How to Eat Once You Stop Competing
As athletes we are very aware of our bodies. We know exactly how much food, water, sleep we need to perform at our best. But what happens to our diet and nutrition when we are no longer in high level competition? After the structure vanishes and no one is telling us when and what to eat… it typically is a bit overwhelming and definitely a transition for most athletes.
Here are 3 nutritional tips to make sure you keep your athlete physique after you have hung up your shoes and taken off your uniform.
1) Keep Nutritional Awareness:
One of the best places for an ex-athlete to start, is to build nutritional awareness. We now have to pay more attention, because we can officially eat too many calories. For most athletes this will be the first time we will be consuming more calories than need be and it requires a conscious effort to keep track of what you’re consuming.
A 6-month study of 1600 people, conducted by Kaiser Permanente, found that those who kept daily food records, lost twice as much weight (18 lbs. vs. 9 lbs.) compared to those who did not.
Writing down what you're eating encourages us to be mindful of our food intake and help to maintain an appropriate amount of calories. There are also many apps out there that make food tracking even easier. (myfitnesspal, See How You Eat, and explore more) Find a method that works for you.
2) Focus on Food Quality:
Focus on your food quality because not all calories are created equal. Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian has studied the human body and concluded that it is very complex and the body uses/ breaks down food differently... even food that has an equal amount of calories in the lab.
Curbing your attention to less processed foods is a great way to stay on track with your health goals and new eating habits. Also people who eat majority of unprocessed foods have a tendency to feel more full. A great example is 10 Hershey Kisses have the same amount of calories as 50 baby carrots (200 cal). As you steer clear of over processed foods, it will help sort out and eliminate nutrient deficiencies. Enjoy this transformation, you are going to love the way you feel!
p.s. Be aware when you eat out at restaurants, the nutritional content of their food is very deceiving. Learning how to strategically eat out is a game changer and by mastering these 5 quick tips, you can easily own your mid 20's social life.
3) Understand Food Intake:
Start cutting back on the amount of food that is being put into your body. This is a hard transition for most and the need to cut back is far greater because our days of 5-hour workouts are a thing of the past. Unfortunately, we now probably shouldn’t eat the entire Chipotle burrito, no matter how tempting or delicious it will be. This is where food quality comes into play, the better we are eating the less food we will need to take in, and the more full we will feel. Break the norm, don't gain weight after competing like so many athletes do. Why do so many athletes gain weight after competing?
Each of these work hand in hand. As quality, intake, and awareness build, so will our happiness with our nutrition. As with everything this is a process that will not happen overnight. Do not become dismayed and remember you have an entire community that is either currently going through or has gone through something similar, read more.