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Healthy Pantry Staples for the Everyday Athlete

Working out, well training in general, is nothing without healthy, adequate amounts of proper fueling. As you know by now (you should, right?), start with healthy whole foods that don’t have a label or come in a package...a.k.a- whole foods...then make sure your pantry has a sufficient amount of these long shelf life foods that can compliment your healthy, whole food meals.

In this time of social distancing, the best part about all these pantry staples is that you can shop for them online or even have them delivered at regular intervals to keep you stocked. If you need to and can get out of the house, Costco has the best deals on most of these staples and since they have such an extended shelf life you can buy them in bulk!

CARBOHYDRATES

As we all know, carbohydrates are a primary and instant fuel for when you need energy. They are also the easiest macronutrient to store on a shelf. Therefore, carbohydrates should make up the bulk of kitchen staples for runners.

  • Oats

  • Dried Fruit

  • Pasta

  • Granola & Trail Mix

  • Maple Syrup and Honey

  • Sweet Potatoes and Potatoes

  • Baking Mix

Oats

One of the most energy packed dry goods that you must have in your pantry to fuel your workouts. Oats aren’t just for breakfast! Overnight oats can be a great pre-run snack or homemade oat bars can be taken anywhere and don’t need to be refrigerated. Use healthy fats and natural sweeteners, like honey, to not only save money on energy bars but to know that you're getting the healthiest ingredients possible. Full of complex carbohydrates, protein, vitamins, minerals, fiber, and iron to help with muscle recovery. Oats will help provide quick energy as well as long lasting energy.

Dried Fruit

Dried fruit can be very high in a sugar called fructose which is great when you're going for a run but be careful when you snack on them between workouts. Stick to the least sweet dried fruits for snacks and move towards the sweeter fruits right before, during or after a workout.

- Least sweet and lowest blood sugar response

  • Berries (cranberries, blueberries, strawberries, cherries)

  • Summer fruits (peaches, melons, apricots)

- Moderate sweetness and mild blood sugar response

  • Winter fruits (apple, pears, sweet citrus like oranges)

- Sweetest and highest blood sugar response

  • Tropical fruits (pineapple, mangoes, bananas,dates, raisins, figs)

Dried fruit is great because it can be bought in bulk and mixed in trail mix, yogurt, or just eaten by itself.

Pasta

Pasta is the most basic pantry staple for runners and my 13 year olds go to meal because it’s so easy to prepare. Mix in a bunch of frozen vegetables, top with olive oil and/or pasta sauce...boom an amazing meal in about 10 minutes. Don’t get stuck making the same old white flour pasta, it’s not that good for you and is devoid of nutrients. There are several pasta-alternatives that pack vitamins, minerals and protein like brown rice noodles, soba noodles, or you can even spiralize your own noodles out of squash or zucchini. Expand your pantry and your pallet.

Granola & Trail Mix

Possibly the best and definitely one of the easiest snacks for runners. You get the nutritional boost of oats, dried fruit, and healthy, inflammation-reducing unsaturated fats from nuts and seeds, however, I would stay away from the store bought versions because they are typically loaded with unhealthy oils not to mention they are extremely overpriced. You can make your own granola in less than 30 minutes, and your own trail mix from the bulk food aisle.

Maple Syrup and Honey

Maple syrup is a great carbohydrate and simple sugar source for runners, but another reason it’s on the pantry list for runners is because it also has micronutrients, like zinc, iron, manganese, potassium and calcium. Do yourself a favor and buy the real stuff, Pure Maple syrup, don’t settle for cheap fillers and additives. Honey makes a great sweetener for your granola or any food you want to naturally sweeten up!

Sweet Potatoes and Potatoes

A true whole food, they can last for weeks and are filled with complex carbs to help restore muscle glycogen after a tough workout. Sweet potatoes also contain beta carotene, an antioxidant and a precursor for Vitamin A, which can help with recovery and immunity. They are also a rich source of Vitamin C, iron and potassium.

Baking Mix Essential

I’m not a big fan of wheat or white flour because of their allergen and anti-nutrient properties. The health benefits in alternative flours like almond, coconut, and paleo flour mixes far outweigh traditional flours and they offer a lot more protein, fiber and vitamins. I would suggest learning to bake with them and even making your own baking mix that you can store in an airtight container.

PROTEIN

Ahh...the most satisfying and abundant macronutrient, Proten. In your pantry it’s difficult to keep just protein for long amounts of time. When it’s combined with a carb, it’s shelf life can be extended, like lentils or legumes. When your active this is a good thing, protein and carbs, so keeping these kitchen staples on hand will be a life saver.

  • Protein Powder

  • Canned fish (tuna, salmon, mackerel)

  • Meat jerky

  • Lentils & legumes

Protein Powder

Not just for a post workout drink, protein powders can be mixed with almond flour or coconut flour and make a delicious protein packed pancake. This is one of my favorite post workout meals with some almond butter and maple syrup!

Canned Fish: Salmon, Tuna, Mackerel, Sardines)

One of the quickest sources of protein and healthy fats plus they usually last at least a few months. When you need a quick snack or even a meal, just mix some tuna with olive oil based mayo and it goes on anything from crackers to bread.

Never tried canned salmon? You can cover up the taste and add some veggies by making them into salmon patties.

Have a delicious salad but need some protein? Sardines or canned mackerel are great additions to your salad.

Meat Jerky

Portable, compact, and full of excellent vitamins and minerals but you have to read all the ingredients. Avoid added sweeteners, preservatives, and binding agents...if you can’t pronounce it, don’t eat it. The easiest option is to find someone that hunts and makes their own jerky, then you know exactly what you are getting...but it’s really not that hard to make in your own oven jerky.

Lentils and Beans

Legumes (lentils and beans) represent ways to add plant-based protein to your lifestyle! Canned beans are certainly one of the pantry staples because they cook in minutes and can be added to anything (pasta, rice, salads, soups), however, when you plan accordingly pressure cooking your beans vastly improves their digestibility and nutrient availability.

FATS

  • Nut Butters

  • Extra Virgin Olive, Coconut, and Avocado Oils

  • Flax Seeds and Chia Seeds

Nut Butters

This is my go to topping for everything from plantain pancakes to crispy apple slices. If you want the health benefits of unsaturated fats (great for reducing inflammation after tough workouts), a little protein, and vitamins like magnesium and zinc, then stick to almond, pecan, walnut, or macadamia nuts.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Coconut Oil, and Avocado Oil

Avocado oil and coconut oil are great for high heat cooking and have beneficial fats that are hard to find in any other oil. E.V. Olive oil is great for homemade vinaigrette salad dressings and flavorings but isn’t stable to cook with because it oxidizes too easily. I keep these 3 around in large amounts and use them daily!

Flax Seeds and Chia Seeds

These are easy toppings for salads, oatmeal, yogurt, baked goods and more. Extra unsaturated fats, iron, calcium, protein and other micronutrients. Grinding flax seeds or buying ground flax seeds and soaking chia seeds (or adding them to a liquid) makes them more bioavailable so you get more nutrients out of them.

Well, there you have it. Those are some of my most-used pantry staples and what’s on my pantry list for the everyday athlete. All the highlighted dishes are recipes on our website so you can click on them to be linked there or go to www.nutrition1stcoaching.com/healthyrecipes.

What are your favorite pre/post workout pantry staples? Let us know in an email at Brant@nutrition1stcoaching.com and feel free to ask us questions if you have them. We love to talk about food and nutrition.

Happy Stocking and Online Shopping!

Coach Brant


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