Adding More Fuel to your Day

Photo of a pear and a packet of almond butter on a white plate

You know you need to eat more to reach your energy and performance goals. Each day you try to “add more” but what does that really mean? A larger piece of meat at dinner? Two dinners? An extra snack? A smoothie? It’s hard to eat more, especially when your appetite just isn’t there.

You might say, “Why might you even need to eat more with no appetite?” or “Shouldn’t I be listening to my hunger and fullness cues?”. While that is mostly true, there is a type of hunger called Practical Hunger. Practical hunger is when you plan ahead for hunger OR you need fuel more because your energy needs are increased related to a sport you play. Maybe you aren’t hungry in that very moment but you know you will be busy during an actual moment of hunger. Or perhaps your appetite is suppressed related to the activity or sport you are taking part in and you know you still need to fuel before-during- and/or after that practice or event.

Adding an extra 1000 calories in all at once is likely to leave you feeling bloated, over-stuffed, and less likely to continue to aim for that fueling goal because it left you feeling miserable! So how do you add more fuel to your day without feeling bloated or overly full? Here are a few tips to get started!

Add to what you are already eating. Start with 100 calories here or there by adding on calorie dense items to meals you ALREADY eat. What does that look like? Calorie dense options include things like healthy fats: avocado, nuts, seeds, oils, cheeses.

  • Try adding a few slices of avocado or a slice or two of extra cheese to your sandwich, wrap, or salad.
  • Add-in a tablespoon or two of flax or chia seeds, cottage cheese, or peanut butter to your next smoothie or oatmeal bowl.
  • Add-in extra olive oil when you roast vegetables or make a salad dressing using olive oil.
  • Create a trail mix or top a salad with a handful of nuts or seeds such as walnuts or pumpkin seeds.

Add one new snack. Make it a goal to add one extra snack per day. Maybe its planned to your activity as a pre- or post- workout snack or something you choose between lunch and dinner (two meals that are often spread quite far from each other). Need ideas? Check out my instagram feed!

Make it readily available. Another thing that hinders us reaching our fueling goals or finding ourselves overly hungry when we are out and about is not having things readily available. Saying “I will add a post-workout snack in” is one thing, but how will you do it? There are many ways to go about it but having a solid plan and making items readily available is one way to do it. What does this mean?

  • Keep a snack in your gym bag, car, locker, desk- wherever you might need a snack!
  • Make it convenient by buying pre-packaged goods that need little-to-no prep such as a shelf-stable milk, a fruit or applesauce pouch, a bag of trail mix, a peanut butter pack with some crackers or a piece of fruit, or an oatmeal packet.

Don’t forget to take your new options for a test drive! Often we will select an item to use without giving it a test drive. This is especially important as an athlete! Selecting a snack  as a pre-, during, or post workout snack without testing it out can lead to feelings of bloating, fullness, or general discomfort during activity so make sure you test it out beforehand!! 

This is also a note to point out that not everything will work the first time you try it. You will have options that are a total flop and that is OK! In fact, totally normal. Just keep trying!

If you find you still require more fuel after adding in some extras or one extra snack, make sure you successfully incorporate the first snack or extra items before you add more in. You’ll find this is easier to digest (literally) and the habits will stick in the long run instead of being a temporary fix.

What questions do you have about fueling? Leave them in the comments!

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