Eating out during competition doesn’t have to derail your nutritional goals. By making informed choices and being mindful of your food selections, you can optimally fuel your body while maintaining performance levels. Prioritizing hydration, seeking balanced meals, practicing portion control, and making smart choices about carbohydrates, fats, and snacks are key strategies to ensure health and energy throughout competition. Remember, preparation and conscious decision-making are vital to achieving success both in and out of the pool.
As a competitive swimmer, maintaining a healthy and balanced diet is crucial for optimizing your performance. However, when traveling for a swim meet, it’s common to encounter situations where unhealthy restaurant options like Olive Garden are the only available choice. While it may seem challenging, with a little planning and smart decision-making, you can make the most out of your meal and provide your body with the necessary fuel to perform at your best. Follow these 8 tips and tricks to make the most out of your nutrition travel needs!
1. Research the Menu: Before heading to the restaurant, take a moment to research the menu online. Familiarize yourself with the available options and make a mental note of the dishes that align with your nutritional goals. Look for items that offer lean protein, whole grains, and plenty of vegetables. Avoid high-calorie (high + empty calorie), greasy, or heavily processed dishes.
2. Start with a Salad: Restaurants like Olive Garden are known for their unlimited salad options. Begin your meal with a fresh salad consisting of dark leafy greens, colorful vegetables, and a moderate amount of dressing on the side. Load up on nutrient-rich ingredients to boost your vitamin and mineral intake.
3. Choose Grilled Protein: When it comes to the main course, opt for lean sources of protein like grilled chicken, fish, or shrimp. These options provide essential amino acids for muscle repair and growth. Avoid fried or breaded proteins, as they tend to be higher in unhealthy fats and calories.
4. Embrace Whole Grains: Select whole grain options whenever possible. For example, if they offer whole wheat pasta or bread, choose those instead of their refined counterparts. Whole grains provide sustained energy, fiber, and additional nutrients that contribute to overall health.
5. Load Up on Vegetables: Make vegetables a priority on your plate. Look for menu items that incorporate a variety of vegetables, either as sides or as a part of the main dish. Steamed, roasted, or grilled vegetables are excellent choices that provide essential vitamins, minerals, and fiber without adding excessive calories. Vegetables can cause gas and/or bloating so keep this in mind especially the night before a race!
6. Be Mindful of Sauces and Dressings: Sauces and dressings can be sneaky sources of hidden calories, unhealthy fats, and added sugars. Request sauces and dressings to be served on the side so that you have control over the amount you consume. Dip your fork in the dressing before taking a bite of your food to add flavor while minimizing the intake.
7. Stay Hydrated: While the focus is often on food choices, don’t forget about the importance of staying hydrated. Drink plenty of water throughout your meal to replenish lost fluids and aid digestion. Avoid sugary drinks and excessive caffeine, as they can dehydrate your body.
8. Watch Your Portions: Be mindful of portion control and listen to your body’s hunger and satiety cues. Consider sharing a dish with a teammate or asking for a to-go container to save half of your meal for later.
Top nutrient dense picks when eating out at Olive Garden.
When ordering, opt for lean proteins such as chicken, fish, or turkey. These proteins are essential for muscle repair and growth. Avoid red meats, which are high in saturated fats and can lead to inflammation. Additionally, choose grilled or baked options instead of fried.
Choose complex carbohydrates such as brown rice, quinoa, or sweet potatoes. Carbohydrates provide sustained energy and are essential for endurance. Avoid simple carbohydrates such as white bread, pasta, and sugary drinks, which can cause a spike in blood sugar levels and lead to a crash later on.
Include healthy fats in your meal. Healthy fats such as avocado, nuts, and olive oil are essential for brain function and hormone production. Avoid trans fats, which are found in fried foods and processed snacks.
When faced with limited healthy options during travel, it’s crucial to make choices that fuel your body for peak performance. By planning ahead, focusing on lean proteins, whole grains, vegetables, and watching portion sizes, you can enjoy a satisfying meal while staying on track with your goals. Remember, it’s all about balance and making the best choices available to you, according to YOUR unique nutritional guide.
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