I have long believed that nutrition is the only completely controllable factor athletes have in their quest for optimal performance. Every day you have the opportunity to eat nutrient dense, body healing, muscle building foods or you can consume highly processed, chemical laden, nutrient lacking slop. The first choice allows your body to thrive, excel and recover; the latter raises cortisol, increases inflammation and leads to potential deadly health issues like cancer and Alzheimers. As a scientist/ teacher by trade and an athlete by choice – my passions collided and I've been able to share my knowledge and experience by coaching athletes and health enthusiasts.
There are two (2) key areas where food can have the greatest impact on an athlete and six (6) key parts of recovery that can be directly affected by balanced, well-timed nutrition:
The two key areas where food can have the greatest impact on an athlete are during training/racing and during recovery. The first is fairly straightforward; by incorporating nutrient dense foods, mostly plants, into your diet on a daily basis you can feel confident that you're giving your body everything it needs to excel. The second is a bit more complex. Understanding the connection between food and recovery can be the difference between struggling through every day tired and injured or adapting to the training load and having elite level performances.
There are six key parts of recovery that can be directly affected by balanced, well-timed nutrition.
- Muscle tissue repair and protein synthesis – this is the key to future workouts, rebuilding broken down muscles, and going further and harder in your next session.
- Soft-tissue repair – crucial for the ongoing function of tendons, ligaments, and connective tissue.
- Hormonal Support – Exercise places a huge burden on your hormonal system by raising cortisol levels, lowering estrogen and testosterone production, and increasing insulin levels. The right foods can keep your hormones balanced.
- Immune system support – heavy training weakens your body's defenses – immune boosting foods can keep you on the right side of healthy.
- Inflammation reduction – exercise induced inflammation is natural and lessens muscle and joint functionality and anti-inflammatory foods can counteract that damage.
- Rehydration – carefully choosing products and foods that contain key electrolytes will get you ready for your next session and keep minerals in balance.