Anti-inflammatory foods are also important during high-volume training. Training is a stressor to the body, which may create inflammation. Inflammation is felt as sore muscles and achy joints, and leads to slow recovery and increased risk for injuries. Emphasize anti-inflammatory meals that help to reduce muscle soreness, lower the risk for overtraining syndrome, and foster optimal recovery from exhaustive exercise, such as:
- Flaked wild salmon mixed with canola mayo, curry power, dried apricots, black beans and cilantro
- Ground flaxseeds mixed into oatmeal with walnuts and dried cherries
- Organic tofu and diced sweet potatoes sautéed in canola oil with garlic and kale served over brown rice
After a big event, you will likely take a bit of time off. You may not stop exercise entirely, but hopefully you will respect your body’s need for rest and tone down exercise intensity and duration. This is a time to be calorie conscious and make every calorie count. Your body needs all the nutrition that it can get after a hard training season.
Your calorie burn has been high and your appetite large; but all that changes now. You must be careful to avoid weight gain, and if weight loss is a goal, now’s the time to lose. Listen to your body; you should be satisfied with less compared to the height of training season. Make small adjustments to your everyday eating and eat slightly less than you normally would. Find unnecessary empty calories and eliminate them.
Focus on high-quality, unprocessed foods so that your body recovers well with adequate vitamin and mineral intake. If your diet is full of refined, packaged, and processed foods, calorie control may be in place but your body (and your training) will suffer from lack of proper nutrition. You may reach your weight goal, but you will be undernourished and your progress in your next exercise endeavor will suffer. Consider these whole-food swaps:
- Instead of toast, eat oatmeal
- Instead of crackers and cheese, eat fruit and cheese
- Instead of pasta, eat a baked sweet potato
- Instead of deli turkey, eat grilled chicken
- Instead of fruit juice, eat whole fruit
As your workouts change throughout the year, consider how you might adjust your diet. Small dietary changes make a big difference in your enjoyment of exercise and your progress towards your exercise goals.