by: Michelle Bogle, RHN & Reiki Master/Teacher
What are the top 5 foods Athletes should consume in order to Improve performance?
As a mom of a competitive gymnast who trains 12 hours a week, at age 7 it is very important for me to make sure that I get high quality foods into her on a daily basis. Every morsel of food counts in this case!
Here are some of my favourite top foods that I make sure are in her diet every day in order to give her a great edge to her performance, and help her have a healthy body!
- Coconut Oil:
Coconut oil helps athletes to produce energy. This superfood oil is rich in Lauric acid, and is a medium-chain triglyceride (MCT). A MCT is easy for our body to digest which means that the body can quickly and easily burn it for energy. This boosts the athletes endurance, which really enhances their exercise ability. Coconut oil also helps reduce fat levels, which reduces overall body fat (which is great for us all!). How much coconut oil do I give my athlete every day? I make sure there is approximately 1 tablespoon at least in her meal before training.
2. Chia Seeds:
These seeds are considered a ‘warrior food.’ The word Chia is a mayan word for strength. The Aztec warriors used to carry a pouch of them, and would eat a tablespoon at a time. They said that 1 tablespoon is worth a day’s energy. This is a new great way to ‘carb load’ your athlete. I add these to her smoothies, or mix it with kefir or yogurt and granola for a great snack during nutrition break time. Chia seeds bolster energy and endurance, prolong hydration, and help maintain blood sugar balance. The seed is hydrophilic, which means that it can absorb ten times its weight in liquids in minutes. Add it to any liquid and you will see the ‘chia gel,’ which help to prolong hydration and retains electrolytes during exercise. Its important for anyone to be hydrated, especially your athlete. The gel, forms a block between carbohydrates and enzymes in the body, so the conversion of carbohydrates takes longer and energy is released steadily, allowing for better endurance.
3. High Quality Protein
Your athlete needs a high quality protein in her diet at all meals. Whey, collagen, pea and hemp proteins are great in a powder- not one that has added sugar even if its fruit sugar fructose. Lentils, beans, poultry, fish, eggs are other great sources. Protein benefits are countless in our body as we need it to build muscle, bone, tendons, skin, hair, and other tissue, enzyme production, its vital for recovery, its the building block in our body for countless activities that take place. Athletes expend more energy than the average person, so their bodies need more protein. But how much is really necessary? Approximately 1.2 to 1.7 grams/ kilogram a day. So you will need to do some math to get your amount. Protein is important right after a workout, event or training session especially within 20 minutes of finishing. Whole foods are best, but in this instance I pack a protein powder drink loaded with fruit, veggies and olive or coconut oil for some fat for her. Remember, protein is essential in all our meals because it isn’t easily stored by the body. Fish, 3 oz=21 grams, Chicken, 3 oz=21 grams, Turkey, 3 oz=21 grams, Beef, 3 oz=21 grams, Yogurt, 8 oz=8 grams, Cheese, 3 oz=21 grams, Nut butter, 2 tbsp, approx= 8 grams, Eggs, 2 large=13 grams. Protein should comprise approximately 10% to 30% of total energy intake for our four- to 18-year-olds.
4. Berries, Berries, Berries!
Antioxidant power! Blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, black berries, goji berries etc. all include having the highest levels of antioxidants among fruits. Antioxidants help with cellular regeneration, healing muscular tissue and recovery after exercise.
5. Coconut water
This is packed with potassium and electrolytes. Way better than those artificially produced electrolyte drinks filled with sugar. This is natures replenisher! To help your little athlete recover faster and increase athletic performance, add in some of natures drink and enjoy!
It’s important for our future world leaders to nourish their bodies in order to stay healthy. Healthy means, strong growing bones, guts and a healthy brain. Make sure you take the time to hydrate and nourish your athlete so they can grow to be healthy adults and get the most out of their bodies and sport!