In an ideal world, we’d be able to get all of the nutrients we need from our food. However, current research states we are “mismatched” with our current environment due to a combination of variables
– nutrient deficient soils, genetically altered crops, overuse of antibiotics, birth control and other medications, storage and transportation of our foods with the increase of stress and demands from our growing toxic environment. These factors and more make it impossible for us to get all our nutrient needs met through our food alone. Plus, how many of us are actually eating the perfect diet 90% of the time? Combine these factors with the fact that you’re training extra hard, you need more nutrients to meet the demands you’re putting on your body. There are some basic add-ins nutrient wise to not only help ensure overall health but to help give your body the extra supply of the nutrients necessary to perform at higher levels and recover faster. And a quick note about purchasing supplements/nutrition, please only buy from health food stores or healthcare practitioners. Do not purchase from your warehouse/bulk stores. The most expensive supplement is the one your body doesn’t use. You’ll stand a better chance for a quality supplement from the health food stores and definitely from your healthcare practitioners. Or, feel free to check out the line I use in my office with my patients and personally – PureShock Nutrition.
Top 5 Nutrients to Improve Sports Performance
- Protein – Based on my experience, most of my athletes are not consuming enough protein in their diet. Research has always suggested to consume between 0.8grams – 2grams of protein per 1 kg of body weight. Protein is crtically important even for endurance athletes to help prevent muscle breakdown. The latest trends in diet include higher protein diets. The research suggests higher protein and lower carbohydrate diets are better for you overall. This research is not new. These studies have been being performed ever since the Standard American Diet was switched to consuming 60% of your calories from carbohydrates. Since the switch, Americans have not gotten any healthier. I’m not saying don’t consume carbohydrates at all, but less for sure than what we’ve been programmed. One of the easiest ways to educate you about what you’re eating and the ratios between all of the macronutrients (protein, carbs, fats) is to use one of the many food tracker apps. I personally use MyFitnessPal. Based on the research that’s been done and is continuing to be done, the ratios we should be following for optimal health which will allow for optimal sports performance are: 45% protein, 35% good fats and 20% carbohydrates. Science is also moving away from looking at calories. It’s not just about calories in anymore. It’s about what type of calories you’re consuming. Trying to get this much protein in your daily diet can be a challenge. That’s where a clean protein shake can be very helpful. They’re a great post-workout/run option as well to get the nutrients back in the system to help prevent muscle breakdown.
- Amino Acids – Aminos are a great pre-workout/run addition. Benefits include: prevention of muscle breakdown, faster recovery times, build lean muscle mass, increase strength & endurance. The specific formula I prefer actually helps prevent muscle loss due to injury/time off from training. PureShock’s Amino also helps you get double the results from half the protein consumption, which helps to reduce the load on the kidneys.
- Omega’s – Omega fatty acids are better known as your fish or flaxseed oils. One of the biggest benefits they have is their ability to reduce inflammation in the body. Inflammation is the root cause of all disease. Eating a clean diet free from sugars will dramatically reduce inflammation in the body (Modified Mediterranean, Paleo, FODMAPS, Specific Carbohydrate Diet). Other benefits from adding in good Omega’s include: improved cardiovascular health, healthier cholesterol levels, improved brain health, memory and cognition, and improved blood sugar regulation. We cannot get enough from our diet alone.
- Probiotics – Gut health is incredibly important, especially for endurance athletes. Your gut is where 80% of your immune system lives. In order to even absorb the nutrients from our foods and any supplements we’re taking, your gut must be functioning properly. Research has suggested that approximately 80% of American’s have guts that are “leaking”, not functioning correctly. This can lead to a whole slew of problems. While inflammation may be lead to all diseases, medicine is now showing the initial breakdown in our system that leads to the inflammation starts in the gut. Probiotics are the easiest form of nutrition to help heal and keep a gut healthy. Consuming fermented foods like sauerkrat and kombucha help promote growth of the good bacterias in our gut. However, consuming yogurt doesn’t seem to be enough. You’d have to consume approximately 42 tubs of yogurt to get enough probiotics in. By then you’ve consumed so much sugar that you just killed off any good bacteria. Stick to the fermented foods and then add in a probiotic. If you only added one supplement to your diet, the probiotic would be your best choice – most bang for your buck!
- Multivitamin – Basic form of “insurance” for overall health and sports performance. Depending on what your diet looks like, example you lack variety and color, adding a multi in can fill in the nutrient holes. Multi’s have antioxidant protection. When you’re an athlete, you’re exposed to and are producing more free radicals. We need more antioxidant activity to help protect us from those free radicals. They also support the body’s natural ability to detoxify. Hugely important with how much junk we’re exposed on a regular basis. Multi’s can also help us combat stress. Which, who doesn’t have stress? They also support healthy immune system function.
There is so much you can do with your diet, but perfect diets are not enough anymore unfortunately. These nutrients combined with a nearly perfect diet will help support your overall health. The healthier you are, the more improved your sports performance will be. In addition to these nutrients, check out the blog on how to not get sick. All of these combined will help optimize sports performance levels.