We are very excited to bring you another AMAZING blog from our resident nutrition guru, Ashley. Enjoy the below! Hi TRAINlete Readers! The Gypsy Dietitian (
www.ashleyharperevans.com) here again to talk nutrition with you athletes again! Last time we talked about the
importance of recovery nutrition and today we’re going to take a look at some of the foods athletes should be eating everyday.
With summer coming to an end, whether your season is about to kick of or is coming to an end, as an athlete it's important to fuel your body properly at all times in order to maximize training and performance. Whether your hoping to stand out and show off your hard off-season work or have ambitions to help lead your team to the play offs, adequate nutrition will help you reach your goals. Today I want to challenge you to think outside of the "protein shake, pasta, grilled chicken, and energy drink" athlete diet box. Here are 10 foods that every athlete should be including in his or her diet, regardless of the sport.
10 Foods Every Athlete Should Include in Their Diet
1. Berries: High in antioxidants, berries like blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, etc., all help your body fight exercise induced oxidation, free radicals and inflammation, thus improving recovery time. They also contain a high percentage of water, helping your body stay hydrated throughout your event.
- How to use them: Add frozen berries to your smoothies, eat them as a snack, add fresh berries to your pancakes, waffles, cereal, oatmeal or yogurt.
2. Coconut Water: A "natural sports drink," coconut water contains natural electrolytes (potassium, magnesium, sodium and chloride), which are lost in our sweat. This beverage will help you stay hydrated before, during or after an event.
- How to use it: Drink it straight or add it to smoothies to a thirst quencher with benefits.
3. Chia seeds: The very same ones from your childhood chia pet, these little seeds are rich in omega-3s, antioxidants and fiber, as well as calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, copper, iron, and zinc among many others. Chia seeds form a gel when added to water inside or outside of the body, therefore, they slow digestion and provide a steady stream of energy to sustain a long game or outing.
- How to use them: Add these seeds to smoothies, mix them in oatmeal, top them on cereal, sprinkle them over yogurt or in salads or even add them to your favorite baked goods.
4. Dates: An all natural candy, these bite-sized fruits are high in simple sugar, making them easily and quickly digested and absorbed by exhausted muscles following a hard workout. Not only that, they are also high in antioxidants, as well as potassium, calcium, magnesium, and many other vitamins and minerals, helping your body fight off exercise induced inflammation.
- How to use: Pop the whole or add them to smoothies, cereal, or trail mix for a tasty, nourishing treat!
5. Lemons: While regular exercise tends to balance out our body's pH (remember that cancer and other illnesses tend to survive in acidic conditions), excessive exercise, like that many athletes endure, can promote an acidic state as well. Although lemons are acidic outside of the body, inside of the body they actually help neutralize this exercise induced acidic state.
- How to use: Add lemon to your water, to smoothies or add lemon zest to your dishes for neutralizing effects.
6. Maca powder: During intense exercise your adrenal glands produce hormones to help you perform, and in doing so, this can drain you of your energy, leaving you feeling lethargic following your workout or game. This powder is extracted from a starchy tuber and can help the adrenal glands recover following an intense workout.
- How to use: Add maca powder to your smoothies or shakes or sprinkle it over granola, cereal or yogurt.
7. Spirulina: A freshwater algae found deep in the ocean, this dark green powder is a good source of chlorophyl which has been shown to increase the amount of oxygen in your blood, thus combating fatigue increasing your endurance and recovery. Spirulina is also a rich source of iron, calcium, vitamin A and vitamin C, as well as protein, all helpful in the recovery process.
- How to use: Add this powder to smoothies, juices, puddings, or homemade protein bars or take the powder in tablet form.
8. Beet root juice: This deep red juice is known to boost the nitric oxide in your body which helps relax your blood vessels and increases your blood flow to the muscles; therefore it can help increase the amount oxygen delivered to the muscles.
- How to use: Drink it straight or add it to smoothies.
9. Watermelon: A popular summertime treat, this fruit is high in citrulline, an amino acid that (similar to beet root juice), boosts your body's nitric oxide, as well as reduces lactic acid and ammonia build up in your muscles (both byproducts of intense exercise).
- How to use: Eat it as a fresh snack, blend it into your smoothies, or enjoy it as a dessert.
10. Bell Peppers: Bell peppers, which are high in vitamin C, can help block some of the exercise induced free radicals. This same vitamin C can also help with the growth and recovery of tissues following intense exercise.
- How to use: Add them to your breakfast omelet, add them to your sandwich or stir-fry them for dinner.
By incorporating even a few of these into your daily regimen, you will be greatly helping your body maximize it’s training and performance! My favorite place to get some of these is iHerb.com. It is an easy to navigate site will good prices and quick shipping. Good luck and good health! Ashley, RDN, LD The Gypsy Dietitian, LLC You can find Ashley at all of the following places: