Giving Yourself That Edge…Safely

It’s no secret that whole foods and drinks are the safest and smartest route to go when fueling for your sport.  The evidence against steroids and other performance enhancing drugs are there and will only continue to mount, yet there will always be the individual that chooses to take that route.  The great thing about food is not only will it protect you from failing a drug test and costing you your scholarship and athletic career, but it also has so many other properties that can enhance your performance and recovery other than just providing the fuel you need to perform.

More and more research is coming out on beneficial foods that can help an athlete perform better but also recover stronger.  The following is a list of 4 foods, some common, some maybe not, that can help you perform at your peak but help you recover.

Beet root juice- Most of us consume the sugar from beets quite often (and too much).  It is how we get a majority of our table sugar.  I introduce to you a vegetable that will give you a boost.  Beets should be an athlete’s best friend.  It is a safe and alternative way to expensive and potentially adulterated pre workout supplements.  Beetroot juice, such as Beet Elite, can be taken to improve an athlete’s performance [1] and give them that extra jolt of energy to perform their workout or before competition day.  It is a great source of nitric oxide, which expands your blood vessels to allow more blood carrying oxygen and vital nutrients to your muscles for greater exercise potential.  As opposed to taking a pre workout substance such as NOExplode, you don’t have to deal with a proprietary blend (what does that even mean?) or potential adverse health effects.  Instead, you get a whole food (or juice) that also delivers folate, potassium, vitamin C, fiber and antioxidants.

Tart Cherry Juice- Another juice that can be beneficial to the athlete.  Many times after a workout you will get sore and it may cause you to skip a workout or to not be as effective at your sport.  Drinking tart cherry juice (maybe add water to help dilute the tartness) has been show to decrease the pain during exercise and after [2].  Cherry juice also provides antioxidants that can help decrease inflammation post exercise.

Chocolate Milk- Because it was talked about extensively in a previous post I won’t spend much time here on it other than it is a great post workout option to help recover by providing the needed protein and carbohydrates along with electrolytes to rehydrate.

Beef- We are all familiar with beef, whether we eat it or not.  For the athletes looking to gain mass or put on size, adding beef to your diet can help that immensely.  Creatine is a popular dietary supplement sold to many athletes, yet beef is a great source of it.  Not only does it have a good source of creatine (2g for every 16 ounces), it also provides iron, zinc, and selenium.  Iron and zinc are two crucial muscle-building nutrients and selenium is an antioxidant.   Choose lean cuts such as sirloin to decrease consumption of saturated fat.

While it is convenient to take supplements to gain the competitive edge, the risk of having adverse health effects and not truly knowing what is in them can cost you your health and your career.  We have everything we need to perform at our best in the foods we consume.  The best thing you can do for your performance is consume a quality diet of whole foods and stay properly hydrated.  Cheers to eating clean and working hard!

Here is a link to BeetElite to check out their products!

http://neogenissport.com/

Beet Juice- Nitric Oxide, pre workout

[1]        Bailey, S. J., P. Winyard, A. Vanhatalo, J. R. Blackwell, F. J. Dimenna, D. P. Wilkerson, J. Tarr, N. Benjamin, and A. M. Jones. “Dietary Nitrate Supplementation Reduces the O2 Cost of Low-intensity Exercise and Enhances Tolerance to High-intensity Exercise in Humans.” Journal of Applied Physiology 107.4 (2009): 1144-155. Print.

Tart Cherry Juice- Recovery, prevent DOMS

[2]        Kuehl, Kerry S., Erica T. Perrier, Diane L. Elliot, and James C. Chesnutt. “Efficacy of Tart Cherry Juice in Reducing Muscle Pain during Running: A Randomized Controlled Trial.” Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition 7.1 (2010): 17. Print.

Chocolate Milk- Post workout recovery shake, 4:1 CHO:Protein

[3]        Campbell, Bill, Ashley Forsyth, Bre Myers, Brittany Parker, Brittany Gomez, Ava Elkins, Colin Wilborn, Paul La Bounty, and Brandon Marcello. “The Effects of Fat-free vs. Fat-containing Chocolate Milk Ingestion on Muscular Strength in Female Collegiate Softball Players.” Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition 9.Suppl 1 (2012): P3. Print.

Tommy Jensen is a Registered Dietitian and a personal trainer certified through the American College of Sports Medicine.  He was a collegiate athlete and is working to be an advocate for athletes and adolescents to avoid performance-enhancing supplements.

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