As an athlete you try to cover all of the bases to improve your performance. You train hard, you get the new gear, you try to get enough recovery and you eat what you feel is going to get you to the next workout. What many athletes don’t think about are the details of their nutrition. Finding what works for you is the true key to optimal nutritional assimilation. Figuring out your individual needs takes time, patience, and detective work; the whole process can be expedited with proper guidance.
Here are my Top 5 Nutritional Musts for Athletes
1. Veggies and fiber are the main event! Yes, protein is important, but vegetables cover a broad spectrum of vital nutrients, as well as providing fiber to our gut. Fiber is necessary to feed and encourage the good bacteria in our gut. If we don’t have enough good microbes in our digestive system we simply cannot absorb enough nutrients.
Your body does not simply become what you eat, it becomes what you can digest and absorb.
If you encourage the wrong kind of microbiome (i.e., eating junk food, sugar, foods lacking nutritional value) you will never realize your potential in sport. I’m sure you’ve heard the saying “eat the rainbow”. Try to get as many colors into your diet every day. Personally, I try to eat a variety of veggies with each meal; this way I eat a broad spectrum on a regular basis and cover my phytonutrient needs.
2. Don’t be afraid of fats! Most of you have heard by now that fats aren’t villainous. But, many athletes still feel that eating fat will make them gain weight. This is far from the truth. Our organs need them to function, our brains use fat as it’s fuel source, fat soluble vitamins need them for transport, and, if you become fat adapted, you can utilize fat for energy. “Dietary fat actually speeds up your metabolism.” Good fats include; olive oil, avocados, coconut oil, nuts and seeds, and wild salmon and other deep water fish.
3. Take a probiotic! Going along with tip #2, probiotics help to proliferate your gut with healthy bacteria. Up to 90% of your immune system is in your gut and around 80 % of your serotonin (your happy neurotransmitter) is produced there. Keeping your flora happy is extremely important to your overall health. As an athlete you are constantly pushing your immune system. By simply taking a probiotic you could possibly save yourself some unwanted down time. Probiotics should be refrigerated, have several strains, and guarantees at least 30 billion live cultures.
4.Limit processed foods and sugars! Cut the sugar! Most of us get too much sugar in our diets. And I’m not just talking about cookies and ice cream. Read the labels of your processed foods. Almost everything, from breads to salad dressings, has some sugar added. Most doctors recommend getting no more than 25g per day of sugar, this includes fruit. An athlete can process more than this, but it should be in the form of whole fruits, nuts, and veggies like sweet potatoes. Processed sugars do not do anyone any good! They can compromise your immune system, lower your production of HGH, and cause higher fat storage. Sugar can also cause chronic inflammation which may lead to injury, arthritis, heart disease, insulin resistance,
5. Find your balance! This doesn’t need much explanation. What is right for one person may not be right for another. AND, we cannot be perfect every minute of every day. Look for the pattern in life, in your training, and your diet that works for you in the big picture. Do what you can in each moment. Lower your stress, get good sleep, enjoy time with friends and family, and find that “true north” of good eating that makes you feel vibrant, healthy and energetic.
Sometimes it can feel like a daunting task and seeking guidance can make it feel more achievable and less like a chore. I can help you navigate this goal. Please feel free to contact me to set up an initial consultation.