Off seasons for many athletes are over the winter and through the holiday season when comfort foods and favorite holiday foods are everywhere. But even if your off season is over the summer, athletes tend to be a bit more relaxed with their training and off season nutrition during this time.
It may be tempting to relax on your nutrition plan through the off season, but there are a few reasons you may want to keep avoiding processed and high sugar foods through every season. Avoiding or reducing your exposure to certain foods like wheat, dairy, sugar and highly processed foods is ideal during training season because it helps to reduce inflammation seen as swelling, joint aches, muscle pains and it also encourages a healthy gut.
However, through the off-season athletes tend to get a bit more relaxed with their nutrition. Whether your off season is through the winter or over the summer, keeping up with your nutrition can keep you feeling healthy and fit all year long. Plus, getting back into training season will be easier, too.
Don’t forget about your immune system:
Here’s how: did you know your immune system relies on a healthy gut? In fact, around 60% of your immune system is surrounding your small and large intestine! Eating sugar, dairy, wheat and processed foods can upset your digestive system and lead to issues with the immune system. Also, if you are eating foods that you are sensitive to, this can lead to an unhappy immune system as well.
When the gut and immune system are struggling, this can lead to getting the cold and flu more often. One of the most common causes that takes athletes out of training. It can also lead to more overall systemic symptoms and inflammation like: headaches, migraines, brain fog, swelling, joint pain, achy muscles and even more serious health conditions if allowed to persist for too long.
Watch for toxins and infections
In addition, both during training and competition season and off season – it’s important to watch for exposure to toxins. Low grade infections can also lead to an overactive immune system. An imbalance with your gut bacteria, the presence of candida overgrowth in the gut and body, or “bugs” in the stomach that aren’t supposed to be there are examples where low-grade infections could be causing your immune system to be on constant “high alert”.
Many patients and athletes also aren’t paying attention to their toxic load. We are exposed through chemicals in products we put on our skin, pesticides through food, products we clean our homes with, the water we drink and air we breathe. Identifying just a few places you can reduce your toxin exposure can improve your overall health and energy levels.
5 Tips to a Healthy and Fit Body Through the Off Season:
- Load up on greens and vegetables. Foods like broccoli, kale and brussel sprouts can reduce your risk of cancer and help support a healthy body, gut and immune system.
- Avoid sugar, gluten and foods containing highly processed wheat. Look for whole grains when possible, and check labels for hidden sugars. Going through an elimination food plan can also help with identifying foods that could be causing unwanted digestion upset and other symptoms.
- Reduce indigestion by paying attention to food combining. Fruits digest differently than protein and starchy carbohydrates. Try eating fruits and starchy carbohydrates for snacks and eating protein, fat and vegetables at main meals.
- Fill in any nutrition gaps with a quality multi-vitamin and mineral, omega-3’s, vitamin D, and digestive enzymes.
- Consider taking a whole-body Functional Medicine approach to your health and training nutrition program. Focus on eating the right foods, identify if you have any underlying infections, address gut health, balance hormones, reduce stress and evaluate for overall toxin exposure.
You can have a positive effect on your immune system, training and overall well-being by following these simple tips to maximize the time you are spending training even through the off season.
Now It’s Your Turn!
What is one step you will take or have taken to keep your body fit in your off season? Share in the comments!