3 Summer Nutrition Goals for Offseason Athletes

During the summer, athletes can go from having a hectic, crazy-busy schedule, to having more time off and less hours spent training. Summer is a great time to relax and recover from a hard year of training, but it is also a great time for athletes to pay closer attention to their diets, getting into a routine of healthy eating that will stick with them throughout the rest of the year.

1. Enjoy different foods by eating seasonally

Summertime fruits and vegetables are readily available at your local farmer’s market, and they taste even better when they’re in season.

Shopping at the farmer’s market is also a great way to branch out and try a new vegetable this summer – pick out a new vegetable, find a recipe utilizing that recipe and make it! The offseason is the best time to do this, because you have more time to branch out and try new foods and recipes.

Athletes tend to fall into habits, eating the same foods during the season day in and day out, so it’s important to add some variety to your diet while you can, trying out some new recipes you can fall back on when you’re busier during the season.

2. Get in a habit of “food prepping”

One of the biggest complains busy athletes have is that they just don’t have enough time to eat healthy throughout the week. Doing some “food prep” one or two days a week is one of the best ways to always have healthy meal and snack options on hand. Take one day to gather ingredients at the grocery store and a few hours to wash and cut vegetables, make grains, cook proteins, and bake will leave you with plenty of healthy options to make meals throughout the week.

Check out this beginner’s food prep guide by Lindsay at The Lean Green Bean.

3. Set an off-season body composition goal: maintain, lose, or gain weight without sacrificing performance.

Summer is the off-season for many athletes, so many use this time as a vacation from their training and their  normal healthy diets, leaving them feeling a little sluggish and/or heavy once training starts up again.

The off-season should be a time for rest and recovery, but it’s also a good time to make body composition goals without sacrificing training. Even those who just want to maintain weight shouldn’t use the summer as an excuse to eat whatever they want, as a decrease in activity and an increase in food can result in unwanted weight gain.

Follow these offseason fueling tips for maintaining weight or making body composition changes, such as adding lean mass or losing weight, during the summer:

Maintaining weight

  • Less activity in the summer means you don’t need as many calories or carbohydrates during this summer to reduce weight gain:
    • Reduce carbohydrates on off days, and eat a higher carbohydrate diet on high intensity days.
    • Decrease portion sizes, especially from desserts, fast foods, creamy sauces and salad dressings
    • Hydrate with water instead of juice or sports drinks

Weight Gain

  • Gaining 0.5 to 1 pound per week is a realistic goal.
  • You add lean mass by increasing calories and providing an adequate training load, meaning you should have a plan to strength train throughout the summer.
  • Eat often throughout the day (every 2-3 hours)
  • Add calorie-dense foods, such as nuts, trail mix, peanut butter, granola, olive oil, avocado, full fat dairy and include beverages with calories, such as milk during meals to add calories to your day.

Weight loss

  • Losing 1-2 pounds per week is a realistic goal.
  • Including protein-rich foods (20-30 grams per meal through lean meat, eggs, Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, beans) is a good way to stay satisfied throughout the day and maintain lean muscle mass
  • Avoid refined carbohydrates and sugary drinks like sports drinks, soda and juice
  • Don’t skip meals to cut calories – instead, front load your diet by eating a substantial breakfast, lunch and snacks during the day when you’re most active vs. limiting calories during the day. You may get over-hungry by the end of the day and end up eating more at night than if you stayed satisfied by fueling yourself throughout the day.

Meeting with a dietitian can help you meet your body composition goals, make a plan for during the season, brainstorm food prep ideas, and perform better during the season.

Make an appointment to speak with a Sports Dietitian today by calling the Sanford Sports Science Institute Dietitian at 605-312-7878