Here are 5 foods that are not only healthy, but will also help boost sports performance in one way or another. Their benefits are backed both by science and experience.
There’s a new generation of pre workout supplements surfacing now that is based on beetroot concentrate, powder or liquid. Interesting stuff, I might check it out for myself and my athletes.
Beet juice has been shown to increase athletic output whilst simultaneously decreasing oxygen requirements! So more performance with less oxygen needs. That translates directly into the athletic arena!(1)
Raisins were more popular with endurance athletes than the fancy “sports-jelly beans” as a source of carbohydrates. They liked the taste better and raisins gave them the exact same energy boost as well.
I’d just be a little careful here: raisins have a pretty high G.I., so that’s something I’d definitely want my athletes to take after training, not before!
This cruciferous vegetable can prevent free radical damage induced by exercise.
Athletes who had eaten just 1 serving of watercress 2 hours before intense exercise had less oxidative stress and free-radical DNA damage after that training session than before they started!(2)
4) Nutritional Yeast
I wrote about this before and I can’t recommend it highly enough. Nutritional and brewer’s yeast is not only loaded with B vitamins, it also is a major source of Beta Glucans, a rather special soluble fiber that’s a very powerful immune modulator. In English: Beta Glucans boost your immune system maybe more than anything else.
They tested this on marathon runners, who frequently get respiratory tract infections after a race. After taking just a tsp of nutritional yeast, they cut the infection rates in half, AND the runners felt great!(3)
Barley apparently has more beta glucan than any other grain: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beta-glucan
Fruit is good, and berries are the best! Loaded with antioxidants, important vitamins and minerals, and bioflavonoids/phytochemicals that are strongly anti inflammatory! That’s always good news for anybody who’s training hard.
Not only healthy for you, berries can even reduce post workout/post practice muscle soreness… Some athletes use blueberries or tart cherries as their post workout carbohydrate source and report their recovery is much improved!(4)
To your Health,
1) Bailey SJ, Winyard P, Vanhatalo A, Blackwell JR, Dimenna FJ, Wilkerson DP, Tarr J, Benjamin N, Jones AM. Dietary nitrate supplementation reduces the O2 cost of low-intensity exercise and enhances tolerance to high-intensity exercise in humans. J Appl Physiol. 2009 Oct;107(4):1144-55. Epub 2009 Aug 6.
2) M. C. Fogarty, C. M. Hughes, G. Burke, J. C. Brown, G. W. Davison. Acute and chronic watercress supplementation attenuates exercise-induced peripheral mononuclear cell DNA damage and lipid peroxidation. Br J Nutr. 2013 109(2):293-301
3) K. C. Carpenter, W. L. Breslin, T. Davidson, A. Adams, B. K. McFarlin. Baker’s yeast β-glucan supplementation increases monocytes and cytokines post-exercise: Implications for infection risk? Br J Nutr. 2012 10:1-9
4) D. A. J. Connolly, M. P. McHugh, O. I. Padilla-Zakour, L. Carlson, S. P. Sayers. Efficacy of a tart cherry juice blend in preventing the symptoms of muscle damage. Br J Sports Med. 2006 40(8):679 – 683
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