Sports nutrition has progressed leaps and bounds within the last quarter century. Diet is now a key component of all athletes’ training plans. Here are 5 lessons from the last 25 years (or more) that have not only enhanced athletic performance but have also improved longevity and helped us come closer to optimum health.
Number 1: Type & Timing of Carbohydrates
In 1967 a group of Swedish researchers discovered that athletes that increased their carbohydrate intake were able to run both faster and farther.
We have learned in the past 25 years that consuming carbohydrates with a low glycemic load (GL), like intact grains and legumes, as part of one’s daily diet prevents spikes in blood sugar that could eventually lead to insulin resistance, a key driver of obesity, type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
Research has shown that eating a low GL meal prior to exercise provides sustained energy and improves endurance capacity. Eating a medium to high GL meal within 30-45 minutes post exercise will swiftly replenish glycogen stores ensuring you are prepped for your next workout.
Whether you are a paleo or vegan athlete the last 25 years have shown that eating a diet rich in plant based food is the key to both longevity and optimal health.
Research has shown that those with the highest consumption of unrefined plant foods reduce their risk of chronic diseases of aging like heart disease and cancer.
Athletes in particular will benefit from the rich sources of phytonutrients contained in the pigments of vegetables and fruits. Aim to “eat a rainbow” of veggies and fruit in order to maximize your intake of vitamin C, beta-carotene, anthyocyanins and other powerful antioxidants that will protect your body from the stress of exercise and boost your immune system.
Number 3: Nourishing Nitrates
One significant discovery in sports nutrition was the health and performance benefits of dietary nitrates. Consuming beetroot, celery and arugula, all rich sources of nitrates, has been shown to improve blood flow to muscles, increase oxygen efficiency and stamina as well as accelerate muscular recovery. Dietary nitrates have been shown to lower blood pressure which can reduce the risk of cardiac events.
Number 4: Get Friendly with Turmeric
The active compound in turmeric, called curcumin, is one of the most powerful natural anti-inflammatories. It has been shown to help reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, and diminish the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. Adding this bright spice to your diet can also help reduce exercise-induced muscle damage and soreness which can lead to faster recovery. Try adding turmeric to your grain dishes, omelets and vinaigrettes.
Number 5: Fabulous Fats
The discovery that omega 3 fatty acids contained in cold water fish, walnuts and chia seeds can improve insulin sensitivity, reduce inflammation and have cardioprotective effects make this nutrient a must-have in your diet. Studies have also revealed that omega 3s can enhance exercise capacity, increase maximum oxygen uptake and improve the function of blood vessel lining and circulation.
In the spirit of eating more plants you can’t go wrong with this leafy number. Leafy greens and cruciferous veggies (like Brussels sprouts) are two of the most nutrient dense foods loaded with antioxidants, cancer-fighting compounds and nitrates to boot.
- 2 cups of finely shredded kale (stemmed, then shredded or cut into fine ribbons)
- 2 cups of finely cut or grated Brussels sprouts
- ½ cup finely grated pecorino cheese
- ½ cup almonds, coarsely ground
- 5 anchovy fillets, chopped
- 3 small garlic cloves, chopped
- 1 scallion, minced
- 1 tsp dijon mustard
- Juice of 2 lemons
- ¼ cup of olive oil
Prepare the kale and the Brussels sprouts. Place the almonds in a food processor and pulse until chopped coarsely. Set aside.
Make dressing. Combine first 4 ingredients in a mini food processor and pulse until well combined. Add the lemon juice and pulse again, then drizzle in the olive oil and process until an emulsion forms. Season with salt and black pepper
Place the shredded kale and Brussels sprouts in a large bowl and toss with about half the dressing until it is coated but not drowning. Add half the almonds and half the cheese and combine. Let rest for about an hour to soften the kale and Brussels sprouts. If there’s no time, use your hands to massage the salad to speed up the process. Just before serving drizzle the remaining dressing (if necessary) and top with the remainder of the cheese and almonds.
Nutrition, Per serving- calories: 325kcals; protein: 11g; fat: 24g; carbohydrates: 14g; fibre: 4g.
Salmon is one of the richest sources of omega 3 fatty acids providing between 1.5-2 grams for a 4 ounce (120gram) serving. Enjoy this with braised greens and wild rice to complete the meal.
- 2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce or tamari
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
- 1 garlic clove minced
- Pinch of dried red chilli pepper
- Half of bunch of cilantro, chopped
- 4 – 4 ounce salmon filets
Make the marinade by combing all the ingredients in a blender or food processor. Reserve a few tablespoons of marinade to use as a finishing sauce. Place the remaining marinade in a ziplock bag along with the salmon filets. Marinate for at least 1 hour.
Preheat the broiler. Broil the salmon until cooked through, about 6 to 10 minutes depending on thickness. Drizzle with the reserved marinade and garnish with chopped cilantro.
Nutrition Information: per serving: 234 calories; 13 g fat; 6 g carbohydrates; 23 g protein; 0 g fibre.Share This: