Editor’s note: Many athletes don’t give much thought to off-season nutrition, but as Amy Kubal points out below, the off-season is a fantastic time to work on body composition, not crack open another cold one.
You know it’s important to continue training during the off-season, but the load and type of training probably look different than they did a month ago. It’s time to focus on weaknesses and build strength and power. Your diet during this “off” time is equally important. The off-season is the perfect opportunity to make diet changes that will build a better athlete. It’s also a great time to work on increasing muscle strength and improving power-to-weight ratio, both of which rely heavily on nutrition. Keeping your diet in check will prevent adding weight that will need to be lost once the new season rolls around. It is much easier to optimize body weight and composition now, rather than when it is time to perform. Consider the following when constructing an off-season nutrition plan:
- Training load and caloric needs have likely both decreased.
- Now is the time to optimize body composition and increase power-to-weight ratio. This occurs by decreasing body fat and weight while maintaining lean body mass and building muscular strength.
So which foods are the most important to include in a plan for healthy off-season nutrition?
Just as the case was during the competition phase, in the off-season it is important to choose whole, “real” foods as opposed to packaged, processed products. The following food lists include choices that will leave you lean and ready to perform when racing season comes around.
- Carbohydrates: Focus on starchy vegetable and fruit sources of carbohydrates in order to get the most nutrients. Choose a variety of fruits and vegetables and limit grains. Try sweet potatoes, yams, and spaghetti squash instead of pasta and rice.
- Protein: Grass fed beef, hormone-free poultry, omega-3 enriched eggs, wild game and fish are the best protein choices. If grass fed is not available choose lean cuts of beef, pork and other meats.
- Fats: Healthy fats are key to health, performance and recovery. Include plenty of coconut oil, olive oil, raw or unsweetened coconut, avocado, olives and moderate amounts of macadamia nuts, walnuts, almonds, other tree nuts and tree nut butters.
Choosing these foods will allow you to optimize your performance, recovery, body composition and health. If you would like to work on dialing in your nutrition, let me know. I will work with you to set up a program designed to help you reach your goals!
For information about nutrition during the competitive season, please see my post The Performance Edge: Ingredients for Success.
photo credit: monkeybum