What you eat and when you eat are two factors that will have a strong affect on training and racing.
Nutrition can prevent the impact of a decreased appetite, increase energy, lead to quicker recovery, and overall better health and performance.
Improving your nutrition can improve your recovery leading to an overall stronger immune system, greater training response, fewer injuries and illnesses, and better focus.
1) Breakfast is important! Eating a QUALITY breakfast will help give you the fuel/energy before practice or a meet.
**Please try not to eat empty calories meaning limiting refined sugars/carbohydrates. Refined carbohydrates are anything in a package that has no expiration date like white flour, white sugar, white pasta, white rice, and high fructose corn syrup found in most candy, cookies, crackers, cakes, gel shots, soda, and other sweets.
Excess or regular intake of refined sugars leads to increased inflammation, slows recovery, decreases training response, and can lead to hormonal imbalances and even diabetes.
2) Lunch: Stay away from greasy foods, refined sugars, and DON'T TRY ANYTHING NEW on race day!
3) HYDRATION and fueling before and during workouts will increase blood glucose, delay fatigue, and replenish water and electrolytes lost in sweat.
A good indication of hydration is looking at the color of your urine. When you are hydrated, your urine should be hay colored or like lemonade. Some foods and vitamins can throw this off such as beets, medications, blackberries, and artificial food coloring. Vitamins and supplements can also make your urine a bright yellow color that can look like dehydration.
Drinking plain water can improve performance in endurance exercise, but there are further performance improvements when carbohydrate and electrolytes are added. Sodium should be included in fluids consumed during exercise lasting more than 2 hours, and is beneficial for aiding rehydration for anyone engaged in moderate activity.
Pure water is probably good enough for recreational athletes engaged in mild to moderate activity. Those doing intense training or those who sweat excessively, however, will need electrolytes in addition to water, and possibly even sodium tablets. Sodium is essential to avoid hyponatremia, a serious condition caused by a lack of salt in the blood, leading to water imbalance and water build-up in the brain. Therefore, sodium is one of the major electrolytes that is essential to include in a rehydration beverage following strenuous exercise.
There are many great natural alternatives to commercial sports drinks for replacing electrolytes during and after strenuous exercise. Bone broth is full of minerals such as calcium and magnesium, which can help with muscle contraction and relaxation, as well as amino acids for improved muscle and joint repair, making it a great choice for athletes. Coconut water has a good mix of electrolytes and simple sugars to aid in sports performance, though extra salt may need to be added to some brands that are lower in sodium to optimize rehydration.
Homemade sports drink recipes can be found around the web; a great one can be found on:http://wellnessmama.com/2575/natural-sports-drink-alternatives-recipe/
Fermented pickle or sauerkraut juice is another great way to boost hydration, especially for those who need the extra sodium and electrolytes. An added bonus of drinking these fermented juices is that they also contain probiotics to aid gut health. Even just adding a pinch of sea salt to your water bottle should be sufficient to aid in rehydration after a trip to the gym.
4) Post workout recovery snack within 20 minutes after exercising. This will jump start the recovery process primarily through carbohydrates going to your glycogen stores. Protein enhances this glycogen replacement and free fatty acids also go to your intra muscular fat stores. This process is vital for the next day's energy levels.
*Fruit, fruit juices, dry cereal, energy bars, peanut butter and honey sandwiches, trail mixes, oatmeal cookies, hard boiled eggs, baked potatoes
5) Post workout recovery meal (or Dinner): Should be within an hour of your last recovery snack. This is because more enzymes and receptors are stimulated for energy storage, muscle building, and immune system repair.
What Should You Eat?
CARBOHYDRATES are the best fuel for muscles because they are the most efficient fuel source of energy. Eating a diet high in carbohydrates promotes higher glycogen levels so you have more energy stores to train harder and compete better.
1) Simple sugars: glucose, sucrose, and others are quickly absorbed and utilized (pure energy) found in sugars in fruits and juices and have vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
2) Complex carbohydrates: starches found in bread, brown rice, cereals, oatmeal, vegetables, potatoes, pastas, quinoa. These large storage carbs have vitamins and minerals as well as dietary fiber.
FRUITS and VEGETABLES provide complete fuel for energy in addition to all the vitamins and minerals you need.
**Carbo-Loading: Should be done TWO days before the competition to maximize the benefit. If team pasta meal happens the night before the meet, DO NOT OVER EAT or try anything new because this could cause an over full or upset stomach on race day.
PROTEIN contains amino acids that the cells in our body use as building blocks to make and repair muscles, bones, blood, antibodies for your immune system, enzymes, and protein based hormones, and maintains healthy skin, hair, and nails.
*Signs to indicate you need more protein: muscle wasting, weight loss, fatigue and weakness, frequent infections, severe edema (fluid retention)
**Recent scientific evidence suggests that the timing of protein intake in relation to exercise is more important than the total quantity of protein consumed. Endurance athletes can enhance recovery by eating some protein along with carbohydrates immediately after exercise. Protein absorption is slow in comparison to carbohydrates so eating large amounts of protein at one time does not enhance recovery or improve strength and can even be hard on the kidneys. Smaller amounts of protein eaten more frequently is better. You need to consume an adequate amount of carbohydrates first for the protein to be fully utilized. Otherwise you will use protein for fuel which isn't as efficient as burning carbs for fuel. The protein then can be used to build muscle, critical strength, or strength endurance.
Protein: (About 52 grams for boys, 46 grams for girls)
Turkey, chicken, fish (tuna, salmon, halibut, snapper, flounder, sole, cod, tilapia), cheese (low-fat), lean beef and veal (low-fat), tofu, beans, eggs (especially egg whites), yogurt, milk (low-fat), soy milk, nuts and seeds (peanuts, almonds, pistachios, sunflower seeds, flaxseed), tempeh
World's Healthiest Foods rich in Protein (based on daily value %): chicken, turkey, tuna, salmon, halibut, lamb, soybeans, scallops, cod, beef (grass-fed)
***Excellent sources (based on daily value greater than or equal to 75% or density greater than or equal to 7.6 and DV greater than or equal to 10%): turkey, tuna, cod, shrimp
**Very good sources (based on DV greater than or equal to 50% or density greater than or equal to 3.4 and DV greater than or equal to 5%): chicken, salmon, halibut, lamb, soybeans, scallops, beef (grass-fed), sardines, tofu, spinach, swiss chard, mustard greens, asparagus
*Good sources (DV greater than or equal to 25% or density greater than or equal to 1.5 and DV greater than or equal to 2.5%): tempeh, lentils, dried peas, pinto beans, kidney beans, black beans, navy beans, lima beans, garbanzo beans, yogurt, spelt, pumpkin seeds, peanuts, green peas, cheese, eggs (pasture-raised), collard greens, cow's milk (grass-fed), brussels sprouts, broccoli, kale, crimini mushrooms, cauliflower, miso, shiitake mushrooms, soy sauce, green beans, turnip greens, tomatoes, summer squash
Vitamins and Minerals: Water soluble vitamins found in fruits and vegetables are essential for energy production. Antioxidant vitamins can help reduce free radical damage and supplementing with a multivitamin does not hurt.
**Two main minerals an athlete needs are IRON and CALCIUM. These two minerals compete with each other so taking them separately is the key.
1) Eat iron sources with an orange or other vitamin C sources or supplement.
2) Consistently consume calcium rich products or supplements 3-4 times daily.
Common nutrients that most athletes do not get enough of: Iron, potassium, calcium, magnesium, fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin E
Information and Food Sources for Nutrients:
IRON: (Around 11mg for boys and around 15mg for girls)
*Transports oxygen to tissues, supports proper metabolism for muscles and other active organs
**Consuming vitamin C together with iron can increase absorption (adding 50mg of vitamin C).
***Advanced deficiency of vitamin A can impair the ability to use iron to make red blood cells
****Copper is necessary to mobilize iron from storage for use in blood cells and other areas. Deficiency of copper may play a role in anemia.
Tempeh, soybeans, tofu, spinach, lentils, white beans, garbanzo beans, lima beans, navy beans, olives, swiss chard, mustard greens, collard greens, leeks, romaine lettuce, oregano, basil, black pepper, whole grains: quinoa, , fortified cereals, meat, eggs, sesame seeds, asparagus, thyme, cumin, turmeric, blackstrap molasses, clams, oysters, organ meats, pumpkin seeds
World's Healthiest Foods rich in Iron: Soybeans, lentils, spinach, tofu, sesame seeds, garbanzo beans, lima beans, olives, navy beans, swiss chard
***Excellent sources (based on daily value greater than or equal to 75% or density greater than or equal to 7.6 and DV greater than or equal to 10%): spinach, swiss chard, thyme, asparagus, cumin, turmeric
**Very good sources (based on DV greater than or equal to 50% or density greater than or equal to 3.4 and DV greater than or equal to 5%): tofu, blackstrap molasses, collard greens, leeks, oregano, black pepper, basil, turnip greens, mustard greens, romaine lettuce
*Good sources (DV greater than or equal to 25% or density greater than or equal to 1.5 and DV greater than or equal to 2.5%): soybeans, lentils, sesame seeds, garbanzo beans, lima beans, olives, navy beans, kidney beans, black beans, pinto beans, shrimp, scallops, pumpkin seeds, green peas, brussels sprouts, kale, beets, green beans, rosemary, dill, broccoli, fennel, sea vegetables, tomatoes, parsley, cauliflower
POTASSIUM: (About 4700mg for boys and girls)
*Maintains normal blood pressure and ensure strong kidney health
Sweet potato, yogurt, bananas, avocados, coconuts, kiwi, tomato paste, dried apricots, white beans, baked potatoes, spinach
World's Healthiest Foods rich in Potassium (based on daily value %): swiss chard, lima beans, potatoes, yam, soybeans, spinach, papaya, pinto beans, lentils, kidney beans
***Excellent sources: swiss chard, spinach, crimini mushrooms
**Very good sources: papaya, beets, cantaloupe, tomatoes, carrots, fennel, brussels sprouts, blackstrap molasses, cauliflower, kale, summer squash, turnip greens, broccoli, mustard greens, asparagus, shiitake mushrooms, celery, romaine lettuce, green beans, bell peppers, eggplant
*Good sources: lima beans, potatoes, yam, soybeans, pinto beans, lentils, kidney beans, dried peas, avocado, halibut, tuna, cod, yogurt, sweet potato, scallops, winter squash, banana, green peas, prunes, oranges, onions, kiwi, collard greens, strawberries, raspberries, grapefruit, grapes, watermelon, leeks, cucumber, cabbage, figs, turmeric, plum, basil, apricot
CALCIUM: (Around 1300mg but not more than 3000mg)
*Provides bone support and lower risk of poor bone integrity, helps maintain acid/alkaline balance in the blood, and supports muscle health
**Low levels of Vitamin D can impair absorption of calcium from the intestines and can impair the ability of the kidneys and bone to maintain normal circulating calcium levels.
***Calcium can compete with other minerals for absorption, most importantly magnesium, zinc and iron. A dietary intake of up to 1500mg per day does not seem to affect this interaction.
****Diets high in sodium increase loss of calcium in the urine.
Calcium-fortified foods/beverages, soy milk, rice milk, soybeans, calcium-set tofu, dairy products, dried figs, dried apricots, currants, oranges, tangerines, prunes, mulberries, kiwi, kumquats, medjool dates, almonds, brazil nuts, hazelnuts, sesame seeds, walnuts, chia seeds, sunflower seeds, almond butter, spinach, book choy, broccoli, arugula, collards, turnips, watercress, chinese cabbage, kale, celery, mustard greens, okra, figs, tahini, sardines, whitebait, salmon, chick peas, green/french beans, navy beans, baked beans, tempeh, blackstrap molasses, kelp
World's Healthiest foods rich in Calcium (based on daily value %): yogurt, tofu, sesame seeds, sardines, collard greens, spinach, cheese, turnip greens, cow's mild (grass-fed), scallops
***Excellent sources: tofu, collard greens, spinach, turnip greens, mustard greens
**Very good sources: yogurt, blackstrap molasses, swiss chard, kale, dill, basil, oregano, thyme, cinnamon
*Good sources: sesame seeds, sardines, cheese, cow's milk (grass-fed), scallops, leeks, oranges, broccoli, fennel, celery, cumin, green beans, brussels sprouts, sea vegetables, garlic, asparagus, romaine lettuce, rosemary, coriander, cabbage, cloves
MAGNESIUM: (Around 410 mg for boys, around 360 mg for girls)
*Creates and maintains bone integrity, enables energy production, maintains nervous system balance, better control of inflammation and blood sugar
**Magnesium is required in order for calcium to maintain an balanced role in the body's metabolism. Magnesium can compete with calcium and prevent calcium from triggering certain events, like the relay or a nerve message or the contraction of a muscle.
***Magnesium helps regulate the movement of potassium in and out of our cells.
Pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, flax seeds, brazil nuts, almonds, cashews, pine nuts, peanuts, pecans, walnuts, soybeans, halibut, mackerel, pollock, turbot, tuna, scallops, tempeh, white beans, french beans, black-eyed peas, kidney beans, chick peas, lentils, pinto beans, spinach, swiss chard, collard greens, turnip greens, green beans, kale, kelp, wheat germ, whole grains: brown rice, quinoa, millet, bulgar, buckwheat, wild rice, whole wheat pasta, barley, oats, avocados, bananas, coconut, blackberries, dried figs, dried apricots, dried prunes, dates, raisins, dark chocolate, blackstrap molasses
World's Healthiest Foods rich in Magnesium (based on daily value %): pumpkin seeds, spinach, swiss chard, soybeans, sesame seeds, halibut, black beans, sunflower seeds, cashews, almonds
***Excellent sources: spinach, swiss chard
**Very good sources: pumpkin seeds, halibut, collard greens, turnip greens, blackstrap molasses, green beans, sea vegetables, mustard greens
*Good sources: soybeans, sesame seeds, black beans, sunflower seeds, cashews, almonds, navy beans, spelt, tempeh, buckwheat, pinto beans, brown rice, quinoa, lima beans, millet, kidney beans, tuna, oats, scallops, rye, wheat, ground flax seeds, green peas, shrimp, tofu, beets, raspberries, winter squash, leeks, kale, brussels sprouts, tomatoes, summer squash, cantaloupe, broccoli, asparagus, strawberries, shiitake mushrooms, cauliflower, cumin, watermelon, mustard seeds, fennel, cucumber, romaine lettuce, basil, eggplant, celery, cloves, bell peppers, dill
FIBER: (About 38g for boys, 25g for girls)
*Supports bowel regularity, helps maintain normal cholesterol levels, helps maintain normal blood sugar levels and helps keep unwanted weight off
**Signs of deficiency: constipation, hemorrhoids if related to straining from constipation, high blood sugar levels, high cholesterol levels
***Excessive intake can cause fluid imbalance leading to dehydration, if increasing fiber, increase water intake
Oats and other whole grain cereals: barley, wheat, navy beans, dried peas, green peas, lentils, pinto beans, black beans, lima beans, garbanzo beans, kidney beans, soybeans, raspberries, oranges, strawberries, cranberries, shiitake mushrooms, collard greens, asparagus, kale, eggplant, cinnamon, avocados, mustard greens, turnips, spinach, flax seeds, beets, cabbage, tomatoes, oregano
World's Healthiest Foods rich in Fiber (based on daily value %): Navy beans, dried peas, lentils, pinto beans, black beans, barley, lima beans, garbanzo beans, kidney beans, soybeans
***Excellent sources: navy beans, raspberries, collard greens, turnip greens, mustard greens, eggplant, cinnamon
**Very good sources: dried peas, lentils, pinto beans, black beans, barley, lima beans, kidney beans, wheat, green peas, winter squash, pear, spinach, ground flax seeds, beets, swiss chard, carrots, brussels sprouts, oranges, strawberries, asparagus, fennel, green beans, kale, broccoli, cranberries, shiitake mushrooms, tomatoes, cauliflower, coriander, romaine lettuce, bell peppers, cabbage, oregano, cloves, celery
**Good sources: garbanzo beans, soybeans, avocado, rye, spelt, papaya, yam, buckwheat, apple, olives, sesame seeds, oats, potatoes, sweet potato, corn, blueberries, prunes, banana, onions, pineapple, kiwi, leeks, figs, grapefruit, cantaloupe, summer squash, basil, black pepper, thyme, rosemary, cayenne pepper, miso, turmeric, plum, dill, apricot
VITAMIN A: (About 3,000 IU for boys, 2,333 IU for girls)
*Vision support, support of immune and inflammatory systems, cell growth support, reproductive processes, and plays a role in normal bone metabolism
Carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, collard greens, spinach, kale, turnips, mustard greens, red and green lettuce, romaine lettuce, dandelion greens, spinach, collard greens, green beans, broccoli, brussel sprouts, butternut squash, paprika, cayenne, peppermint, chili pepper, liver, parsley, basil, dried apricots, cantaloupe, mangos, papaya, bell peppers, watermelon, tomatoes, grapefruit, asparagus.
World's Healthiest Foods rich in Vitamin A (based on daily value%): sweet potato, carrots, spinach, kale, collard greens, turnip greens, swiss chard, winter squash, mustard greens, romaine lettuce
***Excellent sources: sweet potato, carrots, spinach, kale, collard greens, turnip greens, swiss chard, winter squash, mustard greens, romaine lettuce, cantaloupe, papaya, bell peppers, tomatoes, cayenne pepper, leeks, grapefruit, asparagus, green beans, apricot, parsley
**Very good sources: green peas, watermelon, brussels sprouts, broccoli, celery, chili pepper, peppermint, basil
*Good sources: oranges, plum, summer squash
VITAMIN C: (About 75mg for boys, 65mg for girls)
*Helps protect cells from free radical damage, lowers cancer risk, regenerates your vitamin E supplies, and improves iron absorption
**Signs of deficiency: poor wound healing, frequent colds or infections, and lung-related problems
Oranges, tangerines, kiwi, sweet potato, red and green hot chili peppers, guavas, bell peppers, thyme, parsley, kale, mustard greens, broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, papaya, strawberries, pineapple, cantaloupe, grapefruit, turnips, collard greens, raspberries, lemons, limes, cabbage, tomatoes, spinach, watermelon, fennel, romaine lettuce, winter and summer squash, green beans, parsley, asparagus, cranberries, sweet potato, green peas, blueberries, onions, leeks, carrots, beets, plums, garlic, apricots, cloves, celery, potatoes, yams, avocados, bananas, apple, corn, pear, grapes, cucumber, cayenne pepper, peppermint, eggplant, and basil.
World's Healthiest Foods rich in Vitamin C (based on daily value %): papaya, bell peppers, strawberries, broccoli, pineapple, brussels sprouts, kiwi, oranges, cantaloupe, kale
***Excellent sources: papaya, bell peppers, strawberries, broccoli, pineapple, brussels sprouts, kiwi, oranges, cantaloupe, kale, cauliflower, grapefruit, turnip greens, mustard greens, collard greens, raspberries, swiss chard, lemons, limes, cabbage, tomatoes, romaine lettuce, winter squash, summer squash, spinach, watermelon, green beans, fennel, parsley, asparagus, cranberries
**Very good sources: sweet potato, green peas, blueberries, onions, leeks, carrots, beets, plum, garlic, apricot, cloves, celery
*Good sources: potatoes, yam, avocado, banana, apple, corn, pear, grapes, cucumber, cayenne pepper, peppermint, eggplant, basil
VITAMIN E: (About 15 mg for boys and girls)
*Protects your skin from ultraviolet light, prevents cell damage from free radicals, allows your cells to communicate effectively, and helps protect against prostate cancer and Alzheimer's disease
**Signs of deficiency: digestive system problems, especially malabsorption, tingling or loss of sensation in arms, hands, legs, or feet, liver or gallbladder problems
Almonds, sunflower seeds, avocados, hazelnuts, peanuts, pinenuts, tomatoes, papaya, turnip greens, peanut butter, wheat germ, paprika, red chili powder, almonds, basil, oregano, sage, thyme, parsley, cumin, dried apricots, pickled green olives, spinach, cooked taro root, bell peppers, swiss chard, mustard greens, asparagus, cayenne pepper, collard greens, kale, raspberries, carrots, brussels sprouts, broccoli, cranberries.
World's Healthiest Food rich in Vitamin E (based on daily value %): sunflower seeds, almonds, spinach, swiss chard, turnip greens, papaya, mustard greens, collard greens, asparagus, bell peppers
***Excellent sources: spinach, swiss chard, turnip greens
**Very good sources: sunflower seeds, almonds, mustard greens, asparagus, bell peppers, cayenne pepper
*Good sources: papaya, collard greens, kale, raspberries, tomatoes, carrots, brussels sprouts, broccoli, oregano, cranberries
Things to Keep in Mind:
**LIsten to your body- adjust your nutrition to fit your training and daily schedule
**Start with a "Whole Foods Plant Based Diet"- full of grains, fruits, and vegetables
**Enjoy a pre-workout snack rich in simple carbohydrates- 30-60 minutes before starting a workout (fruit, fruit juices)
****This is great website to check out to be able to track nutrition and health data. It provides general nutritional information. All you have to do is create a username and password. www.cronometer.com
General Key Steps
1) Eat whole foods
2) Eat a primarily plant based diet
3) Limit refined sugars (stay away from artificial sweeteners and sugar substitutes)
4) Enjoy healthy full fat foods (avocados, coconut, nuts, olive oil, fish oil, seafood)
5) Eat whole grains
6) Avoid processed meats; eat organic or grass-fed instead
7) Eat beans-they provide quality protein, dietary fiber, and vitamins and minerals
8) Eat nuts and seeds: quinoa is technically a seed prepared like rice and called "the grain with complete protein power"