Runners are always on the move. Transitioning from social and family life, to work, to training, and back takes enough time within itself. There’s rarely extra time to waste in the daily life of a runner! Food shopping can not only be a mental strain but also a time strain. What to buy? Where to find it? What cuts and brands? How much to get? TOO MANY QUESTIONS!!! Let’s simplify things. Here are a few guides to help get you in and out of the grocery store quickly without sacrificing any of your proper nutritional needs.
Start where you don’t always want to be: PRODUCE
Shopping for produce is often a pain. It can be expensive, it’s not always the most enjoyable taste sensation but everyone knows how necessary fresh fruits and vegetables are to nutrition. Start your shopping trip in the produce section! You’ll be fresher (pun), won’t feel rushed and will be able to stock up on what’s necessary while you have plenty of room in your cart/basket.
Use the color key to make sure you’re buying what you need. Generally the more color you purchase the better. Hit the reds (beets, raspberries), greens (kale, avocado), blues/purples (blueberries, eggplant), and orange/yellows (mango, sweet potato) hard and throw in a bit of white (banana) for good measure
Don’t be fooled by the “easier” prep options. Pre-sliced, pre-seasoned, and bottled may seem like an easier way to notch up your nutrients but it’s safer to keep your purchases in their most natural form.
Pick things that are multi-use. Produce that can be stir-fried, whipped into a smoothie, eaten raw, or munched on in snack/desert form are going to be the best bang for your buck.
Invest in your body’s recovery and growth: MEAT
Protein serves as the macronutrient for muscle recovery and growth. While organic, protein-rich meats are going to cost you a bit more, they’re worth it. Defending yourself from any growth hormones is worth a bit more per pound. Focus on organic labels versus “free range.” An animal that is “free range” can roam freely outdoors but could also conceivably be injected with every hormone under the sun.
Stick to the natural cuts for poultry. Try and avoid the ground stuff since it may contain unnoticeable skin which returns the low-fat protein right back to its high-fat form. Skinless chicken thighs and turkey legs are your best bet for a meat-heavy, protein-rich, low-fat buy.
Pork & Beef are delicious and also protein packed, get a few lean cuts (90% or more) to add some variety to a poultry-laden diet
Fish is great! It’s rich in protein, vitamins and omega-3 fatty acids but be willing to splurge a bit for the wild caught versus farmed versions of your favorite scaled meal.
Fill the pantry with flexible food stuffs: BOXED, BAGGED & CANNED
The pantry tends to be packed full with your carbohydrates and fibers. No need to change this, but you can be sure to pack the cabinets with the type of flexible and healthy options that can make breakfast, lunch, and dinner ideal for building your workout energy stores.
Go after the 100% whole grains! Forget about the fancy multi-grains and whether it’s your pasta fix or your breakfast breads, wraps, and muffins, you can find a good whole grain option. These will generally contain 3-5 grams of fiber and less sugar and sodium per serving than other options without sacrificing your complex carbohydrates.
“Fat free” means that the space normally resigned for fat has to be replaced with something…what is it normally? SUGAR! Not nearly as helpful as a little fat for absorbing antioxidants and vitamins.
Go bulk with your seeds and nuts, you’ll save money and get high-quality ingredients. Brown rice, quinoa, pumpkin seeds and walnuts provide the best fiber, protein, vitamins, and fatty acids content for your body in an easy-to-consume form.
Learn to love the hot cereals. Between steel cut oatmeal, brown rice farina, and hot multigrain cereal, you can fill up, keep morning variety, and fuel up properly with easy-to-digest, fiber and protein-rich bowls.
Make it last: The FRIDGE & the FREEZER
Protein and calcium packed into your refrigerator in all forms will do the trick. Chocolate milk for a post-run snack, low-fat plain greek yogurt with some frozen berries (let them thaw in the yogurt), and the ever adaptable eggs!
Live a little! Buy the frozen pizzas (American Flatbread and Kashi brand thin crusts are GREAT!) and select deserts (especially the yogurt bars…so good!), all delicious, long lasting and still perfect for keeping your training on track!
Fast Trip Tips:
Eat before going to the grocery store to limit “impulse buys” and keep your trip quick and efficient.
Wear comfortable, athletic shoes…seriously, it makes a difference
Don’t be that person with a basket that is packed to the max and nearly impossible to carry, get a cart!
Pick your checkout aisle wisely. Loose produce, things priced by weight, alcohol, and obscure items take the longest to process as a cashier. Look to line up behind someone with canned goods and lots of cereal!