I love milk! I really do. Ask any athlete who has traveled with me and they will tell you that if there is a bottle of milk in the fridge, it probably has my name on it. It’s my mixer with cereal to get me charged up and ready in the morning. My go-to recovery drink after a long day of training. My preferred beverage with almost any dinner. As an elite athlete, it’s important that I am purposeful in the choices I make food wise. It turns out, milk is a great choice to fuel my body for success. What’s yours?!
This past summer, as a new athlete on the US Ski Team’s Europa Cup Team, I had the opportunity to work closely with the high performance chef at the USST Center of Excellence in Park City, UT. Megan Chacosky, MS, RD, really helped me learn about the food my body needs so that I can be prepared for a dryland training session in the gym. She showed me how to make the right choices to ensure I’m ready for a day of gate training on the hill. And, most importantly, she encouraged me to design a game plan to ensure maximum energy to fuel success on race day. It’s great to have a chef and kitchen available right at the COE where I’m working out. Megan says she really loves her job because, “it is unique to be setup right on the floor where athletes are training. This puts athlete nutrition at the USST COE is on an equal playing field with their training.” As a member of the team, I’m fortunate that Megan will join us on our travels this winter to ensure we get the right nutrition at the right time. Most of us don’t have this level of access to a registered dietitian, so let me share some of the great tips and advice along with a go-to recipe I picked up from her so you too can be fueled for success.
The first thing Megan asks me every time she sees me walk into the gym is “Where’s your bottle?” Megan is reminding me about the importance of staying hydrated. She always seems to be right there at the right time to answer any question, or offer up a snack. I’ve learned a lot from her like nothing impacts your ability to have a good workout faster than dehydration. So now, my bottle goes everywhere I do—to the gym, school, on the ski hill, next to my bed, etc. At least 32oz of water, energy/recovery drink, or other liquid is in it at all times, and I try to remember to drink before I get thirsty.
Healthy Meals in Minutes
Megan understands that an athlete’s time is valuable. So, most of her go-to meals and snacks take minutes to prepare but are packed with the protein, fat, and carbohydrates we need. The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) in a recent position paper on Nutrition and Athletic Performance asserts, “Energy and macronutrient needs, especially carbohydrate and protein, must be met during times of high physical activity to maintain body weight, replenish glycogen stores, and provide adequate protein to build and repair tissue.” An athlete’s training doesn’t have much of an impact without proper nutrition. So Megan highly recommends a stir fry or curry for a quick and easy meal, saying that “the rice takes the longest to cook, but it’s easy to put in a ton of vegetables and lean protein in one simple meal.” From experience, I definitely agree and have found stir fry is a healthy and fast dinner or meal when my days are packed. I often pre-cook the rice on the weekend; that way all I have to do is warm it up while I cook the veggies and proteins. In only 10-15 min, I can have a healthy and filling meal.
Katie’s Go To Stir Fry
1lb Chicken Breast
½ bundle Asparagus
4 oz Mushrooms
1 Red Bell Pepper
1 Yellow Squash
½ cup Chicken Broth
¼ cup Honey
¼ cup Soy Sauce
1 pinch Red Pepper Flakes
1 pinch Salt and Pepper
2 tbsp Olive Oil
1 tsp Sesame Oil
In a large skillet over medium high heat, add the olive oil. Saute the veggies until tender. Remove from heat set aside on a plate. Add the chicken and cook until tender and just beginning to brown. Add the Veggies back into the skillet with the chicken.
In a small bowl, whisk soy sauce, honey, sesame oil, chicken broth, salt and pepper, and red pepper flakes. Add sauce to skillet with chicken and veggies. Let sauce thicken. Serve over rice.
Listen to your Body
Megan encourages us to make plans for meals and snacks. I find that when I don’t make a plan, the odds are I’ll miss a meal, make up for it with the consumption of something unhealthy, and wind up feeling rotten. When you plan your meals, especially if you are training or working out, you will be giving your body what it needs when it needs it. The ACSM agrees, stating that their research shows that “adequate food and fluid should be consumed before, during, and after exercise to help maintain blood glucose concentration during exercise, maximize exercise performance, and improve recovery time.” To keep my blood glucose consistent, I make sure to eat three meals a day timed around my training schedule. I also include in my plan timing for a pre-workout meal and a post-workout recovery snack. I usually eat a meal of lean protein and complex carbs about 2 hours before training or a workout. That makes sure my body is fueled and ready. Then within 30 minutes of finishing a workout, I usually have some sort of protein drink or shake with milk (of course!), fruit (fast acting carbs), and a banana (potassium). When I am on plan and staying hydrated, my body feels great, I have lots of energy, and I find it easier to concentrate and perform my best.
Now you too have the knowledge that can help you stay fueled for success.
For additional information, Megan recommends checking out EatRight.Org by the American National Dietetics Association.