In the first part of this, we talked about some essentials you need to have in your fridge if you want to be a well-fed athlete. Nutrition fuels recovery, recovery fuels performance. While veggies and fruit are great, protein is the single most important part of your diet. When I say protein, I almost exclusively refer to meat. When meat is not available, I turn to protein powder. Yes, I’m well aware that beans, quinoa, almonds and some cheeses have protein, but the quantities you need to eat just make it difficult to get the right amounts. It is not impossible, as there are certainly some great vegetarian athletes out there, but it’s hard. So, for our purposes, protein = meat.
In my fridge and freezer, at any given point (except during the photographing of the fridge, sorry!) is 2-3 lbs. pork shoulder, a few steaks, a few pounds of ground beef, a few pounds of chicken, and either shrimp, salmon or tilapia. Generally, I’ve found the meat at discount warehouse stores (Costco & Sam’s Club come to mind) are great quality and well-priced. You can certainly find cheaper meat, but at what price? Fillers and who knows what else? Red meat such as beef is great because it’s packed with iron, B-12, amino acids, Omega3s, and zinc, and contains fat (so important for athletes). It’s just a great source of protein in a diet.
Chicken, pork, and seafood, while also great, make up a smaller portion of my diet. They’re easy to cook, cheap, and packed with protein. Generally I buy the chicken and pork cuts with bones in and cook them in the slow cooker to save time and money. Can’t go wrong with something like Crockpot Carnitas.
I don’t think I need to preach too much about why meat is important: you can google and find a lot of sources that are more eloquent than I am. But know this: my diet is the biggest factor in my training, and my fridge reflects that. With the stray bag of shredded cheese or maybe a pecan pie or two, it is generally packed full of meat and veggies, complemented with milk and fruit. Follow that and your meals will naturally take on a healthier approach and a good balance of macronutrients. More to come on all of that.