Anyone who knows me knows that I eat one thing everyday - yogurt.
For the last three years, it’s been a cornerstone of my diet. I’ve tried so many combinations of fruit, granola, nut butters, you name it. I effectively have the yogurt parfait down to a science and it is my absolute pleasure to share this with you.
Plain Greek Yogurt
As a pescatarian athlete, I’m all about protein rich foods, and greek yogurt is hailed for being exactly that. It’s of course a source of calcium as well, and a probiotic. Probiotics are especially critical for maintaining gut health. I put in 175g of yogurt.
Another protein source. I enjoy adding this straight to the yogurt and mix until combined, but on top is good too. One study on almond consumption found that it “was associated with better nutrient intake, dietary adequacy, and diet quality.” I put in 15g of nut butter.
My granola has ranged from a mix of chopped nuts and seeds to the classic oat mixture with honey. You really can do whatever you’d like with this component - find a recipe, throw on some nuts, or even exclude it. Just don’t buy granola. They often put in way too much sugar.
My go-to is frozen wild blueberries. In addition to its low calorie count and high fibre content, these blueberries have significant anti-inflammatory effects which help reduce the risk of obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.
But you can experiment. Here's the list of fruit I include in order of frequency:
- Frozen wild blueberries
- Defrosted/fresh strawberries
- Fresh/frozen raspberries
- Fresh Banana
- Regular Blueberries
- Fresh Peaches
- Fresh Blackberries
This is where it gets exciting. I usually pick two from this list for every bowl:
- Cacao nibs
- Hemp seeds
- Almond slices
- Ground flaxseed
- Chopped brazil nuts
- Chopped walnuts
- Sunflower seeds
- Pumpkin seeds
- Chopped pecans
- Chopped cashews
- Chia seeds
- Pinch of cinnamon
- A tablespoon of whey protein
- Raw oats
- Cashew butter
- Almond butter
- Hazelnut butter
I've had this at every conceivable point in the day. One time it was my dinner and I added some extra toppings. More commonly, though, this is either a pre or post workout snack.
Before a workout, particularly a high-intensity one, you want to load up on carbohydrates, have some protein, and keep the fat to a minimum. The best combination I've found for this is:
Yogurt + Banana + Blueberries + Granola + Honey
After a workout, the goal is to help your body refuel, repair, rehydrate, and revitalise, so you're looking for carbs, protein, vitamins and minerals, and of course, water. In general, 70g of carbohydrate and 15g of protein is a good balance, but it depends on your sport and your BMI. In terms of vitamins, you'll want to hit the ABC trio. Here's my combination for this:
Yogurt + Sunflower seeds + Peaches + Strawberries + Granola
I reserve the use of toppings for when my yogurt is just a snack. Nut butters, nuts, seeds and cacao nibs are all pretty high in fats. Now, luckily they have the good kinds of fats you're looking for, but when it comes to workouts and training, fat doesn't do you much good.
The main takeaway with fat is that it slows digestion. The point of having a pre-workout meal is to use the food to go lift weights and climb mountains. Unless you eat a bigger meal hours before your exercise, keep the fat below 10g.
AFRC, R. F. (1989). Probiotics in man and animals. Journal of applied bacteriology, 66(5), 365-378.
Klimis-Zacas, D., Vendrame, S., & Kristo, A. S. (2016). Wild blueberries attenuate risk factors of the metabolic syndrome. Journal of Berry Research, 6(2), 225-236.
O’Neil, C. E., Nicklas, T. A., & Fulgoni III, V. L. (2016). Almond Consumption Is Associated with Better Nutrient Intake, Nutrient Adequacy, and Diet Quality in Adults: National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2001-2010. Food and Nutrition Sciences, 7(07), 504.