I’ve heard it said that baby food is the perfect pre-workout and endurance food. That might not be too far off, if you take time to make the stuff yourself.
Let me take you back about 14 years. Around this time I wasn’t sleeping very well. My then 6-month old needed to feed every few hours, so proper rest never came easy. Work happened to be relentless at this time. I wasn’t eating enough. Worse still, because I was breast-feeding my child, I couldn’t rely on any sort of performance enhancing supplement to push me through to the gym.
One day before training I was desperately scouring around for fuel when I found two jars of organic baby food in my gym bag. I always had this stuff on hand, just in case I was stranded some place with a tiny, starving, inconsolable human being (not such a pleasant situation, as any parent knows). I cleaned out those jars with little hesitation, and managed to have a great training session.
It’s funny, but I now keep freshly made “baby food” in the freezer as a quick grab-and-go meal before training and during travel. Even more interesting, my Crosscutting husband and now 15-year old son love the stuff. It’s also real food, which means we’ve been able to drop the “performance enhancers” or energy cocktails.
There’s just no need for that stuff when you’re eating well.
For better training, get yourself a balanced fuel
After loads of experimenting we came up with the perfect blend of sweet potato and blueberry for this fresh and convenient energy pack. We add ingredients as we wish – Sometimes my son adds a drizzle of honey, and recently I’ve started to add soaked chia seeds to the mixture as well.
No food is perfect. If optimizing performance is your goal, then experiment. Find a combination of ingredients that fits your unique fueling needs.
Why chia seeds? To be honest, I was turned on to them after reading the excellent book, “Born to Run.” As a traditional fuel for endurance racing native cultures, these tiny seeds are loaded with nutrition, including a fair amount of fatty acids. They also appear to slow the conversion of complex carbohydrates into to sugar, and absorb up to 12x their weight in water. That last bit might allow your electrolyte balance to be maintained for longer, which is a very good thing during long, crushing WODs.
Soak them and see. They suck that water right up!
Eating this powerful little ingredient combo will give you an instant boost with a slow, consistent energy release that will last you at least an hour. Perfect for your next training session.
This also means that you won’t be desperate for a quick macronutrient fix after the work, so you can take the time to get a whole protein source into your body, like some boiled eggs or sliced chicken breast (yes, I carry that stuff with me too!). If you want the best result, you cannot beat whole. Save the protein powders for those who come to the gym hurried and unprepared.
A better kind of energy pack
This homemade energy pack is an amazing alternative to the expensive, low quality concoctions you will find on most store shelves. It also meets my core philosophy that whole food is just about always better.
Ingredients (makes 3 pouches):
- 2 medium sweet potatoes (about 200g ). Use 100% canned or whole, skinned baked potatoes.
- 2 tablespoons (20g) of soaked chia seeds. I soak them in water overnight.
- 2 tablespoons (20g) of blueberries (optional)
- a drizzle of honey (optional)
- pinch of salt to taste
Mix everything together (I know, very complicated!). Thin the mixture down with some coconut water if it’s too thick for your liking. Simply divide everything between 3 bags or freezer safe containers, then freeze.
Defrost and eat whenever you need a boost.
For those that prefer to bake your potatoes fresh, don’t ever waste those scooped sweet potato skins. Fry them up in coconut oil, then add some salt and curry powder. I bet that becomes one of your new favorite snacks.
Nutritional value per pouch:
- With blueberries but no honey
- Total calories per pouch (~ 84)
- Protein (~3g), carbs (~17.6g) and fat (Negligible. Save it for that steak dinner later on!)
I hope you enjoy these packs. I can’t promise training will always go the way you planned, but you’ll have all the fuel you need.
- Want more killer performance-recipe ideas? Don’t miss Virginia’s excellent blog, Moozlers.
- Need more help sorting out your nutrition and fueling? Make sure to check out the Faction Foods Nutrition Course HERE.
Why soak the chia seeds first? (Totally newbie question, but I’ve never heard of chia seeds)
Hi Joel. Chia seeds absorb a lot of water so if you eat them without soaking them, you need to be sure to drink lots otherwise you risk blockages. Not pleasant! A bit like eating a protein bar and not drinking any water. If you soak them first, then you get the benefit of the water they’ve already absorbed so they keep you hydrated longer. They turn into a gel when you soak them so they’re much easier to swallow too and your body can absorb them quicker.
You should try them. If you check my blog or facebook page, you’ll see that I add them to energy bars and protein bars too.
Let me know what you think. If nothing else, the sweet potato and blueberry on its own is a great pre workout snack.
As I’m the other half mentioned I’d just like to confirm that I’m not a crosscutter, or a crossdresser, but an avid crossfitter 😉 – Honest
I love the mashed sweet potato and chia seed mixture. I have been using this to fuel up before training sessions and Spartan races. Often, I fond adding a tablespoon of almond butter and a bit of Himalayan sea salt works well too, especially for long endurance training sessions.
Great to see someone else doing this Andrew! Interested to know how you carry/package yours?
Do you heat it up? Or does it taste nice cold. Not sure about sweet potato cold!
Hi Ali. We eat it cold. Adding the blueberries makes it fruity so it’s tasty. If you are going to warm it though, I’d just stick your pot or bag into some hot warm to take the chill off it. Hope it works for you!
Wow the blue berries and the sweet potatos are very tasty. The chia seeds are good and no flavor is noticed from them what so ever. I prepped 6 servings of this. I’m looking forward to eating all of them. Also where have these fried sweet potato skins been all my life? So good and my kids love them. Thanks for the recipies.