What’s not to love about the summer? It’s the season of relaxed schedules and vacations, fresh seasonal produce, extra daylight, warm temperatures, BBQs, and pool parties. Although the fair season is perfect for lounging at the beach, attending a fair, or traveling, these activities bring their fair share of food temptations. For triathletes trying to reach or maintain body composition for racing, summer and all its indulgences can be one of the hardest times of year.
There are two main reasons our favorite training season can be so difficult.
Ruined routines: The perfect summer means no homework, no set bedtime or alarms, and no responsibilities. While every kid (and adult) deserves a break, motivation can slip quickly when we get out of our routine. Without structure stopping for milkshakes or salty French fries after a hot day at the pool or staying up late for a movie or outdoor concert can push your decisions toward the not-so-smart. Schedules may be boring, but they do keep you disciplined and accountable to your goals.
When our schedule is more fluid, it’s also easier to fall into a pattern of making excuses. We don’t have enough time, our family doesn’t like healthy foods, social settings tempt us—the list of reasons is as long as the days themselves.
→ Beat it: For an all-day excursion at the pool, park or beach, pack an ice-cold cooler with healthy, make-ahead meals like pasta salads, sandwiches, hummus, chopped veggies, trail mix, sliced fruit and yogurt in order to resist the vendor/fast food temptations, while keeping your body energized and nourished.
Appetite anarchy: Heat can have a dramatic effect on appetite. Whereas cool temperatures tend to increase appetite, hot temperatures zap your desire to eat. The human body encounters great thermal stress in the summer, and looks to methods for keeping the body cool. Dehydration, more a reality in the summer months, also contributes to a loss of appetite, as well as headaches and nausea, which also decrease the desire to eat.
→ Beat it: Don’t let yourself get to a ravenous state. When you’re hungry, your cravings guide your food choices. Look for high-protein foods (one of my favorites are Explore Cuisine’s creative line of high-protein pastas) which will keep you feeling satiated longer.
Below are three of my favorite easy swaps you can make so that summer better serves your training and racing goals. Following are two of our favorite high-protein recipes from our friends at Explore Cuisine.
3 Simple Swaps
From take-out to fresh produce: Take advantage of fresh, local produce at the grocery store, farmer’s market, or CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program. Select seasonal summer fruits like watermelon, berries, oranges, corn, peppers, cucumber, eggplant, leafy greens and tomatoes as they are in their prime, bursting with flavor and packed with nutrients. Use fresh veggies in pasta dishes you can serve cold, like the 15-Minute High Protein Vegetable Lo Mein below.
From cooking in to grilling out: Pizza dough, corn on the cob, asparagus, pineapple, veggie and chicken/tofu kabobs. With a hint of smoke, grilling gives any food a bold and intense flavor versus stove-top or oven cooking. There are countless health benefits to grilling your food and the best part is that grilling gets you outdoors.
From ice cream to simpler sweets: Satisfy your sweet tooth and cool off with healthier alternatives to calorie-loaded smoothies and ice cream creations packed with sugary toppings. Consider a homemade fruit sorbet, chocolate dipped frozen bananas or yogurt popsicles as a healthy replacement to your daily dessert.