What is food-first nutrition?
Every athlete wants to reach their peak performance, which often means pushing harder and longer in training and in competition. In the quest to reach their maximum potential, many athletes know that good nutrition is critical, but they may also look to the latest supplements and trendy diet regimens to give them that extra boost.
Some athletes, on the other hand, have found that a food-first approach is all they need to achieve peak performance. While some athletes may need to supplement their dietary intake because of a medical condition, many athletes can properly fuel their bodies and meet all their bodies’ needs with the right food. In the Food-First Nutrition series, Olympians, Paralympians, and elite athletes share how they maintain the strength and energy they need to compete at the highest levels of sport through a food first approach.
From Noah: My Favorite Foods for Before, During, and After Training
Favorite Pre-Workout Snacks
Before workouts, I go for foods that provide fast energy, and I always prefer real food over bars. Even though I’m lucky to have an iron stomach, I still make sure to get simple, easily digestible foods before workouts, just to avoid digestive issues during training sessions or competition.
Some of my go-to pre-workout snacks are:
- Wheat toast with butter or jam
- An apple or banana
- Leftover pasta or rice with a simple sauce
Refueling During Long Workouts
As an endurance athlete, I often did three, four, and five-hour training sessions. Most of my teammates would fuel with bars, gels, chews, and sports drinks, so I was atypical in preferring real food. My go-to fuel during a workout was a PB&J sandwich. It often got squished during the workout and would be a soggy, messy, easily digestible treat when I actually ate it.
Go-to Foods for Recovery
For cross country skiers and endurance athletes, bulk and muscle growth aren’t usually desired, but muscle recovery is definitely a priority. After workouts, I look for balanced snacks with carbohydrates, protein, and healthy fats. My go-to snack after training was granola, with plain full-fat yogurt and fresh fruit, or a sandwich with bread, meat, cheese, and lots of veggies. I also like eating leftovers from the night before as post-workout recovery food and I usually cook enough dinner to guarantee lots of leftovers!
For more nutrition recommendations for athletes, check out the TrueSport Nutrition Guide.
About Noah Hoffman