Athletes are always searching for ways to improve performance. Most athletic dietary goals are focused on preventing and controlling inflammation, reducing impact on joints, countering oxidative damage, and increasing energy. With so many supplements and drinks on the market, it makes you wonder if there are actually natural ways to increase physical performance and recovery?
Before exercising most of us know that hydration is very important. When preparing for a major athletic event, it’s recommended to take in extra water two days prior. It’s easy to misjudge feelings of thirst during activity, but it’s actually dehydration. Depending on the type and intensity of activity, you can lose anywhere from 5 to 8 pounds from sweat alone in hot weather. For each pound lost you need to drink at approximately 16 ounces of fluid to replenish what’s lost(Bauman, 2010). During exercise it is advised to drink enough fluids to urinate every two hours.
The night before intense activity be sure to include high complex carbohydrates, moderate lean protein in your diet and avoid high fat high fiber foods. The high complex carbohydrates are a quick energy source that are crucial for the function of the brain, muscles, and internal organs (Bauman, 2011). Sources of complex carbohydrates are not limited to honey, broccoli, leafy greens, sea vegetables, starches such as legumes, whole grains, sweet potatoes, carrots, lentils, beans, brown rice, and quinoa as well as many fruits. Lean protein provides us with the building materials for growth, repair, and maintenance. Animal protein choices are poultry, seafood, yogurt, egg, and cheese. Vegetable protein sources are legumes, whole grains, nuts/seeds, and microproteins such as algaes and nutritional yeast (Murray, 2005). Vegetable sources must be combined to complete the amino acid chain. Combinations such as black beans and quinoa or lentils and rice can provide a significant amount of complete protein. Add at least 2 organic veggies for every serving of protein.
After high intensity activity consume carbohydrates higher in the glycemic index to replenish glycogen. A smoothie with bananas, green algae powder (spirulina), and mango provides protein to rebuild, carbohydrates to build glycogen and greens to alkalize as well as vitamin C to help replenish everything (Bauman, 2010). Instead of reaching for an off the shelf performance drink consider making your own drink designed to hydrate, prevent glycogen depletion, maintain electrolyte balance and which may enhance performance (Coso, 2008). Take 1 Qt, water, 1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice, 1 crushed 500mg calcium tablet, 1/3 cup honey, and ¼ tsp. Salt, mix together and drink up!
These are some of the safest food guidelines you can follow when deciding on a performance meal plan. This article may help you with your performance and can help you reach your goals of prevention, reduction, avoid damage, and increase energy. Use these tips to help you naturally!
- Bauman, Edward, MD. Musculoskeletal Health & Sports Nutrition Sports Nutrition. Penngrove: n.p., 2010. Print.
- Bauman, Edward, MD. Bauman College Wellness Program Lean Protein and Clean Fats. Penngrove: n.p., 2011. Print
- Coso JD, et al. Anaerobic performance when rehydrating with water or commercially available sports drinks during prolonged exercise in the heat. Appl Physiol NutrMetab. 2008 Apr;33(2):290-8.
- Murray, Michael T., Joseph E. Pizzorno, and Lara Pizzorno. The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods. New York: Atria, 2005. Print.