Going to the grocery store can sometimes be an overwhelming experience. As an athlete, it is not always easy to know the best options to properly fuel your body, aid in recovery, and maximize performance. New food products are marketed and introduced to the public daily that may actually be causing more harm than good to your body. I have decided to make it easier for you and go over the best options to choose while at the grocery store, department by department. As a sports dietitian, I often lead athletes through grocery store tours to help them be more efficient and budget-smart while grocery shopping.
Frozen fruit is always a great option for smoothies, oatmeal, and parfaits.
Frozen fruit is easy to store and can be kept for a long time.
If trying to save money, buying seasonal fruit is a great option.
Pre-cut fruits will be more expensive, however, they are more convenient and are great for when you are in a rush.
Purchasing the fruits that are on sale each time you visit the grocery store is a great way to ensure you are getting a variety of nutrients.
Apples, grapes, pears, pineapple, and bananas are all easy to eat on-the-go and, just like other fruits, all provide antioxidants and fiber.
Vegetables have numerous health benefits and should be consumed every day.
Buying you veggies pre-cut will save time and are great for meals such as stir-fries.
Good vegetable options for athletes include sweet potatoes, cauliflower, and mushrooms.
Sweet potatoes can be used in a variety of ways and are rich in iron, calcium, and fiber. They also provide anti-inflammatory benefits and are a great carb option.
Cauliflower is a great low calorie option that is high in fiber. It is a good substitute for white rice and can help with digestive health.
For those looking to cut down on meat consumption, mushrooms can be a good substitute for meat due to their texture and are also anti- inflammatory. They are also high in vitamin B and D and help with calcium absorption.
Look for “90% lean” and “sirloin” cuts.
Chicken breast and thighs are the best options. To help avoid extra fat, avoid eating the skin.
The best nutrients come from salmon, cod, and tuna.
It is high in both protein and calcium. It can be used as a substitute for sour cream and other sauces. It can be added to smoothies for added calcium and thickness. Greek yogurt is known as a great recovery food for athletes.
Chocolate milk is a good recovery snack for athletes and is a good source of carbs, protein, and electrolytes. The Fairlife brand is a good lactose free choice and is also high in protein. For non-dairy options, look for ones with at least 7g of protein per serving, ie pea-protein and soy-based options.
Cheese is a good source of vitamin A and B. It helps with rebuilding muscles after a workout. Cheese also helps with blood formation and healthy bones.
Choosing whole wheat options is always a good idea as they help lower blood pressure and support heart health. Whole wheat also contains more iron, selenium, folate, and B vitamins.
I have always been a fan of pastas made out of beans such as Banza chickpea pasta and Explore red lentil penne. They are great options that are both high in protein and gluten free.
When picking a cereal, it is good to go for a brand that has at least 5 grams of protein and 5 grams of fibers. The brand Kashi is typically a good option.
Oatmeal is a good source of carbs and fiber that can both lower cholesterol and help with blood sugar.
Overnight oats can be made ahead of time and eaten cold or warm the next morning.
It is important to pay attention to the sugar content when choosing different oatmeal’s and cereal.
Nuts can be a great snack options for athletes. They are full of healthy fats, fibre and protein.
I have always enjoyed using the bulk bins in stores to make my own trail mix. By doing this, you know exactly what is in it.
While fresh meals are usually the better option, frozen meals can be kept for a while and are very convenient.
Healthy Choice power bowls are designed by dietitians and are typically a better option over other brands as they have lower sodium and sugar contents.
Frontera has meals that are well balanced with whole-food ingredients.
The brand Kodiak Cakes offers frozen options that are high in protein.
Tyson offers a fully cooked grilled chicken. It is a lean protein and a great option for athletes.
Snacks are a great way for athletes to get the extra calories and nutrients they need.
A few good bar options include ProBar, Lara Bar, and Luna Bars.
Pro bars contain a lot of protein and are good after a workout. Lara Bars are made from all natural ingredients and so do not contain added sugars. They are also more budget friendly. Luna bars are gluten free, contain protein, fiber, and are great for giving you energy.
A few other good snacks to stock up on in the grocery store as an athlete include crackers and hummus, trail mix, and granola.
I have always enjoyed going to the grocery store and trying out new foods. There is nothing better than knowing you are buying the right foods to fuel your body and aid your performance. If you need more help meal planning or grocery shopping as an athlete, contact your local sports dietitian, Tristaca Curley, who can help tailor your plan to optimize performance.
This blog post was written by 3rd year dietetics student Cassidy Blackwin.