“The doctor of the future will no longer treat the human frame with drugs, but rather will cure and prevent disease with nutrition.” – Thomas Edison
As a high performance athlete, you mold your body into the optimal sport machine using research and appropriately timed and planned quality training sessions. However, pushing your body to the limits is only part of the story. With so much time and effort put into building this valuable machine, fuelling it inadequately would be missing out on a key opportunity to maximize your performance.
Your cells need fuel to keep you from getting injured, to recover and to reap the benefits that you worked so hard to achieve. For the average person, the timing and precision of nutrients is relatively unimportant, but for you, the refined athlete who is competing at a high level, the timing of that pre-workout snack or the composition of that recovery bar after your interval training could mean a boost in your performance.
Using appropriate nutritional strategies could not only help fuel you towards being a more successful athlete but could also help your immune system keep you healthy and improve your overall wellbeing. As an athlete, you have different nutritional needs than the average person. You need to fuel your body for the work it is about to do, sometimes multiple sessions per day! Throughout your day you want to make sure you are feeding your body high quality foods that are dense in nutrients, not just energy. Look for whole foods that are minimally processed and packaged. Eat real, healthy foods.
For athletes at the top of their game, there is not much that separates the top performers in the world. So consider this: with a healthy nutritional regimen, the intricacies of your nutritional periodization could allow your body to lift heavier, run faster and recover better in your sport.
Today's POWER-UP: Superfoods
"Superfoods" are a special class of food that offers only the very best nutrient density. I define Superfoods as foods with very high vitamin, mineral, nutrient and anti-oxidant levels that are also low in calories (think vegetables) or if not low in calories then powerfully health enhancing (such as fruit, nuts, avocado, and coconut).
You might think that as an athlete you don't have to worry about how many calories you eat. However, you need to optimize your nutrient-to-calorie ratio. The challenge is to remember that your health and performance depends on eating nutrient-dense foods, not energy-dense foods.
Examples of Superfoods:
· LEAFY GREENS: SWISS CHARD, KALE, MUSTARD/COLLARD GREENS, SPINACH, DANDELION, SEAWEED… THESE HAVE BY FAR THE HIGHEST ANTIOXIDANT DENSITY PER CALORIE. GREENS ARE ALSO PACKED WITH MINERALS LIKE CALCIUM, IODINE AND IRON, WHICH ARE GREAT FOR BONE STRENGTH, THYROID HEALTH AND ENERGY.
· SMALL FATTY FISH: SARDINES, PERCH, TILAPIA, SALMON, HERRING, ANCHOVIES… THE OMEGA 3 FATTY ACIDS IN FISH HELP WITH CIRCULATION, CONCENTRATION AND PAIN RELIEF. FISH IS ALSO A GREAT SOURCE OF PROTEIN AND CALCIUM. TO AVOID HEAVY METALS, AVOID LARGE FISH LIKE TUNA, SWORDFISH AND SHARK.
· LEGUMES: LENTILS, CHICKPEAS, BLACK/KIDNEY/NAVY/CANNELLINI BEANS… LEGUMES ARE THE LEAST EXPENSIVE PROTEIN SOURCE AND ARE PACKED WITH FIBRE AND B VITAMINS.
· BERRIES: BLUEBERRIES, BLACKBERRIES, CRANBERRIES, STRAWBERRIES, CHERRIES, GOJI/ACAI BERRIES… BERRIES ARE A SUPERFOOD FULL OF TISSUE-HEALING ANTIOXIDANTS AND FIBRE.
· ROOT VEGETABLES: GINGER, TURMERIC, GARLIC, ONIONS, SWEET POTATOES, RADISHES, BEETS…. THESE ARE DISEASE-FIGHTING, ENERGY-BOOSTING, PAIN-RELIEVING MIRACLE FOODS!
· SPROUTS: SPROUTS HAVE MORE ENZYMES, VITAMINS, MINERALS AND AMINO ACIDS THAN ALMOST ANY OTHER FOOD ON EARTH!
· CHIA SEEDS: A NUTRITIONAL ANALYSIS WAS DONE ON THESE TINY SEEDS AND IT TURNS OUT THEY ARE THE HIGHEST PLANT SOURCE OF OMEGA 3 FATTY ACIDS IN EXISTENCE WHICH MAKES THEM EXCELLENT FOR BRAIN AND HEART HEALTH.
· SPIRULINA: THIS NUTRITIONAL POWERHOUSE IS PACKED WITH MINERALS, INCLUDING ONE OF THE ONLY SOURCES OF THYROID BOOSTER, IODINE. 60% OF THIS GREEN POWDER IS PROTEIN BY WEIGHT (CONTAINING EVERY SINGLE ESSENTIAL AMINO ACID THAT HUMANS NEED). SPIRULINA ALSO CONTAINS FOUR TIMES AS MUCH VITAMIN B12 AS LIVER.
· POMEGRANATE SEEDS: RESEARCH HAS FOUND THAT IT CAN LOWER BLOOD PRESSURE AND REDUCE INFLAMMATION IN OUR BLOOD VESSELS.