Athlete or not you need to fuel your body right for exercise and eat the right foods for recovery. Grueling workouts and training day in and day out can lead to some depleted nutrients in the body and hinder future workouts and performance. With all the protein drinks, bars, and supplements on the market it can get get a bit confusing. As an athlete myself I have found the best things for fuel and recovery are REAL food! Look at supplements as a kind of support to an already sound diet.They are not required!
Here are 4 foods I have a never ending supply of in my kitchen! Sure there are many more beneficial foods out there but from pre workout fuel to adding into post workout shakes/meals these food staples are a MUST for any and all athletes looking to stay in peak shape!
Bananas are a perfect convenient food that come prepackaged with fiber, antioxidants, and nutrients! Bananas are a great source of energy and contain an incredible amount of potassium. Potassium is a mineral that the human body requires to maintain muscular function. Eating bananas will alleviate and prevent muscle cramps.
Bananas are also a great pre-workout fuel. They are “heavier” in the stomach and filling but at the same time light and low in calories. This is great for high endurance exercises where you don’t really want to much in your stomach before hand. One of my fav pre-workout foods is a banana rolled in chia seeds!
2. Coconut and Coconut Oil
Coconut oil contains medium chain fatty acids that get used up to generate energy which speeds up your metabolism. Medium chain fatty acids are an energy source that helps burn fat and this “thermogenic” effect can last hours after you ingest it.
According to “The Coconut Oil Miracle,” by Bruce Fife, raw coconut oil can help boost your immune system, and fight cellular damage from free radicals. This is important for athletes because vigorous exercise promotes oxidation and can lead to suppressed immunity. Coconut oil functions as an immune enhancer plus its antimicrobial and antiviral, so it supports your body’s fighting off infections.
Coconut oil can give you the extra energy boost you need for your workouts. When you eat coconut oil it is not only used to produce energy but, because it is so easy to digest, it actually helps your body conserve energy that would normally be used to digest other kinds of fats! This is a simple healthy natural way to power up your workouts!
My favorite way to get coconut into my daily diet is to crack a whole coconut, drain the water, peel off the hard outer layer and cut into snack size pieces. Then I store in the fridge and eat throughout the day. Also adding 1 Tablespoon to my morning cup of coffee is a daily ritual!
Avocados are an amazing concentrated source of energy and nutrients. They are full of good fats (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated) which help promote lean muscle growth and keep you full!
One avocado contains around 15 grams of fiber and nearly 20 vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients. Avocado’s contain critical electrolytes like potassium and magnesium, which contribute to proper cell and muscle funtion vital to all athletes!
Ripe avocado’s mix up great into protein drinks or smoothies. They are also yummy just as a snack with seeded (grain free) crackers, or on top of a organic grass fed burger!
4. Almond butter and Seed Butter
Almond Butter and seed butters are a great healthier alternative to peanut butter.
Almond butter is a nutritional powerhouse that contains protein, calcium, fiber, magnesium, folic acid, potassium, and vitamin E. Nut and seed butters are a great source of protein and healthy fats that will keep you full.
My favorite way to get this superfood into my diet is just by eating it right off the spoon, adding into smoothies, or spreading on organic apples and celery!
So whether you are an elite athlete or just getting started into exercise its important to recognize what you eat can make a difference in overall performance. Athletes not only train their bodies and minds but their nutrition has to be spot on. Eating a healthy diet sufficient in nutrients and calories to fuel training and recovery is the key component in creating optimal performance!