Intro by Renee Elsdon Jacobs
Every year around this time, I take the opportunity to focus on nutrition and eating habits, with the hope that it will put me in a good place for the upcoming training season. Losing the holiday pounds is part of this, but only a minor component. I am also looking to reset bad eating habits that may have formed during the training season (most notably, “eat whatever you want, whenever you want, because there is no way you can offset the calories you are burning during training”). I also want to see how I am doing relative to macro and micro nutrient goals. Inspired by Stacy Sims book “Roar” (for female athletes), a variety of science-based podcasts, and athlete interviews, I try to make 40-60% of calories come from carbs (higher percentages when I am doing a lot of running), 20-40% from fat, and 20-30% from protein (about 150 grams/day maximum). If you’ve ever logged your food intake (using MyFitnessPal as I do, or similar) to figure out whether you are on track for such goals, you’ve probably learned that it is really easy to eat plenty of carbs and go overboard on fat (even when you think you are good about fat consumption!), but it takes some real effort to get enough protein. Because getting enough protein is critical for peak performance (check out Science of Ultra Podcast episodes 11, 42, and 129 for details on this), I focus a lot of energy on this macro nutrient. Over the years I’ve learned a thing or two, which also comes in handy when it’s time to load up on protein for recovery and adaptation during the training season. These are my current tried-and-true tricks for optimizing protein intake:
- Opt for high-protein pastas such as Seapoint Farms Edamame Pasta , Explore Cuisine Pasta (Black Bean is a family favorite). Although not as protein packed, quinoa and chickpea-based pastas are better than rice or wheat flour pastas.
- Eat lentils, quinoa, or beans (bonus – if you eat beans with rice, you get all the amino acids required to form a complete protein, which is a great vegan, gluten-free option) instead of other carb side dishes.
- For a 40% carb-30% fat-30% protein breakfast, have a big egg white, turkey bacon, and greens scramble with a whole-grain carb side.
- For lunch, take random leftovers from the fridge and turn it into a protein-packed soup by adding homemade bone broth (I collect chicken carcasses for months in the freezer, make a huge batch of bone broth, then freeze it in cubes for east dosing), or the convenient and portable Bare Bones Instant Bone Broth, or your favorite collagen powder. Or, simply drink a cup of bone broth on the side with your lunch.
- For high-protein snacks, try smoothies with protein powder and non-fat or low-fat greek yogurt (because fat-free and low-fat yogurts have more protein per serving and help you get protein without too much fat).
- Opt for lean meats, so you can consume a large portion without going overboard on fat intake. Lean meats include chicken/turkey/duck breast, pork/beef tenderloin, wild game, fish. Be careful about ground meats, which usually have a lot of fat content.
- Pump up the protein in homemade items by replacing some of the flour with pea protein, protein powder, and/or egg white powder. Throw bone broth and collagen powder into stir fry, tomato sauce, etc.
- And because I don’t want to be eating meat all day (for a variety of reasons…), I also try to incorporate tips from the vegans, which led me to discover Spirulina powder. My 3 year old son and I love it on our air-popped popcorn, in pancake batter to make green pancakes, and smoothies.
Here’s what my fellow DPMR board members turn to when they need a dose of protein:
Eliza Wendel: I am a Registered Dietitian and definitely track my macros a lot to ensure I am getting enough protein daily for optimal performance in my skiing, running, and lifting. My “go-to” foods are typically:
- Low Fat Cottage Cheese (I often added basil, balsamic vinaigrette, and tomatoes)
- Turkey Wraps
- On the go: GoMacro bars and Nick’s Sticks (the lean turkey ones are my favorite)
- Kodiak Cake pancakes!! My absolute favorite, eat them every day with turkey bacon
- Banza pasta
- Vital proteins collagen
Aude Hofleitner: I don’t “count” calories nor macros but try hard to get a serving of protein at every meal. It seems all the more important as I get older, and as a female. For example:
- I’ll add an egg on pizza or avocado toast (plus I love having the yolk mix in with the rest, yum!)
- Top a salad with chicken or add yoghurt or cottage cheese to oatmeal
- I also try to have some source of whole grain, beans or legumes that are higher in proteins than processed grains (homemade hummus is great!).
- After workouts, I enjoy a protein shake (for now Vega though I’ve been curious to try KOS which has a simple and understandable ingredients list… definitely not the case of all protein drinks out there!)
Carol Patterson: My go-to post work-out protein recovery is a combo of chocolate and vanilla Tailwind Rebuild
Jack Macy: I’m mostly plant-based, so this is always on my mind — calories and protein. For me it’s mostly about eating lots of real/whole foods every day that all include some level of protein. Specific protein eating includes whole grain cereal with soy milk for breakfast, nuts and nut butters, and good ole’ beans and rice. I eat faux-meat products too — really like Field Roast sausages as well as Quorn crumble. Plus tofu. As for supplements, I make smoothies with protein powder (Vega – French vanilla). And then Tailwind Recovery mix and Pro Meal or Clif bars for immediately after runs. I do eat fish here and there as well. And I don’t go out of my way to totally avoid eggs.
Kelly Barber: I do believe that high quality animal protein is extremely beneficial but that the overall percentage in the diet is low. Locally farmed beef and lamb is my go-to. Always looking for new recipes to eat the whole animal. And a scoop of Primal Kitchen collagen powder in my coffee every morning. I’m a fan of Dr Cate Shanahan. Her book Deep Nutrition has a full section on collagen as she support eating the whole animal. Mark Sisson has a nice breakdown on collagen benefits: The Definitive Guide to Collagen.
Meggie Inouye: “I second the collagen in my coffee! I use Great Lakes Collagen Hydrolysate to mix in my coffee. Or I use their gelatin to make virus fighting gummies for my kids. And I love homemade bone broth! It is so easy to make (boil a chicken carcass or get some marrow bones from the butcher). Tastes amazing after a run or ski! I also take Thorne MediClear Plus a few times a week especially after hard efforts. It is a protein powder, multivitamin, and kidney/ liver detox powder. Also a fan of whole foods… eggs, grass fed beef, dark meat chicken, nuts, and beans. I love the combo of chocolate milk and almonds right after a run. I also love this recipe from the Run Fast Eat Slow Cookbook that cooks dry beans with Kombu seaweed which helps the beans be more digestible and cause less gas. https://pin.it/2HVRVDL“
Do you have any tips you would like to share with the community? Leave a comment below!