Nutrition and Training During COVID-19, by Susan Kitchen, MPH, RD, CSSD

Nutrition and Training During COVID-19, by Susan Kitchen, MPH, RD, CSSD

Just a few days ago, Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, announced that, “the next two weeks are extraordinarily important. This is the time to avoid shopping at the grocery store and pharmacy and do everything you can to keep your family and your friends safe.


Since we are three weeks into the national quarantine, we are being forced to be creative in making a meal with what’s left in the pantry.

Non-perishables such as canned beans, soup, nut butter, frozen fruit, veggies, frozen meat, and toilet paper were the first to go from grocery shelves. Some of the basics are back in stock – but good luck with the toilet paper.

Now that we are to limit our grocery shopping, creating meals with the food in your pantry may fill your stomach, but is it nutritionally sound, and does it meet your body’s needs?


All athletes near and far, share one universal concern: “will my race be canceled?”


While some may lose their mojo, others dig deep and thrive on sticking to their training plan since it is therapeutic and brings stability and normalcy to the days. Additionally, working from home or being out of work allows more time for training, getting adequate sleep and recovery.

If you are smart, you’re making the most of your time by establishing healthy lifestyle habits, such as better sleep, consistent and mindful training, cleaning up the diet, yoga, meditation and foam rolling/mobility– just to name a few since lack of time is no longer a good excuse. *If you are a health care worker, in food production or sales or facilitating PPE availability, you are busy. We thank you for your service and for putting your health on the line for others.

Regardless of the disruption to your race season, take a moment to consider WHY you train/race in the first place. Certainly, we don’t train just to cross finish lines or collect shiny metals, right? No. We train for ourselves, for our physical and mental health, and to better ourselves each day. The resilience and grit acquired through training evolves and matures as we put in the time season after season. It is this resilience, grit, and perseverance that sustains us in rain and shine – and during the COVID-19 pandemic. So, stay true to yourself and stick with your training, nutrition, and recovery fueling even though the finish line has changed.


It’s essential to include a mix of carbohydrates, protein, and healthy fats at meals/snacks. Don’t worry if you are running low, there’s no need to risk making a trip to the store. I have a solution and one that will serve you well not only during this quarantine but also for years to come.

To ensure you always have protein/carbohydrate on hand without compromising quality nutrition, stock up on Cocoa Elite’s Whey Protein and Complete Body Protein.

Both of these products contain the BCAA, leucine, the key stimulus of muscle protein synthesis. In addition, for non-animal eaters, there are  vegan options.

What sets Cocoa Elite apart from other products?  


First, not all chocolate is healthy. Cocoa Elite preserves the cocoa flavanol component of the cocoa bean. Cocoa flavanols are what make chocolate so good for you. Secondly, Cocoa Elite products are not registered as a supplement, but instead are a food that has a patented formulation of superior cocoa powder providing 400 mg of cocoa flavanols per serving. This high flavanol cocoa contains the appropriate carb/protein ratio for recovery fuel post-workout.  In addition you can mix the whey protein with your choice of carbohydrate for a recovery snack or meal.

Finally, there is no need to worry about this product perishing during our quarantine. But I can’t promise you won’t run low especially when your housemates or family members taste the cocoa deliciousness.

If you do make it to the store, here is a list of ready to eat, non-perishable and refrigerated protein foods to keep on hand to ensure you are getting the protein your body needs.

Ready to eat protein foods:    

  • Canned salmon, tuna, sardines, chicken
  • Nut butter
  • Nuts
  • Dried beans
  • Canned lentils,
  • Canned beans (garbanzo, kidney, black, refried, white, pinto, black-eyed)

Refrigerated/frozen protein foods:

  • Tofu
  • Cooked/uncooked meat
  • Cheese
  • Deli meat
  • Milk, yogurt, cottage cheese

Susan Kitchen, MS, RD, CSSD Susan Kitchen has a Master’s in Public Health and Nutrition. She is a registered and licensed dietitian and a certified sports dietitian. Susan is a USA Triathlon Level II endurance coach and an IRONMAN Certified Coach. Susan is also on the United States Olympic Committee sports dietitian registry.

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