Travel can be hard and Fast Food can be convenient. First, let’s challenge the thought that since you are eating fast food you can’t make sound nutritional decisions. It’s important that you enjoy what you eat and it is also important to fuel for performance or your work day. If eating certain foods will make you feel sluggish or take away from performance then let’s change that! Here are simple tips and meals that can make fast food convenient and nutritious!
What to look for?
Find options on the menu lower in added sugars.
Look for items lower in Saturated Fat and Avoid Trans-fat. Especially before the competition.
Athletes have higher sodium needs but sodium is still worth looking at when ordering fast food! If their is no way to reduce sodium, then prioritize more water.
Adding is Key!
Look to add fiber!
Add protein-rich snacks prior to eating fast food so you are not overly hungry.
Add color to the meal to form a complete plate!
Drink Plenty of Water, Fast food meals tend to be high in sodium heightening your need for water.
Ordering at Chipotle:
Pre-competition focus on Carbohydrates and Protein.
Save Fats such as queso, guac, sour cream, cheese for Post-competition
Double protein for Post-Workout to promote muscle recovery
Veggies & Brown rice both pre- or Post-workout for adequate energy and micronutrients
Tips Ordering Coffee drinks:
Aim to limit Added Sugar
Avoid syrups is preferred, Sugar-Free syrups are better alternative to support weight loss.
Choose low-fat milk to support weight loss goals.
Whole-fat milk may be preferred for weight gain goals.
Great question! We get this question from athletes all the time or from parents or coaches concerned about educating their athletes. What to eat the night before any competition or event depends on many factors.
It’s actually more important to be cognizant of what you’re eating and drinking in the days leading up to your game or competition. (Learn more here)
Avoid making common mistakes on intense training days or on competition days.
Consuming high-fat or high-fiber right before activity
My five tips to keep in mind when thinking about the night before game day
1.What you eat the night before any competition should be practiced in advance. I can’t stress this enough.
If you try new foods you could end up getting sick with stomach pain, cramping, or digestion issues, the meal could negatively affect your sleep, and ultimately end up disrupting your performance the next day.
Our clients and athletes learn through our coaching sessions that the meals and snacks consumed leading up to the event have a greater influence on performance than the meal consumed the night before.
2. Limit oils, too much fiber, and high-fat cuts of meat that take a great deal of time to digest and can prevent you from properly fueling up with carbs.
Too much fiber can also cause GI distress Your goal is to fill up glycogen (the storage form of carbohydrates).
Consume a casein-rich snack like cottage cheese, Greek yogurt, or string cheese paired with an apple or banana.
Casein (slow-digesting dairy protein) will help repair and rebuild muscle while at rest.
A small serving of carbohydrates will top off the fuel tank roughly 45-60 min before bed.
Cherries and bananas have also been shown to support restful sleep. Cherries are a natural source of melatonin which helps you fall asleep.
Bananas are a great source of magnesium which is a mineral aiding in muscle relaxation. The perfect combo to help your muscles relax, recover, and for you to sleep well before your big game or competition!
NO NEW FOODS THE NIGHT BEFORE A GAME OR ON GAME DAY! I can’t stress this enough!
Practice foods and meals you want to eat the night before a game a week before to know “it works and feels good for you”.
What are the benefits of partnering with Nutrition with Wendi to help you with your performance or recovery?
” Wendi has helped me feel better going into games and camps and has assisted with my weight gain goal. I have gained a solid 10 lbs since we started working together and I have more energy during practice and training. My muscles aren’t as sore after games either.”
The Nutrition with Wendi team utilizes evidence-based science to tailor nutrition programs for athletes to optimize performance, minimize health risks, and enhance recovery from training while focusing on injury prevention. We partner with parents, sports performance staff, and special needs and recreational athletes to offer nutritional guidance and optimal athletic performance and lifestyle plans. We provide virtual services including telehealth but are based in Nashville, TN. Follow us onTwitter, Facebook, and Instagramfor more nutrition information. Service
A term you may see a lot of on social media lately is “food freedom”. This ideology, if you will, is combatting old practices of dieting and instead giving individuals the freedom to eat foods without having to eliminate certain food groups or the foods that they simply enjoy eating. Wendi and I share the same philosophy that all foods fit and we should never eliminate food groups as it puts us at risk for nutrient deficiencies. In this blog, I’ll discuss the meaning of “food freedom” and how to achieve it in 3 simple steps so that you can achieve freedom from food as well!
What does “food freedom” mean?
Food freedom can look different for everyone, however, I prefer to define it as the freedom to enjoy all foods without restriction. It means to have a healthy relationship with food without being stressed or guilty when indulging in the foods you love to eat. You’re eliminating the rules of dieting and embracing the joy that food brings to the table…no pun intended!
Is food freedom important?
I am guilty of trying a few diets and quick fixes in the past, but during each escapade, I always thought to myself, “Why must I eliminate foods that I really enjoy eating?” I first heard about food freedom in the midst of the pandemic when so many people were trying to improve their health and seeking out a new fad diet to help them achieve their goals quickly. I had friends who were following keto and carnivore diets and I would sit there asking them, “Well don’t you miss vegetables? Don’t you miss having a bowl of pasta?” and their response was always yes.
I understand why people are driven to try these diets out; they see others through social media or by word of mouth who have had major successes. However, we must remember that everyone is made differently. What works for one individual will not necessarily work the same way for you. This is a hard thing to swallow because we as humans naturally want to see results quickly and will try just about anything to achieve that. But what if I told you that you can still work towards your goals, whether they be to lose weight or pack on muscle mass, by eating ALL of the foods you love? Would you believe me? Finding freedom from food can alleviate so much anxiety that surrounds many people when they eat. By achieving this, we can boost our self-esteem while gaining confidence that we can be in a healthy mental and physical state without restricting ourselves from the things we enjoy.
3 steps to achieve food freedom
Eliminate 1 thing… diet culture!
Yes, I am encouraging you to replace a bad habit with a good one, something NWW offers in “Learn It, Lose It, Live It”, an evidence-based group program to help you stop dieting and start living! It’s the mentality that we must be constantly dieting to achieve our goals. We face many advertisements for dieting on television, in magazines, and through social media, so I challenge you to take a step back. Unfollow accounts that are diet-specific, throw out the magazines promoting the latest fad diet and change the channel when you start receiving the subliminal messages that you must diet in order to be healthy. Diet culture doesn’t want you to know the real truth about what can make you healthy in a natural way (check out Wendi’s blog entitled Strategies the Diet Industry Does Not Want You to Know to learn more). This is the beginning of taking a step in the right direction! Enroll in LEARN IT, LIVE IT, LOSE IT GROUP PROGRAM to gain the confidence you deserve (NEXT GROUP BEGINS JULY 18TH)!
Fuel your body with intent
If you have been dieting for a while, your body is going to need some time to acclimate to eating more food. Registered dieticians Wendi and Sydney recommend 20-30g at each and 10-15g during snacks, depending on your goals. Consume whole grains and plenty of leafy, green vegetables to increase energy and fiber intake. Also, be sure to stay hydrated which helps with weight management and helps flush out waste. If you need ideas for easy, delicious recipes, check out our Recipes page on our website.
Find enjoyable movement. Exercise can look different for everyone. Maybe it’s engaging in team sports, lifting weights, hiking, tennis, or yoga. Resistance training has been proven to burn calories even during rest. The important thing is to be moving in a way that is fun for you! Try to exercise for at least 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week. Figure out what time of day you prefer to get your movement in and stick to a routine. It can help to have a friend join you and help with accountability. You can follow me on Instagram @lindsayd_nutrition to find a few workouts you can do at home or in the gym.
Hopefully this blog has given you some insight into the idea of food freedom and how to simply achieve it. It’s not going to be achieved overnight, because let’s be honest, diet culture practices were not achieved in a day either. Start small and work towards a new habit and goal as time goes on. If you need help finding freedom with food, book a FREE Discovery Call so that we can discuss your goals and develop a personalized plan for you. I look forward to hearing from you soon!
I advocate for planning both meals and snacks when you will be traveling for work or games, but also on vacation. Please see previous travel nutrition resources that I have outlined on both Instagram and Twitter. You can absolutely be healthy and meet both your health and fueling needs by scoping out the menu, restaurants, and hotel options ahead of time. Many often struggle to make good choices at the moment so it’s wise to plan ahead. I always express we have time to map out our travel because like sporting events and work meetings we know the calendar in advance. In previous blogs and presentations, I have made the effort to always say, “opportunity favors the prepared.” Despite the limited choices, you can make healthy choices at fast food places, gas stations, restaurants, and even concession stands.
So here are some guidelines to equip you with tools to make successful choices on the road, at the table, in the drive-through, and at the sporting event.
-Travel (Pack a cooler).
-You always want to pair a protein with produce.
-Failure to plan will result in limited options and will put you in a situation to be less inclined to make a healthy choice that supports your fueling and health goals.
-Fruits like (apples, pineapple, kiwi, strawberries, oranges, and banana)
-Veggies like (cucumber slices, carrot and celery sticks, sliced bell peppers, and cherry tomatoes)
-Always choose grilled, baked, roasted, or steamed in regards to veggies and protein
-Make sure your bread or bun is whole-grain
-Water in place of soda and fruit juices
-Reduce portion size (don’t supersize to save a buck) your waistline will thank you. Ask for a to-go box immediately upon ordering to have a plan to portion control.
-Replace fries with Greek yogurt, salad, or fruit cup option
-Ask for dressing on the side
-Replace mayo with avocado as a healthier option to increase creamy taste, texture, and flavor
-Use olive oil or avocado in place of dressing if able
Subway has protein bowls now!
You can replace the high-fat, high-kcal dressings, mayo, or spicy blue cheese dressing with avocado or olive oil.
You can also ask for the dressing on the side. Choose grilled chicken instead of fried. Ask for additional proteins (egg, grilled meats, cheese) to meet your needs!
Chick-fil-A (one of the most popular fast food places amongst teens and my athletes personally)
Young athletes and adults will still go to fast food places and will yes, eat chicken nuggets. So, practical tips are something I am a huge proponent of. Would I rather you eat a grilled turkey cheese sandwich on whole-grain bread, spinach, and avocado slices with fruit? Yes, absolutely! But the reality is …that won’t always be an option. So, read on for healthy options at Chick-Fil-A!
470 calories, 24 g fat, 22 g carbs, and 43 g protein
A grilled chicken sandwich is also a wonderful option
Roughly 380 kcal, 44g of carbs, and 28 g of protein!
You can ask for extra tomato and lettuce
If you’re concerned about consuming more protein and fewer carbs you can use half the bread. Bear in mind the bun is multigrain so it is still healthier than white as it contains B-vitamins and has not been stripped of its nutrients like most white bread.
Fruit cup instead of side salad or ask for dressing on the side and enjoy the salad.
When eating at a sit-down restaurant:
-Scope out the menu before going
Never go to the restaurant OVERLY HUNGRY! You will overheat and be unhappy with yourself.
Have a small snack before you go containing some protein. A few great choices would be:
1/2 apple with some peanut butter
1 string cheese with cucumber slices
Hummus and carrot sticks
1/2 protein bar (travel remember)
-Meet your needs (protein, produce, portion)
-Ask for a box before the food arrives to have a plan to consume the proper portion. (Many restaurants often serve 3x the appropriate portion). Consume half of each of the food on your plate and put the remainder in the box to take home or put in your hotel fridge!
Concession stand/gas station eats
**Keep in mind convenience stores should not be your reliance as you will spend more money out of sheer convenience. Versus if you purchase these items ahead of time before travel you will save money and also not put yourself in a situation to be limited in making a healthy choice.
But should you need to stop without packing a cooler here are some healthy options!
-Nuts and seed bags (pistachios, walnuts, pecans, cashews, almonds)
-Pick fruit (apple, pear, fruit cup, grapes, banana) and pair it with a protein bar (see above options)
-Almond butter or peanut butter packs (Justin’s Almond Butter or Jif)
-Hummus and carrots mixture
-Greek yogurt (Chobani is found at every gas station)
-Quest protein bars or RXbars (almost every gas station carriers these)
-Muscle milk, Fairlife Corepower protein shake, Shamrock Farms Rockin’ Refuel, and Organic Farms
In closing, failure to consume enough quality protein, carbs, and overall kcal will increase the risk of injury, decrease performance, hinder cognition, blunt focus, and limit the overall health athletic performance of the individual. Nutrition can make a good athlete great or a great athlete good. It is also important to lead by example if you are a parent or coach leading a group of student-athletes.
This blog offers several tools to fill your toolbox as a coach, athlete, parent, and beyond. I am passionate about helping both young student-athletes and adults live a healthy lifestyle. I kindly ask you to share it on social media pages as well as with your student-athletes.
Say a prayer for our government officials in office while you’re at it. Our world needs some extra prayers and kindness. As you know, I am a Christian-focused dietitian and am employed by Jesus Christ. This entire platform is used to help my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ nourish their temple. But for the goal of glorifying God. It’s all for Him.
In good health, safety, and athletic performance,
Wendi Irlbeck, MS, RDN, LD, CISSN
Wendi Irlbeck is a registered dietitian nutritionist and performance coach. Wendi utilizes evidence-based science to tailor nutrition programs for athletes to optimize performance, minimize health risks, and enhance recovery from training while focusing on injury prevention. She partners with parents, sports performance staff, and special needs and recreational athletes to offer nutritional guidance and optimal athletic performance and lifestyle plans. Wendi provides virtual services including telehealth but is based in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Wendi works with clients of all levels and ages across the US as well as Canada and the UK. You can find more about Wendi and scheduling an appointment with her on her website.
What can hiring a sports nutritionist offer your program? Learn more here. Testimonials of Wendi’s expertise from colleges, coaches, parents, young athletes, and high school administrators can be found at the testimonial link on her website. You can also follow Wendi on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagramfor more nutrition information