Nutrition: Your weekly plan

Along with designing a training regime, my guess is that nutrition is the next biggest topic of discussion for multisport athletes.  Food choices and timing drive performance by fuelling your workouts and recovery.  Others have been very generous in sharing their advice with me and with that in mind, my goal is to share nutrition tips, recipes and stories with you on a regular basis over the coming months.  I'm starting off this blog series with my weekly meal planning process, because it is an important part of nutrition is planning. 

But first, a little context.  I'm a lacto-ovo vegetarian athlete, having switched to a meat-free diet in 1999.  I did so at the time primarily out of concern for animal welfare, however, I now also recognize the negative impact of meat-production on our environment through carbon emissions and land usage.  

Performance nutrition is all about energy.  What kind of foods will taste great and give me the energy I need?  Like many amateur athletes, each day, I balance a busy work schedule, 1 - 2 hours of training, as well as volunteerism and some semblance of a social life.  (What I don't have are children and I recognize and admire those that balance raising kids on top of everything else!)

For years, I've been intrigued by fellow athletes who described a recent change in their diets as providing them with "rocket fuel."  I wanted that!  

I eventually came to an epiphany: my vegetarian diet, combined with 7.5 - 8.0 hours sleep a night, is already rocket fuel.  An aside: loving your career and your hobbies are equally energizing.

I create my weekly meal plan every Saturday.  I rise relatively early and eat a small breakfast.  Then I pull up my calendar for the week, checking for evening commitments that will impact my meal plans.  I build my week starting with dinners and use leftovers for lunches.  My breakfasts and snacks are a consistent rotation of a handful of options.  

Then comes the fun part.  I open my binder full of favourite recipes, the Runners World Cookbook (a go-to resource) and review the ideas I've tagged online that week.  I'm an avid fan of Pulse Pledge and One Green Planet.  I fill in my dinners for the week, usually placing the quick and easy recipes on weeknights and saving more complicated endeavours for weekends.  


Here's how this week looked:
Scheduling Considerations
Today’s Workout
Gnocchi, broccoli, salad

Strength training

Quinoa salad with kale, mixed beans, vegetables
Volunteer meeting until 7:30 pm, will need something quick to make after
Strength training 
Seeing a movie at 7:00 pm, need something quick beforehand
Soba noodle salad recipe   variation
Volunteer commitment until 7:00 pm
Curry tofu stir fry

Work commitment until 6:00 pm
Run, strength training 
Out for dinner


Then I draft my list, building from a template that contains the weekly essentials, including lots of vegetables.

Weekly Essentials Template
  • Canned legumes: lentils, black beans, chickpeas
  • Hummus
  • Mixed nuts
  • Coconut milk
  • Greek yogurt (2% or 5%)
  • Eggs
  • Bread
  • Berries (2-3 packages, ideally organic)
  • Large fruit (2 types x 7 days = 14 pieces)
  • Avocados (full bag)
  • Broccoli
  • Baby spinach
  • Mixed greens or another pre-packaged salad
  • Kale or another dark green vegetable
  • Peppers
  • Pre-cut vegetable sticks or baby carrots
  • Tofu
In my cupboards, I will also have things like various seeds, hemp hearts, a full spice rack, vegetable broth, pasta, rice and crackers.  In my freezer, I typically have a couple types of frozen vegetables (including a stir fry mix), edamame and PC Blue Menu Meatless Chicken Breasts (a great meal back-up plan: 2.5 minutes in the microwave and you have a quick and easy protein source).That's it.  Once you get the system down, shopping is quick and easy, and you know you're ready for the week.  

- choose a day on which to plan and shop each week
- create a template list that contains your weekly essentials
- check your calendar and use it to create your weekly plan
- consider back-ups in case something changes
- make sure vegetables are prominent on your list

Happy eating!