Concepts to Think About When It Comes to Your Nutrition

Young woman carries a shopping basket filled with fresh produce. She is shopping for fresh fruit and vegetables in a grocery store.

Written by Allen Tran, MS, RD, CSSD, High Performance Dietitian and Chef for U.S. Ski and Snowboard

Nutrition is vital for any elite athlete or weekend warrior. It’s the foundation for peak performance and the fuel behind it. And when it comes down to it, what you put in your body can be the difference between standing on the podium or going home empty-handed.

Whether you’re looking to lose a few pounds, prepping for a local 5K, or simply want to live a healthier lifestyle, here are three main principles to think about when it comes to your nutrition.

Quality

Is the food you’re consuming nutrient dense? It’s easy to snack on foods that provide more calories than our waistlines prefer and leave us feeling hungry not long after. When it comes to your food intake, look for lean proteins, colorful fruits and vegetables, healthy fats, and slow-burning carbohydrates for a steady source of energy.

Tips and Tricks

  • Good lean sources of protein like chicken, fish, eggs, Greek yogurt, lentils and lean ground beef can help maintain muscle mass.
  • Remember to eat the rainbow when it comes to your fruit and vegetable intake for great resources of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. That means eating things like dark greens, berries, red and yellow peppers, tomatoes, oranges and any other colorful fruit or vegetable.
  • Carbs often get a bad rap, but if you choose whole grain forms of pasta, rice, and oatmeal or starchy vegetables like sweet potatoes and squash, they become a steady, slow-burning source of energy.
  • Consider swapping butter and deep-fried food for healthy fats like avocados, cage-free egg yolks, nuts, or extra virgin olive oil.

Composition

Are you getting the right amount of each kind of food? Now that you have an idea of what types of foods you should be filling up on, make sure you’re consuming portions that fit your lifestyle needs. Avoid overeating by sticking with a balanced plate.

Tips and Tricks

  • When it comes to protein, aim for a size of meat that is equivalent to that of a deck of cards, or a quarter of your dinner plate.
  • A variety of non-starchy vegetables like carrots, broccoli, or cauliflower should cover half of your plate.
  • The remaining section of your plate should be filled with a starch or grains. Two-thirds of a cup of wild rice or quinoa are great options.
  • Have a sweet tooth? Avoid the cookies and pastries, and try supplementing a piece of fruit as a post-meal snack or dessert. Remember, natural sugars are better than processed. Yogurt with fruit is a great option, too.

Timing

The saying “timing is everything” couldn’t be more accurate when it comes to maximizing your nutrition intake. Avoid skipping meals or eating bigger portions to make up for those you may have missed. Instead, try consuming a steady stream of nutrients and fuel throughout the day.

Tips and Tricks

  • Don’t skip breakfast and make sure it contains a balance of protein, veggies and good carbs like oatmeal or a whole-grain tortilla for a breakfast burrito. Smoothies with fruit and yogurt is another great breakfast option when on the go.
  • Eat lunch and dinner at a time that works best for your body. Have lunch at a good hour mid-day and avoid eating dinner too late. If your time is often pressed, meal prep for the week on the weekend, and store in a container to make sure you have quality meals available.
  • If you have snacks in between meals or after a workout, make sure they are wholesome. Fruit, Greek yogurt, veggies with hummus, or even a small protein shake are filling and great recovery options.

Portable Baked Scrambled Eggs 

These breakfast bites are packed with nutrition and are perfect for fueling up while on the go. Totally customizable, make them ahead of time and stash in the fridge for a grab-and-go option during the week.

Ingredients:

  • 1 dozen eggs, beaten
  • Monterey jack, cheddar or “taco” blend shredded cheese
  • Frozen spinach, thawed and drained
  • Diced onion and/or red bell pepper
  • Diced deli ham

Instructions:

  1. Heat oven to 400˚ F.
  2. Lightly grease a muffin pan with butter, canola oil, or cooking spray.
  3. Pour beaten eggs into the muffin pan cups, filling halfway up. (If you overfill, the eggs will expand too much and overflow).
  4. Add fillings to each pan cup, leaving some room at the top of the cups for eggs to expand.
  5. Bake eggs for 10-12 minutes, or until the eggs puff up and are light golden brown on top.
  6. Wait 3-5 minutes for the eggs to cool. This will help them release from the muffin cup pan.
  7. Take a butter knife and run it around the outside edge of each muffin cup to release eggs.
  8. Remove from pan and serve with whole-wheat bread, English muffins, or bagels. If frozen, reheat in the microwave for 45 seconds.

About the Author

Allen Tran is the high performance dietitian and chef for U.S. Ski and Snowboard. As a member of the organization’s sports science department, he oversees the delivery of high quality foods to fuel the athletes of the U.S. Olympic Ski and Snowboard teams, as well as their dietary supplement programs. Allen holds two Master’s degrees from the University of Utah in Sports Nutrition and Exercise Science and previously worked in fine dining at the prestigious French Laundry restaurant in Napa Valley, California.