How to Eat Like An Athlete with Plant-Powered Foods
There is a myth in sports that all athletes eat super healthy. How else would they get their bodies to perform at their best? The truth is most eat whatever and whenever they chose.
Some athletes perform well despite consuming an unhealthy diet. Actually they are the exception rather than the rule. Most athletes and other active, health-conscious people recognize that the old adage “you are what you eat” is true most of the time. In this article I will show you how to eat like an athlete with plant-powered foods.
To perform at your best, whether it’s in football, a cross country race, a game of tennis, or a workout at the gym, we need to fuel our bodies with the right stuff. While we all know that whole foods are healthier than processed foods, and that plant-based foods are by far the best choices, there are definitely a few nutritional standouts that should be staples in any active person’s diet. Here’s a roundup of some of our favorites:
Dark leafy green vegetables are some of the most nutrient-dense foods around! They are a great source of vitamins K, C, and E, and minerals such as calcium, iron, magnesium, and potassium. They are also rich in protective antioxidants and phytonutrients like beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin.
Because exercise requires increased oxygen consumption, it also increases the production of free radicals in the body. Thus, protection against oxidative stress in the form of adequate antioxidant intake is especially important for athletes.
Green smoothies are a great way to get more greens in your diet. You can sneak TONS of greens into a smoothie without even noticing them! It’s a much quicker, easier, and more convenient way to get a huge dose of nutrient-rich greens than a salad.
If you are an athlete on the run, the next best thing is a nutritious organic food bar with active greens and protein. They make a much better choice than the sugar filled breakfast bars crowding the grocery store shelves.
Blueberries are an ideal fruit for athletes because, along with being rich in carbohydrates, contain extremely high levels of antioxidants such as vitamin C. World’s Healthiest Foods reports that blueberries contain more antioxidants than most other commonly eaten foods.
Metabolism, especially fat oxidation, bumps up during exercise. The byproduct of this process, free radicals, destroy healthy cells. The antioxidants found in blueberries can effectively combat free radicals.
Blueberries can be eaten on their own as part of yogurt, a sugar-free jam, or over a bowl of whole grain cereal. They tend, however, to be high in pesticide residue, so be sure to thoroughly wash blueberries before you eat them.
The Center for the Science in The Public Interest ranks sweet potatoes as one of the 10 top healthiest foods in the world. Although the minerals and vitamins in sweet potatoes are beneficial to overall health, it’s the low glycemic index carbs that are a boon to athletes.
The rate of absorption of a carbohydrate source is known as the food’s GI. Foods that are absorbed quickly have a high GI and those that are absorbed slowly are low GI. Sweet potatoes, unlike their white cousins, have a very low GI. Because a sweet potato’s carbs are absorbed gradually, they can give you sustained energy throughout your training session or competition.
Yogurt’s protein, calcium and riboflavin are crucial for athletic performance. Protein helps repair overworked muscles, calcium is important for muscle contraction and riboflavin helps enzymes work.
Yogurt is rich in high quality protein, containing nearly 13 g per cup, according to World’s Healthiest Foods. A single serving takes care of nearly half of your day’s calcium requirement as well. Riboflavin, a vitamin that is required for enzymatic activity, is often low in female athletes, according to Colorado State University Extension.
As an athlete it is easy to feel like you are immune to the effects of junk food. However as you age your bodies ability to overcome the effects of too much sugar and not enough nutrition decreases. Soon you are finding it harder to maintain your energy and you may even find yourself putting on unwanted weight. Increase your intake of plant-based foods and take control of your diet.
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