Thursday, September 8, 2011

Practice Fuel: Quick and Easy Pre-Workout Foods

Have you ever enjoyed a meal of three pieces of stuffed-crust pizza, a beer and several fresh chocolate chip cookies before derby practice? If you have, you know that's a terrible idea. If not, don't try. Real life tip: I almost vomited on the rink. Don't be like me. I'll never do this again.

Food is fuel. We all know this but sometimes forget this. Commercials and marketing focus solely on taste and it's easy to lose sight of the fact that we need to feed our bodies good fuels that it can burn to let us skate harder and block better.

So what makes for a good pre-practice meal?

If you must have pizza: Croissant Pizza
This is smaller and lighter than what I'd end up indulging in if I let myself order in. Not ideal, but sometimes food desires are too strong to pass up entirely.

Craving Mexican: Vegan Lentil Tacos
Go light on the beans for your teammates' sake. Even if you're not vegetarian, lentils don't have the grease the hamburger does, so these tacos sit well on the stomach.

Better than Chinese takeout: Veggie Fried Rice
If you're going to eat Chinese anyway, make it yourself at home and save a lot of the oil that can only upset your tummy after skating 20 laps in four minutes. And if you make your own, you won't be tempted by crab rangoons.

Light snack: Banana granola bars
You can make these on a weekend and eat them pre-practice all week long. Of all the things I've made for gameday fuel, this is my favorite so far.

When it's cold outside: Sweet potato chili
Sweet potatoes are a godsend. This recipe is vegan and full of fruits, veggies and lean protein. It's so win-win, I'm calling this a Tiger Blood recipe. If the word "vegan" freaks you out, add some cooked ground turkey for extra protein.

Lunch before an early practice: Apple peanut butter cheddar sandwich
When I practice on Sunday mornings, I've been known to come home ravenous and make one of these for lunch. What you eat all the time affects your body, so this is always a good lunch.

For tofu lovers: Easy weeknight tofu dinner
Soy gives some people some "trouble"... That is, trouble similar to eating too many beans. If that's you, maybe don't make this pre-practice. But I love that it's pure protein and veggies. The recipe works with meat, too.

Worth cleaning the rice cooker for: Last-minute stir-fry

Veggies and brown rice for dinner? Filling and non-greasy. I love it.

In a pinch: Kashi frozen meals or an Amy's frozen burrito
As a rule, I try to avoid pre-packaged foods. But sometimes we're all so busy with work, workouts, families, pets, children and life in general that we just don't have time to cook. If you're all out of leftovers and need a meal, these are great. I try to keep one in my freezer at all times. Don't go to practice starving!

What's the pattern here? Go for some good low-fat protein. Lean chicken or beef works great. If you're vegetarian, lentils, black beans, nut butters and soy (tofu, seitan) will give you sufficient protein as well. I love non-fat Greek yogurt any time of day. Also, my purse and skate bag always have at least one pre-packaged natural high-protein low-sugar granola bar in it—when you're burning a lot of calories, you never know when you'll need one.

Add your favorite pre-practice food below!

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