As more athletes get involved in competition, the more they all seek advantages in improving. Aside from commitment to training, it is the ability to recover that separates the good from the great. Simply put, the quicker athletes can recover from training and competition, the faster they can improve upon their performance.
What most athletes fail to realize, is just how much of their recovery is attributed to nutrition. Athletes can gain a nutritional edge and improving performance by complementing their dietary regimens with superfoods. There are a number of fruits, vegetables, seeds and roots in most local grocery stores which truly offer an edge to recovery and, in turn, enhanced performance.
Here are four plant-based superfoods that can help improve performance and recovery by simply introducing them to your diet.
1. Chia Seeds
Chia seeds are commonly referred to as the “ultimate runner’s food.” A complete protein high in omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, phytonutrients and antioxidants, Chia seeds have been shown to promote heart health, boost endurance, increase oxygen uptake and impede dehydration. This superfood is also an excellent “slow-carb” that provides sustained energy over a long period of time.
Just sprinkle the recommended serving size—usually about 2 tablespoons—in your pre-workout/post-workout smoothie, in your morning bowl of cereal or on your lunch salad and you’ll reap the benefits of this superfood throughout the day.
2. Maca Root
Traditionally used to enhance sexual performance, this root vegetable—native to the Andes Mountains—is packed with amino acids, vitamins and minerals. Maca root has been shown to improve stamina and reduce the onset of exercise-induced soreness. It’s purported mood-lifting effects may help provide increased motivation for working out.
Additionally, maca’s high levels of calcium and magnesium can promote bone health and reduce chances of fractures, making it of particular interest to athletes. This superfood is available in powder, liquid, and capsule form, and the recommend dosage is 450mg taken three times a day with food.
This blue-green algae is noted as having the highest percentage of complete protein by weight of any food on earth. It may well have put the “super” in superfood! Packed with a wide variety of antioxidants, phytonutrients and vitamins, the use of spirulina has been correlated with increased endurance and expedited recovery after exercise.
Ever since Coach Ma of the Chinese Olympic Track & Field team confessed he was providing cordyceps to his world-record breaking runners daily, the reputation of the mushroom extract became legend among athletes.
Studies support positive effects from this superfood on stamina, vitality, endurance, and energy as well as its added benefits on cardiovascular and immune functioning. The recommended intake of cordyceps is 3 to 9 grams taken twice daily as a liquid extract, as food, or as powdered extract.
I recommend trying something new and adding these superfoods to your daily diet. Keep track of how your performance and recovery improve with these new additions to your diet to make your own decision on which will work best for you.