I’m officially obsessed with natural sport nutrition.

I’ve been doing some research since my last post on holistic sport nutrition and I’ve now compiled a small list-in-progress of:

POSSIBLE NATURAL NUTRITION AIDS FOR ATHLETIC PERFORMANCE

1. Beetroot Juice. Studies have shown that beetroot juice is great for endurance athletes because it boosts stamina, allowing you to exercise for up to 16% longer. However, I found some forums where people who have actually tried it share their experience. Word on the street is that it tastes like ass.

2. Ginseng root. Also said to increase stamina. This one is pretty popular and used for many of its other benefits besides stamina. It is available commercially in different forms. I’ve bought it as a root before. Weird smell.

3. Cayenne pepper. A natural stimulant linked to increasing metabolism and energy levels.

4. Comfrey. This is a common herb that has been used for musculoskeletal injuries. It has mild anti-inflammatory effects and is said to work almost magically for healing sprains. It can either be taken orally or the leaves can be applied directly to a wound.

5. White willow bark. Also known for its anti-inflammatory properties. It is sold in tablets or capsules and can be used like Asprin for sore joints or muscles.

6. Bromelain. This is an enzyme found in pineapple, also available as a supplement. It also has anti-inflammatory effects plus aids the digestion of vegetable protein.

I have yet to try any of these. I’d like to make my list a little longer and slowly start experimenting. It’s hard to find information on natural sport nutrition, especially as it applies to runners. It’s such a specific topic, which is partly why I find it so fascinating. I find I’m having to study sport nutrition and holistic nutrition separately, then combine the two in my head.

One of the books I’m reading right now is Matt Fitzgerald’s Performance Nutrition for Runners (not holistic). It’s a Runner’s World publication. Fitzgerald claims that runners have very specific nutritional needs that sets them apart from other athletes because:

  1. They sweat more and burn more calories than other types of athletes.
  2. Fueling on the run is more challenging than fueling in other sports.
  3. Runners don’t want to slow down or stop to drink during races.
  4. The stomach jostling involved in running makes it hard to tolerate a high stomach volume.

Another book I am reading is Staying Healthy with Nutrition by Elson M. Haas, MD. He shares the following basic holistic diet plan for athletes (not specific to runners):

ATHLETE’S NUTRITION PLAN BY ELSON M. HAAS, MD

1. Carbohydrates

  • 50-60% of total calories
  • 10-20% or these should be simple carbs (fruits, most vegetables, and any special treats)
  • 40-50% should be complex carbs (whole grains, legumes, starchy vegetables)

2. Proteins

  • 15-20% (no more than 25%) of total calories
  • Include animal protein (fish, poultry, meats, eggs, and dairy)
  • Include vegetable protein (nuts, seeds, legumes)

Fats

  • 25-30% of total calories
  • Include saturated fats (meats, eggs, dairy products)
  • Include unsaturated fats:

more than 50% of total fats

nuts, seeds, vegetable oils, avocado

Keep in mind that this Haas diet is “designed for the serious athlete,” which the book describes as people who regularly workout to “achieve top physical condition by improving strength, flexibility, and endurance.”

The plan I have from my nutritionist is more specific and personalized. I eat carbs after training and during breakfast, then in the evenings I have low-carb meals. Some of you have expressed confusion over what to eat, so this is a low-carb recipe that works well, courtesy of my nutritionist! Here’s dinner:

RANDOM PAD THAI

(3-4 servings)

T = tablespoon (15 mL) t = teaspoon (5 mL)

Protein

1/4 block of tofu (substitute chicken or pork or steak)

25 almonds

2 – 3 T of peanut butter

Veggies

1/3 cup carrots

2 cups assorted colour bell peppers

1/4 cup small pieces of broccoli

3 cups bean sprouts

1/2 cup chopped tomatoes

Spices

1/2 t of chile powder

Dash of black pepper

Dash of coriander

2 – 3 T Catalina dressing

Other

1/3 cup water

1 t olive oil

Basically, you throw everything in the wok for 10 minutes and stir frequently, otherwise covered with a lid.

Specific instructions:

Add about 1/4 cup of water and a t of olive oil to a wok or large frying pan with a lid. Heat to almost high.

Meanwhile:

Chop the carrots and broccoli to bite sizes. Add to pan. Cook for five minutes.

Chop tofu into half inch cubes.

Chop almonds into random pieces to preference.

Chop red pepper to bite size.

Add to pan. Add spices and oils.

Heat for 5 to 10 minutes depending on preference of softness of vegetables and pasta.

Right before serving, add the bean sprouts, and heat covered for 2 minutes.

(CONTAINS: 700 calories, 30 grams protein)

IN CONCLUSION

I’m freaked-out-excited about natural sport nutrition! It’s a completely untapped area of expertise. It’s hard enough finding a trainer with even a mild inclination as to good nutrition, never mind a trainer for athletes also educated in both sport nutrition and holistic nutrition. Now imagine a running coach with those kinds of credentials. Freaking Olympics baby! Not that I would end up there myself, but I’d have more than enough tools to get someone else there. Woo!

By the way, I’m planning on twisting someone’s arm into helping me take pictures of my back and biceps (get it? twist an arm? biceps??). My trainer forced me to stand in front of a mirror yesterday and flex in weird ways. And yes – there’s definitely some definition. I have baby biceps, it’s the cutest thing! Plus some back definition. Check back to see!

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