For some reason, we’ve been brainwashed by a multi-billion dollar industry into thinking that the best way for athletes to perform better is to buy the latest supplement craze in sports performance at a supplement store. From energy drinks to pre-workout powders to during workout goo gels, we’re always looking for the competitive edge. The hilarity comes when we think that it needs to be engineered in a lab. The truth is, Mother Nature is hands down the greatest engineer of performance supplements by way of foods for athletic performance.
While there are many sports nutrition supplements that are beneficial for athletic performance, one key indicator that should have you immediately throwing it back on the shelf rather than into your shopping cart is the warning on the label. If the product says something to the effect of, “Warning: do not use if under 18 years of age…” don’t buy it! Here’s a fact: absolutely nothing magical happens to the human body at 18 years old that enables us to be able to process artificial chemicals in a healthy way. It’s not like at my 18th Birthday party, my friends and family sang:
“Happy Birthday to you,
you’re invincible now, too.
Congratulations dear Aphrodite,
chemicals no longer harm you!”
Let that thought marinate before you start using “adult only” supplements… well, besides wine and hard alcohol. And as far as aphrodisiacs go, Mother Nature made the best versions of those “adult only” supplements, too. Mother Nature provided us with amazing foods that will fuel athletic performance. So many, I could rant about options for days, but for the sake of this article I’ll focus on my top 5.
Here are my top 5 foods for athletic performance:
1. Beetroot juice (500 ml shot/day)
Rather than taking expensive nitric oxide supplements that are chalked with fillers and chemical additives, take a shot of beetroot juice or add some fresh beet to sweeten up a delicious green smoothie. Many of the highly popular pre-workout performance supplements have beetroot juice powder in them mixed in with all of the other chemical garbage. Studies have shown that beetroot juice can increase power without increasing oxygen consumption. What happens is the inorganic nitrate found in beets converts to nitric oxide; which several studies have show causes an improvement in exercise efficiency and improved tolerance for high-intensity exercise. As you know, sports are high intensity exercise! Beetroot juice has also been shown to help lower blood pressure. If you’re super picky and don’t like beets, don’t worry. You can always get similar benefits from spinach and celery— as they both have very high nitrate levels greater than 250mg/g.
2. Avocado (1/2 to 1 medium/day)
Although this nutrient-dense superfood is high caloric (roughly 290 calories and 24 grams of fat), the source of fat (high in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats) can actually help increase muscle mass, lower cholesterol, and keep you satisfied long after you eat it. Avocados are loaded with fiber (roughly 15 grams) and high in electrolytes like magnesium for muscle relaxation and contain up to 60% more potassium than a banana. Plus, they are a rich source of B vitamins to provide you instant energy. All of this goodness in a creamy, delicious vegetable. Now that’s what I call a super food!
3. Virgin Coconut Oil (1-3 Tablespoons/day)
When we first launched our FIT 365 shakes back in 2005 and included coconut oil, people still thought that coconut oil was bad for you. Now you can go to any health food store and find an entire row of coconut oil as it is the healthiest oil on the planet. This thermogenic fat-burning fat helps you burn your own body fat as fuel. It’s iodine rich, which is a mineral that helps you convert the thyroid hormone thyroxine (T4) into triiodothyronine (T3). Thyroid hormones are primarily responsible for regulating your metabolism. T3 is the most powerful hormone in your body for fat burning. You can use the MCFAs in coconut oil as fuel the same way you’d use simple carbs without the negatives, as unlike other fats, coconut oil is sent to the liver and immediately converted into energy. Plus, consuming coconut oil has the added benefit of a ketogenic effect that will keep you from losing muscle mass. Lastly, coconut oil is fantastic source of Medium chain Triglycerides (MCTs), which studies show suppresses lactic acid build up in muscles RPE (rate of perceived exertion) during exercise. That means you can perform better for extended periods of time.
4. Year-round, Grass-Fed Whey Protein: (21 grams/serving)
Whey protein is one place where you must invest in quality over quantity. Unlike most vegan proteins, Grass-fed whey protein provides all of the essential amino acids in the correct balance. The biological value (BV) is 100, which means it is by far the supreme protein source as it is the most readily used and absorbed protein by the human body. Year round, grass-fed whey protein means that the cows that produce the whey are solely fed grass year round as they live in a place in the world where weather and the farmers permit the cows to roam free and always eat off the land. The whey in FIT 365 is from South Australia, where cows bask in the beautiful sunshine year round as they enjoy nutritious grasses. Consuming grass-fed whey increases overall health and sustained energy levels. It promotes antioxidant production (Glutathione precursors), which are the highest antioxidants produced by our own body. It’s the highest source of amino acids for muscle building and sparing and strength. What is unique about the grass-fed whey we use in FIT 365 versus most grass-fed whey protein is that our whey is not a heavily processed byproduct of cheese manufacture, so it contains all of the fragile immune-modulating and regenerative components naturally present in fresh raw milk. Unlike our competitors, you can see the immune precursor numbers on our label, which is fantastic for immune system function and cellular detoxification.
5. Raw honey: (2 TBS or 2-3 grams)
Raw honey has been used by athletes as far back as ancient Greece and Rome. It’s better than a sugary or artificial sweetener loaded sports drink for recovery and increased stamina. The natural sugars in raw honey are easily absorbed carbs from glucose and fructose as well as rich in vitamins and mineral electrolytes. Most simple sugars spike blood sugar, which causes the pancreas to secrete insulin to bring levels back down. This response leads to fatigue, lack of mental clarity, and decreased performance. Raw honey doesn’t have this ill effect. Studies have shown a significant increase in power and speed from using raw honey. Also unlike the simple sugar found in most sports drinks, raw honey is probiotic rich in bifidobacteria that increases healthy bacteria in the intestine. A great way to enjoy the benefits of raw honey in a delicious and nutritious pre-workout snack is with a Perfect Bar (www.perfectbar.com). These bars are unique in that they are all real food ingredients found in the refrigerated section to keep them fresh.
All 5 of these phenomenal food sources are not only delicious but also amazing for athletic performance. If you don’t have time or want to remember to eat all of these things throughout the day, you can mix all of these ingredients together in a blender as a supercharged, delicious smoothie! Remember, Mother Nature knows best when it comes to what is best for optimal human performance without side effects.