You know the saying, “You are what you eat”? It’s meant to be taken figuratively, of course, but think about it: if you fuel your body with 85 octane, how can you expect to get 93 high-test performance? So when it comes to fueling my body with food, I’ve learned what leads to high performance for me.
I’ve been an endurance athlete for more than 12 years, and one constant I’ve noticed is that nearly all the top level athletes avoid fad diets and sketchy products. They all eat real foods—lots of carbohydrates, veggies, and fruit. They drink a little bit (sometimes) and have a little dessert (also sometimes). On the other hand, the athletes I’ve seen who go too extreme and try to stick to a restrictive diet seem to get injured and burn out.
I think eating real foods as much as possible is the way to go for performance and longevity—and eating real food and avoiding junk has been a habit of mine since childhood (I have my mom to thank for that). So while I’ve tried the Paleo diet, as well as limiting carbs, gluten, and lactose, none of that affected me positively. I think there’s a reason why humans have evolved to eat the food that we do.
Generally, I find that eating some “baseline” foods—things that make me feel great—on a consistent basis works best for me. Then I add to them based on how I’m feeling or my activity level. Variety is the spice of life, so having flexibility for other foods is important to me.
Here’s what a typical day of eating looks like for me.
I’ll typically have 4 eggs, with 2 pieces of toast and black coffee. I like ketchup on my eggs too. I follow that by drinking one serving of BeetElite. That gears me up for a 1-3 hour workout—usually running.
A really big smoothie (24-28 ounces) powers me through another workout—climbing, or yard work, a strength workout, or something else for a few hours.
Ryan Atkins’ Smoothie Recipe
-½ cup coconut milk
-10-20 grams of protein (I like “protein40”)
-½ cup spinach
-½ cup mixed berries (frozen)
-1 tsp of almond butter
-½ of an avocado
-¼ cup greek yogurt
-¼ cup pomegranate juice
Instructions: Blend and enjoy!
½ cup of Stoked oats Oatmeal
Some sort of veggies and meat. Here’s a favorite combo:
Take a 6 oz piece of salmon, rub with 1 tsp of avocado oil. add salt and pepper to taste, and cover in super thin slices of lemon. Wrap it up in tin foil and bake in a 350-degree oven for about 20 minutes.
-Spinach (1-3 cups)
-Arugula (1 cup)
-½ each red and yellow peppers
-¼ cup edamame beans
-¼ cup sliced carrots
-Goat cheese to preference (2-4 oz)
Cook 1 cup rice in chicken broth and add:
-dried cranberries (¼ cup)
-walnuts (¼ cup)
-green peas (¼ cup)
-salt and pepper to taste
-3 slices of smoked cheddar, broken up into little pieces