Dan Staton, MS, PES, CrossFit Level II Coach
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As an avid bowhunter, I’m fortunate to spend weeks every year in the field. Like you, I have my day job that keeps me pretty busy. My job, however, enables me to interact with athletes from all walks of life. Our CrossFit training facility is where I call home when I’m not in the mountains. Our facilities host 100+ athletes everyday, and there isn’t a single day that goes by where proper nutrition isn’t preached. You can run, hike, and bike all you want, but the root of all preparation is proper fueling.
If you’re like me, you stay very busy throughout the day. Making time for proper fuel isn’t a simple task. Though difficult, it’s not impossible. For the bowhunting community, we’re not exactly notorious for being fitness fanatics, but we all can agree we want more out of our adventures. Better stamina means better hunting opportunities. With this in mind, I urge you to give your diet a second glance before you head out on your next big hunt.
Performance nutrition isn’t the most exciting of topics, however the type of fuel you put in your body plays a vital role in how you perform. I personally feel there’s a great deal of bad information out there to sift through, so to keep the facts short and sweet, here’s your playbook for better nutrition and better performance. That means longer, more effective hunts, and less time at base camp recovering. You want to pull that bow back on a trophy critter don’t you?
Play # 1: Protein is your body’s building blocks
As a rule of thumb, strive to eat your target body weight in grams of protein daily. For example, if you're a chubby 200 pounds and want to be a lean 180, then have 180 grams of protein a day. The same hold true if you're a skinny 150 pounds but want to be a muscular 180. The best complete protein sources out there are from animals: fish, turkey, chicken, venison, jerky, etc.
Play # 2: Go Paleo
Shop the perimeter of a grocery store. The foods there are real – meaning they will go bad if not consumed in due time. They don’t have a food label. For example, when’s the last time you picked up an apple and read it’s nutrition facts? They don’t have a label! Paleo is a type of diet that relies on good, old-fashioned food from the ground, trees, streams, and mountains. Paleo food means you can pick it off a tree, dig it out of the ground, fish it out of a stream, or hunt it down. Meats, nuts, seeds, some fruits, little starch, and no sugar… that’s the Paleo approach. If your food has an expiration date of 2013, then I say it’s not food.
Play # 3: Sabbath Preparation
Eating for performance equates to implementing proper prior planning. Clear out your old food inventory and make room for some performance fuel.
Grilled chicken: Preheat grill to medium before prepping chicken. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Spray the grill with nonstick cooking spray. Place chicken on the grill at a 45-degree angle for about two minutes. Turn over and repeat. At this point, chicken is not fully cooked. Finishing touches will be done on the day it's served.
Chili: Combine four sliced carrots, two tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and one diced onion into a large pot. Set over medium-high heat and stir for two minutes. Add two packages of ground turkey. Break up and cook through until meat is done. Add three seasoning packages, one can of diced tomatoes and one can of tomato puree. Stir in ingredients and turn heat to medium-low. Stir regularly for five to seven minutes, then mix in one can of black beans. Taste for seasoning. Add salt and pepper if needed. Cool chili in a flat pan and then place it in the refrigerator.
Roasted vegetables: Wash and cut five carrots and one small red potato. In a bowl, combine vegetables. Toss them with salt, pepper and a small amount of extra virgin olive oil. Place on a pan lined with tinfoil and nonstick cooking spray. Place in 450-degree oven for 20 minutes. Cool before placing vegetables in the refrigerator. Make sure you have the staples, and then pick up the items below to complete your recipes.
* 1 1/2 lbs. top sirloin steak
* 1 1/2 lbs. salmon
* 1 1/2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breast
* 1-2 packages of 93% fat-free ground turkey
* 1 rotisserie chicken
* 3 potatoes
* 2 packages frozen vegetables
* 1 lb. red potatoes
* 1 lb. carrots
* 1 onion
* 3 yams
* fruit of your choice
* 1 cucumber
* 1 package baby spinach
* 1 package romaine hearts
* Wasa/RyKrisp/AkMak crackers
* high-fiber sandwich bread
* high-fiber multi-grain tortillas
* 3 chili seasoning packets
* 1 can diced tomatoes
* 1 can tomato puree
* 1 can black beans
* extra virgin olive oil
* 1 container hummus
* baked chips
* baked Doritos
So as you can see, eating for performance is not that easy, but it is doable. Unless you’re an accomplished chef with a lot of time on your hands, it can be a pretty demanding task. But with great sacrifice comes great reward. You’ll feel unbelievably better once the proper fuel enters your body. Load your pack with the proper foods, and when you’re back at home, incorporate the items listed above into your nutrition lifestyle. The results will speak for themselves. This playbook isn’t for everyone, but as we all know, if it was easy everyone would do it. Get Serious, Get Fit!