Are you an athlete looking to enhance your performance through proper nutrition? Well, you've come to the right place! In today's article, we explore the world of cookbooks specifically tailored for athletes. From mouthwatering recipes to expert advice, we'll uncover the best resources to fuel your body and optimize your athletic performance. So, let's dive right in!
The Importance of Nutrition for Athletes
Before we take a look at the cookbooks, let's take a moment to understand why nutrition plays a crucial role in an athlete's life (or anyone's life for that matter). Proper nutrition provides the foundation for optimal performance, aids in recovery, and supports overall well-being. A car that's low on oil doesn't run well. Similarly, a human body that gets the necessary macronutrients, micronutrients, and adequate calories can perform up to its potential. For more on sports nutrition, please see our article, where we cover the topic in detail.
So many people train really hard, but while their time in the gym is intensely scrutinized, they just kind of "wing it" when it comes to nutrition. If you can find a way to put the two together, you'll be surprised that this may very well be the missing link for you to take that next step as an athlete.
Finding the Perfect Cookbook
So, you want to eat healthier. Getting to that point is a good first step, but what's next? That's where investing in a good cookbook comes in.
When it comes to cookbooks, you're going to want something that includes foods you'll actually eat, fits the time limits you have for cooking, and helps you hit your nutrition goals. Big, elaborate, and sexy may catch your eye in the store, but short and simple typically wins the day.
I'm a big fan of a visually appealing cookbook with easy-to-follow recipes. After a long day at work or the gym, the last thing I want to stare at is an eye-chart full of ingredients.
Last, and I'll re-emphasize this: buy a cookbook that you will actually use. This isn't a prop to display on your kitchen counter for when your friends come over. You should be able to page through it and say to yourself, "I can make that." Better yet, "I'm excited to make that!"
With that, here are 5 cookbooks worth evaluating. If you're not on a Paleo or plant-based diet, I wouldn't recommend #'s 3 and 4.
"The Athlete's Palate Cookbook" by Yishane Lee
This cookbook is a treasure trove of recipes specifically designed for endurance athletes. Yishane Lee, a runner and experienced food writer, shares her expertise in crafting delicious meals that meet the unique nutritional needs of endurance athletes. With over 100 recipes, ranging from pre-workout breakfasts to post-training recovery meals, this cookbook is a must-have for anyone seeking to optimize their performance.
Testimonial: Alice N
Sport: Avid Cyclist
"I was thrilled to find recipes that fueled my rides while satisfying my taste buds. I definitely saw an uptick in my overall energy levels and enhanced endurance out on the bike."
Author Yishane Lee was on Good Morning America back in 2010 to discuss the book and provide some tips to GMA viewers:
"Run Fast. Cook Fast. Eat Slow" by Shalane Flanagan and Elyse Kopecky
Written by Olympic marathoner Shalane Flanagan and best friend, chef Elyse Kopecky, this cookbook is a delightful blend of practicality and flavor. It offers nourishing recipes that can be prepared quickly, perfect for those moments when you're craving a satisfying meal after an intense workout. With a focus on whole foods and a balance of macronutrients, this cookbook aims to keep athletes fueled, satisfied, and ready for your next training session.
Here is my favorite recipe from the cookbook:
Thai Quinoa Salad
1 c. quinoa, rinsed and drained
2 c. grated carrots (about 2 large)
2 c. thinly sliced purple cabbage
3 green onions, white and green parts sliced
1 c. packed mint leaves, chopped (cilantro works too)
1 c. packed basil leaves, chopped
1 jalapeño or serrano pepper, seeds removed, minced (optional)
1/2 c. roasted peanuts, chopped
1/4 c. extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 c. fresh lime juice (2 to 3 limes)
2 tbsp. soy sauce or tamari
2 tbsp. tablespoons honey (or maple syrup)
1 tbsp. tablespoon fish sauce (optional)
Here is a foolproof method to cook quinoa: In a medium saucepan over high heat, bring to a boil 1½ cups water and the quinoa. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes or until all the water has been absorbed. Transfer to a large salad bowl, fluff with a fork, and set aside to cool.
Meanwhile, put the olive oil, lime juice, soy sauce or tamari, honey, and fish sauce (if using) in a glass jar or bowl and stir to combine.
Once the quinoa is cool, add the carrots, cabbage, onion, mint, basil, and pepper (if using) to the bowl and toss to combine. Add the dressing and toss again. Taste and, if needed, add more fish sauce or soy sauce.
Top with the peanuts. Chill in the fridge for at least 1 hour or until ready to serve.
This salad will stay fresh in airtight glass containers in the fridge for up to 5 days.
Testimonial: Ben R
"I had struggled to find quick, yet nourishing meals. The cookbook's recipes provided me with the sustenance I needed to conquer training sessions, and I noticed quicker recovery times and increased performance on the track."
Flanagan talks about her nutrition journey and how the cookbook came to be:
"The Performance Paleo Cookbook for Athletes" by Stephanie Gaudreau
If you follow a paleo or grain-free diet and have a passion for sports, this cookbook is tailored just for you. Stephanie Gaudreau, a nutritional therapy practitioner and competitive weightlifter, offers a collection of nutrient-dense recipes that support athletic performance. From protein-packed breakfasts to post-workout recovery meals, this cookbook combines the principles of the paleo diet with the unique needs of athletes.
Testimonial: Sarah T
"I found this book because I wanted to eat paleo. By focusing on nutrient-dense meals, I experienced improved strength, stamina, and muscle recovery."
Gaudreau has a big following on YouTube and talks about both nutrition and strength training. Check out this interview where she talks about how incorporates Paleo into her daily lifestyle.
"The No Meat Athlete Cookbook" by Matt Frazier and Stepfanie Romine
At its core, "The No Meat Athlete Cookbook" embodies the belief that athletes can thrive on a plant-based diet. It dispels the myth that animal products are necessary for peak performance and offers a wide range of flavorful recipes to support athletes in their pursuit of excellence. The cookbook showcases the power of plants in providing essential nutrients, promoting recovery, and fueling athletic endeavors.
Testimonial: Alex C
"I checked this out to explore the benefits of a plant-based diet. The cookbook introduced me to innovative recipes that fueled my workouts and promoted muscle recovery. Overall, I feel like eating better has helped me gain strength, reduce inflammation, and be in better tune with my body."
Matt Frazier talks about his nutrition journey and how it became the jumping off point for his running career.
"The Healthy Meal Prep Cookbook" by Toby Amidor
Authored by Toby Amidor, a renowned nutrition expert, this cookbook is a comprehensive guide to planning, preparing, and enjoying delicious and nutritious meals in advance. I love it because the theme throughout is convenience, health, and culinary satisfaction. Meal prepping involves planning and preparing meals in advance, allowing individuals to have ready-to-eat or easy-to-assemble dishes throughout the week. This practice not only saves time but also ensures that nutritious meals are readily available, minimizing the temptation to indulge in unhealthy food choices.
Testimonial: Emily P
"By dedicating a few hours each week to meal prepping, I found myself enjoying wholesome meals at work, even with limited time. After a couple weeks, I noticed better energy levels, and I just felt healthier."
Hear more from author, Toby Amidor, in this video:
As we discussed in our sports nutrition article, so much of what we do is improved if you have a plan. It doesn't mean that you can never be spontaneous, but if you have a goal in mind, the best way to get there is to lay out what you're going to do.
Once I understood the basics of sports nutrition and put together a training plan, my next logical step was buying a cookbook. It just didn't make sense anymore to plan my workouts and then completely wing it when it came to food.
It takes 21 days to form a habit. But, that clock will never start without a little push in the beginning. My challenge to you today is this: buy a cookbook that fits your goals and dietary preferences. From there, just pick a recipe, any recipe, and make it. Hopefully, one meal will lead to two and so forth. Change happens slowly at first, but it will never happen if you don't take that first step. Give it a shot, and I guarantee that you'll be happy that you did.
For additional resources on sports nutrition, check out blog section here.
Also, be sure to check out our sections on sports psychology and sports science.
John Willkom is the author of Amazon best-selling basketball books: Walk-On Warrior and No Fear In The Arena. John is an avid reader, sports fan, and father to two incredible little girls.
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