The Internet is awash with challenges. From J.Lo and A-Rod’s 10-day “zero carbs” challenge (not dietitian-approved and not a good idea for active swimmers unless you are looking to bonk in the pool), to charity-inspired money raising challenges (like the ice bucket challenge to raise awareness for ALS).
This summer, take the challenge fever in a positive direction and challenge yourself or your teammates to adopt healthy habits to enhance your swimming performance and set yourself up for good health in the years to come. Maybe coaches could set a nutrition challenge for their teams, too.
Challenge #1: Eat breakfast within an hour of waking up. The breakfast should contain a grain food, a fruit, a protein-rich food, and a healthy fat. Here are five sample breakfasts to get you started on the breakfast challenge.
- Scrambled egg, sliced avocado, and mango salsa wrapped in a whole wheat tortilla
- Oatmeal with fresh blueberries and chopped walnuts
- Vanilla Greek yogurt fruit parfait topped with chopped pecans
- Homemade Egg McMuffin: toasted English muffin with a fried egg, a slice of cheese, lean ham, and a glass of orange juice
- Toasted everything bagel topped with cream cheese and smoked salmon and a thick tomato slice (botanically, tomato is a fruit).
Challenge #2: Replace empty-calorie snacks with nutrient-rich snacks.
- Instead of pretzels and a soft drink, try pretzel thins and hummus.
- Instead of a candy bar, substitute a nut and seed-containing energy bar.
- Instead of soft drinks, try fruit juice mixed with sparkling water or club soda.
- Ditch the chips and cheese dip; instead, toast whole grain pita bread rounds and cut into wedges to dip with salsa.
Challenge #3: Try one new food every other day. Break out of the chicken nuggets, fries, and pizza rut!
- Try a new fruit; summer is perfect time to expand your taste buds by tasting new varieties of apples, melons, or berries. And, if bananas are your go-to tropical fruit, try mango or papaya.
- Roasting or grilling vegetables is a great way to enhance their flavor and you might just like cauliflower, broccoli rabe, or asparagus cooked this way.
- If you like edamame, try more soy options like a tofu noodle bowl or “chicken” patties made from soy.
Happy challenges this summer!