You may not be a University of Utah gymnast or a player in the National Football League, but weekend warriors can learn a few nutritional tricks from star athletes such as Stephanie McAllister and Bryan Kehl.
When McAllister has competitive matches, she eats an early breakfast so the food starts to metabolize and turns into fuel for her workout.
Her favorite food is a turkey sandwich on wheat bread with American cheese. She doesn't eat the whole sandwich at once. Instead, she consumes a little bit every hour to keep her energy level up. She also snacks on fruit.
"Since I am flipping my body through space, I have to monitor more what my body needs," McAllister says.
McAllister, a junior at the U., practices four days each week for a total of about 20 hours. On two days she does weight training, strength training and spinning, cardiovasular exercise that helps her heart.
It's easy to be disciplined about what she eats, McAllister says, as long as she prepares ahead of time. She even allows herself a few "cheat days" because she has learned not to deprive herself, as she admits she has a sweet tooth.
Kehl, a former Brigham Young University football star who now plays for the St. Louis Rams, trains for about two hours a day, six days a week. His workouts include running sprints and weight training. During the season he has regular practices and weight training at least four days a week.
Kehl, who lives in Salt Lake City during the off-season, eats six times a day three meals and three snacks. He says he's cautious about what he eats because he is always trying to put on "good" weight.
A typical day might start with five eggs with toast for breakfast, a turkey sandwich for lunch, and either steak, pasta or fish for dinner. His snacks vary: a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, fruit and nuts, celery with peanut butter or pita and hummus.
His best advice for the "weekend warrior" is to eat whole foods, such as nuts and fruits. "The easiest thing to do is identify what is in your diet that needs to be cut out, which is anything fried or processed," he said.
So what can we learn from these two athletes?
"Small frequent meals with a good balance of carbohydrates, proteins and fats at each meal is very important whether you are a top athlete or someone that works out on a regular basis," said Adrienne Aldous, a registered dietitian in Salt Lake City and owner of The Innovative Nutritionist. "This balance helps stabilize blood sugar levels so we don't overdo it. Lots of fluids are also very important, especially when working out."
Jennifer Burns is the cooking host on FOX13's "Live at 11" and author of the Cooking Delight cookbook.
'Fuel Up' fruit smoothie
1 cup of fresh strawberries or blueberries
1 cup of fresh bananas
1 cup of nonfat milk*
1 scoop protein powder
1/2 cup of water
1 cup of ice cubes
Add all ingredients into a blender. On high speed, blend all ingredients together for 30 seconds or until they are combined to a smooth consistency.
* Cranberry or apple juice can be substituted for the milk.
Servings • 2
Source: Jennifer Burns
Mushroom broccoli quisotto
2 tablespoons butter
2 cups chopped broccoli or asparagus, cut into 2-inch pieces
2 cups chopped white button mushrooms
1/2 cup diced white onion
1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic
1 cup quinoa
2 cups vegetable or chicken stock
Pinch of ground nutmeg
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/3 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste
Melt butter in a large saucepan. Add broccoli, mushrooms, onion and garlic. SautÃ© until tender, about 10 minutes, stirring frequently.
In a medium saucepan, combine quinoa, stock and nutmeg. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and cook until quinoa is completely tender, about 10 minutes. Turn off heat. Let the covered pan rest for 6 minutes on the burner to allow the quinoa to finishing cooking.
Add cooked quinoa to the broccoli and mushroom. Gently stir in parsley and parmesan cheese. Season with salt and pepper as needed. Serve immediately.
Servings • 4 to 6
Source: Quinoa 365: The Everyday Superfood, by Patricia Green and Carolyn Hemming
Spinach, tomato and basil egg scramble
2 tablespoons butter or cooking spray
1/2 red or white onion, diced
2 cups loosely packed spinach
1/4 cup milk, optional
1 large tomato, juiced and diced
1/4 cup basil, chopped
Salt and Pepper
8 thin slices of a small baguette (sourdough or any type), buttered
1/4 cup scallions, chopped
Heat oven to 400 degrees. In a skillet over medium heat, melt 1 tablespoon butter or coat pan with cooking spray.
SautÃ© the onion for 1 to 2 minutes or until translucent.
Add spinach and sautÃ© 1 to 2 additional minutes or until soft. In a mixing bowl add eggs, milk, tomato, and half the basil (save a couple tablespoons for garnish), salt and pepper.
Mix well while breaking down the egg yolks. Push the spinach and onion to the outer edges of the pan.
Melt the remaining butter or re-coat with cooking spray in the middle of the skillet and pour in the egg mixture. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes while stirring occasionally.
Place bread slices on a baking sheet and bake 2 to 3 minutes or until slightly golden. Remove from oven and butter each the slice.
To serve, place two pieces of bread on each plate and cover completely with the egg scramble. Sprinkle basil and scallions on top of each serving.
Options: Add bacon for additional flavor and more protein. Or add shredded cheese to the egg mixture toward the end of cooking or melt some cheese directly on the bread slices. Chives may be substituted for scallions.
Serving • 4
Source: Cooking Delight, by Jennifer Burns