; and it's constantly being broken down and replaced.  Protein in foods we eat is digested into amino acids that are later used to replace these proteins in our bodies.  

Complete proteins provide all essential amino acids. Here is how to incorporate protein in your three daily meals.

Breakfast:  Another great way to start your day and get a quality protein is by scrambling some eggs.

One large egg has about 6 grams of protein, lutein (good for your vision) and choline (helps preserve memory).  Don't eat eggs daily due to the 200 mg of cholesterol. Instead, switch between oatmeal and eggs throughout the week for a better balance.   

Lunch: Low fat or nonfat yogurt is a good accompaniment to any lunch because it provides protein and calcium, supporting exercise recovery and bone health. More protein can be found in Greek yogurt, about 20 grams, compared to regular yogurt, 11 to 13 grams.  

Read your labels and choose a yogurt that is vitamin D fortified. You also want to look for a yogurt that contains probiotics such as Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium to get the most benefit and help promote gastrointestinal health.

Dinner: Salmon is high in protein and omega 3 fatty acids.  You can also get small doses of vitamin D from this fatty fish, as well as, zinc. The omega-3s in salmon also have anti-inflammatory properties.  

All About Fat 

Dietary fat gives you energy, helps your body absorb vitamins and supports a number of other body functions. Monounsaturated fatty acids and polyunsaturated fatty acids promote good health while trans fat and saturated fat can be harmful.

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Breakfast: Try adding walnuts to your oatmeal in the morning. Walnuts are high in omega 3 fatty acids and have anti-inflammatory properties. This nut contains healthy fats, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated. Fats help our bodies absorb fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K.  

Lunch: Add avocado to your favorite sandwich or salad. Avocado is a great source of healthy monounsaturated fat and packed with vitamin E, folate and potassium— all important nutrients to an athlete in training. Avocado is a good substitution for other high-fat foods like cheese and mayo. 

Dinner: Olive oil is a good fat ti use for saut?ing or as a base in homemade salad dressings. It's high in monounsaturated fats, which may lower your heart disease risk.  

Use olive oil sparingly because although it's a healthy fat, it's also a calorie dense food.  A tablespoon or two should be sufficient.  

Planning your meals and snacks to include the three macronutrients your body needs will get you through those grueling workouts and bring you to the start line ready to race at peak performance.  

Including a variety of foods containing carbohydrate, protein and fat will also ensure that you are providing your body with the nutrients it needs including fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.  You wouldn't take shortcuts in your training sessions, so why would you sell yourself short with a less than optimal nutrition plan?

MoreA Race-Day Nutrition Plan for a 70.3 Event

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