We all know about carbs, protein, and fats, but there is a whole other set of nutrients that we can get from what we eat we especially need as athletes. Yes, take your vitamins and I would pay extra close attention to athlete specific vitamins such as Enduro Packs, and First Endurance Mlti V. These particular supplements give you more of what our bodies need as we break them down, and wait for them to recover every so we can perform our best. But what can us, as athletes do to boost our performance naturally with the foods we eat and what do we need to eat to keep our systems running at peak wattage?
Electrolytes are more than what you put in your drink. Other than hydration electrolytes metabolize nutrients and help with the fluidity of muscle movement. Ever get cramps while riding or running? You were probably low on electrolytes. In addition to the sports drink in your bottle add tomato, celery, coconut water, seaweed and bananas to your diet.
Antioxidants have been at the top of health trends for years now with companies pushing their expensive rare seed from deep inside the rainforest that will give you 300 percent of your daily needs. So yes it helps, a lot in fact but you need not buy into the next pyramid scheme to get the benefits. Regular berries like blueberries, raspberries, blackberries will do the trick. Also cherries and it’s extract (my personal favorite) green tea and pomegranate are among the tons of natural antioxidants you can find at your local store. Antioxidants aid in recovery and helps keep your immunity up, so you don’t get sick. The big thing you hear about is removing free radicals from your blood, primarily keeping the blood healthy and clean.
Calcium is in milk, and we have heard drink your milk for years. What does this calcium stuff do? Bone health, of course, as well as being involved in muscle function and preventing osteoporosis. Wait a second, you don’t have to start chugging the milk just yet, leafy greens, like kale and collards, and unhulled sesame seeds will do the trick too.
Alkaline Forming Foods are talked about in vegetarian circles a lot, but guess what they promote strong bones too. Eating more green veggies, seaweeds and algae will not only boost bone strength but will increase your energy. Sushi and kale here you come!
Omega3 and six fats are essential in heart health as well as reducing inflammation. That’s right reducing inflammation as in sore muscles! Eat more fatty fish, chia, flax and hemp seeds!
Iron consumption is less of a problem in men than women because men don’t tend to lose as much. Iron improves blood’s oxygen carrying ability and forms red blood cells. Hmm sounds like a magic substance that could help someone win a tour stage. Hold on to your rare steaks because you can also get iron from leafy greens, especially kale, sesame and pumpkin seeds.
A Raw Foods are a nutrition buzzword these days with every Beverly Hills housewife on a raw, paleo, or vegan diet. Eating raw foods is something we all do when we eat salads or snack. Raw foods have a higher nutrient value or more bang for your buck, and they help you digest the other food in your tummy. So keep snacking on raw carrots, nuts, fruit, and seeds.
Lastly but equally important are Phytonutrients. These reduce inflammation and lower your LDL cholesterol. Eat those curries because turmeric helps with inflammation! Tomato, chia seeds, and veggies are all packed with phytonutrients.
Wow, what a lot of information, wouldn’t it be nice if there were a recipe right here for you to try that has many of these elements? Oh, wait here you go.
Quick Veggie Ragu
1 jar organic pasta sauce that you like, no weird fillers please, homemade sauce is best.
1 head broccoli, chopped.
2 carrots peeled and chopped. Cheat and use chopped baby carrots.
1 Yellow squash, chopped
½ head kale, de-stemmed and chopped finely
1 package whole wheat pasta (sub out 2 zucchini cut into noodles if you are into that)
Salt and pepper to taste
• In a large pot heat salted water to a boil, while the water is heating chop all the veggies, keep separate.
• When the water is at a rolling boil, add the pasta and carrot. Broccoli too – if you like it soft. Set a timer for the directed amount of time for the pasta.
• In 2 min, add the broccoli, if you haven’t yet.
• When the pasta has 4 minutes left, add the remaining vegetables.
• When the pasta is done, you should test a piece, it may take a minute longer than directed, drain the whole thing.
• Return to the pan, add the sauce and stir. Season to taste.
• Serve with parmesan cheese
Reference: Brazier, B. (2011). Thrive Foods (2nd ed.). Cambridge, MA: Da Capo Press.