An athlete’s performance is the sum of three things: his initial skillset, the number of hours he puts in the gym, and the quality of food or diet that he ingests for optimal functioning.
One may assume that an athlete painstakingly eats only the freshest and most nutritious fruits and veggies. You may assume that the leanest of meats is the only thing for him and that he needs to abstain from fried seafood in New Orleans.
However, nutrition doesn’t necessarily equate to sacrificing taste. Either way, there are delicious foods that can be healthy or workout-damaging. Below are three Superfoods and Super Boos that can either make or break your training.
The antioxidant properties of blueberries don’t just block cancerous tumor cells from forming; they also significantly reduce cell-wide damage caused by free radicals from the continuous banging that your body undergoes while performing sports activities.
Blueberries also promote healthy blood pressure and provide the body with a chock full of Vitamin C so that you won’t be absent at every workout session.
On top of added fiber for optimal performance, an article published by Medical Daily, with the help of a study conducted by the USDA research center, confirms that blueberries also “boost brain health and prevent cognitive decline.” This is essentially important for sports activities that don’t only require athleticism, but also sound decision-making.
Superfood #2: Fresh salmon
For every 100 grams of raw salmon, you’ll get 20 grams of protein, 30% Vitamin B-6 requirement, 6% Vitamin C and Magnesium, and innumerable anti-inflammatory omega-3 fats.
The price of raw salmon has indeed risen by up to 83% since last year, but no other fish is as good as this when it comes to propelling your muscles and repairing them from bumps and bruises quickly.
Salmon comes canned, smoked, or fresh, having its own advantages and setbacks (e.g., smoked having longer shelf life, while fresh may be the most appetizing one, but perishes quickly).
Interesting ways to eat salmon include using it as spread, oven-steaming, skewing with veggies, or incorporating it in low-carb pizzas or quesadillas.
Superfood #3: Sweet potatoes
Sweet potatoes are one of the most filling and most convenient meal options for busy sports enthusiasts. It’s pretty understandable that balancing working out with one’s business or employment is not easy, so having quality food-on-the-go is very helpful.
Sweet potatoes are known for an abundance of iron, an element vital to preventing sporty people like you from suffocating easily. It’s also rich in antioxidants (vitamins A & C). Its added bonus includes copper and manganese, two elements that are must-haves for good muscle functioning.
After peeling off these orange tubers and removing excess dirt, you can either munch on them outright or spice them up a little bit.
Exciting ways to eat sweet potatoes are as follows:
- Taco-like wheat wraps with chopped sweet potatoes, cucumber, and sliced lettuce
- Sweet potato cakes with applesauce and cinnamon
- Curry soup with diced sweet potatoes and veggies
All cereal brands boast their high-fiber content compared to processed grains, together with the calcium you’ll get if you pair them with milk. They also claim that the cereals are low-fat, which is ideal for your workout or sports regimen.
But what you should really ask is this: What are you exactly giving up to get this amount of fiber and minerals?
On an article published by Health Line, the process of manufacturing breakfast cereals is revealed:
- Whole grains are transformed into flour in the processing stage.
- Chocolate, sugar, and water are added into the mix to boost its flavor.
- Cereals are shaped into extrusion machines that utilize high temperatures.
- The cereal is dried and shaped into enticing shapes and forms.
Health Line concludes that “most cereals are loaded with sugar and refined carbs.”
These catapult your body’s insulin and blood sugar levels, making eating another high-carb food an instinct. And when you give up to those temptations, you’ll end up huffing and puffing after only a single sprint in the court.
Instead of indulging in cereals the first thing in the morning, you can opt to start with genuinely whole foods (e.g., green veggies, eggs, dietary bread, etc.).
Super Boo #2: Coffee
Who doesn’t turn to coffee every now and then for a sudden energy boost? It’s known to aid focus, not to mention the antioxidants and anti-liver cancer properties that it gives the drinker.
It works by stimulating the adrenal glands to make the body work twice as hard.
However, it has to be noted that the energy it musters is ephemeral. It doesn’t last long and is always followed by fatigue. Too much reliance on coffee can make one fall into the unending cycle of energy debt, thus, resulting in exhaustion that cannot be easily relieved.
Instead of coffee, you can choose to drink nerve-calming green tea. As opposed to coffee that releases energy in quick bursts, green tea steadily releases it in a couple of hours, which sits well with the adrenal glands.
Super Boo #3: Non-fat yogurt
TV commercials of most non-fat yogurt brands always include buff actors and skinny actresses hitting the treadmill and boasting its benefits.
The 2015 article published by the Time entitled “Why Full-Fat Dairy May Be Healthier Than Low-Fat,” stated that “none of the research suggested low-fat dairy is better.”
Actually, they concluded that full-fat dairy isn’t bad at all since it crowds tons of micronutrients in a single calorie. This density allows nutrients like potassium and calcium to be concentrated.
Non-fat yogurts have the disadvantages. Its unequal portion of carbs leads to unsteadiness in blood sugar, which can either starve or overfeed you.
As an alternative, go for full-fat Greek yogurt which helps suppress your appetite by making you feel fuller. It gives you ample and more complete macronutrients for optimal performance.
Wrapping It Up
Now you’re enlightened on some preconceived notions about food that aren’t entirely true, can you stay disciplined enough to shy away from those? Only your degree of dedication and engagement in being fit can answer that.
Shameka Keitt is a blogger and essayist at essayforme.org She also maintains a personal site on which she shares her insights about women empowerment, gender equality, and greener living. Shameka is months away from finally completing her Ph. D. in Communications.