Tuesday 4 December 2012

High Performance Nutrition for the Busy Person

These days, people seem to be busier than ever! Currently, I am in one of the busiest seasons of my life (hence the lack of blog posts). Thankfully, I love what I do, but being this busy and trying to eat well can be a real challenge. I thought I would share how I tackle this challenge in hopes of giving you some ideas.

Change my perspective

Not the way to make it
through the busy times
Most people do the opposite of what they should do - they drop healthy eating when they get busy and try to survive on sugar and "energy" drinks. My perspective is that when I'm very busy, I'm too busy NOT to eat well. Now, more than ever my body needs to be properly fueled to maximize energy levels and productivity while minimizing my risk of illness. I can't get sick right now. If I invest the time in healthy food preparation and take care of your body and it will help me get through this time.

Make sacrifices 
Ask yourself this important question, "what I am willing to give up for my health, performance and body composition?" For most people, sacrificing a little evening TV time is all it takes to prepare some high performance meals for the following day. I can live with not knowing who won the latest Survivor show (is that show still running?). 

Meal preparation
Tasted better than it looks
2-3 evenings a week, I'll prepare some meals for the week. See my post on Meal Prep 101 for more details. When I'm really busy, I go for something easy to cook while making dinner or cleaning the kitchen. One of my go-to meals when I'm in a hurry is baked chicken breast, baked yams and steamed veggies. I want to avoid a meal that requires standing over the stove and continually stirring food or a large number of ingredients. The chicken breasts and yams can be placed in the oven and forgotten about until the timer goes off. Veggies can be quickly steamed, tossed into a container, dressed with olive oil and seasoned to taste. For extra calories and nutrients I'll add an orange and small handful of walnuts to this meal.

Use power shakes 
For hectic times, I pre-blend a double-batch power shake the night before. I keep these in the fridge in a seal container and bring them to work the next day. This gives me two complete meals - instant, high performance nutrition when I don't have time to sit down and chew food! For more information on a template for a power shake, check out this post on Power Shakes for Fast, High Performance Nutrition.

Power Breakfast
I start the day with a power breakfast by getting up early enough to cook breakfast before I leave the house. Veggie eggs with fruit and whole grain toast is my go-to option when I'm in a hurry as it is fast to prepare and fast to eat. I put some coconut oil in a cast-iron pan and add onions, tomatoes and spinach (you can skip the onions if you will be working closely with people). Once the veggies are ready, I'll add eggs. During this time I'll toast a few pieces of sprouted grain toast. I use olive oil to dip the toast in for a healthier fat and to save the buttering time. While this is cooking, I'll eat an apple. 

Work Meals
During the busy day, I'll have one whole food meal at work (as described above). To maximize efficiency, I'll usually watch a professional development training DVD or time my lunch during a department meeting. The other two meals at work are the power shakes which I can slam back on the go. 

Since I'm gone in the morning before the family wakes up, I try to eat dinner at home with wife and daughters as much as possible. Therefore this meal is usually taken care of. It will include meat, vegetables and good carbs as needed. If I am working in evening and not able to sneak home for dinner, I'll prepare an extra meal (similar to what I described previously) or if available bring leftovers from a previous dinner. 

In Conclusion
Life for most people is busy. Planning and preparation makes high-performance nutrition principles work in the real world. Please don't blindly follow my meal plan as it may not be appropriate for your needs/goals/body type. However, hopefully it gives you some ideas that you can apply to help you with this busy time of year.

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