Food is the most important thing (outside of exercise) that can play a factor in your performance. You need to have the right fuel in the right quantities to be at your best. Many athletes underestimate this and just think “well my nutrition is good enough.” But would you ever say that for your training…NO! You would want to train harder and smarter and push yourself to be the best.
I take a two step approach to nutrition. First is the quality of my food. I want to eat foods that are rich in vitamins and minerals to help optimize the performance and recovery ability of my body. One important item I always include are dark leafy greens. These are potentially the most important foods your body needs to thrive.
Here is why:
- Dark greens such as spinach can increase the amount of EPO in your body, increasing your efficiency to utilize oxygen. Want a faster Fran time? Want to recover quicker? You need your greens.
- Dark greens contain anti-oxidants and can reduce the amount of inflammation in the body affecting the PH levels. Want to be less sore and avoid sickness? Eat your greens!
- Dark greens contain digestive enzymes that can help in the processing of food and fuel, specifically protein synthesis. Want to add muscle? Eat your greens!
Now I am like a lot of you, the idea of eating a large amount of raw spinach doesn’t appeal to me so I have had to find a strategic way to get this stuff in and doesn’t turn me off. Here is what I do to keep things appetizing:
- I put a small amount of greens, about 1 handful in every meal with fruit that I like. I often eat strawberries with spinach to keep things sweet and there is not a ton of spinach to eat. But over the course of 5 meals, I end of getting a lot.
- I put dressing on kale to give it an appetizing taste. One of my favorite foods now is the coconut kale salad from Whole Foods. I have had to try many different variations to find this one I like.
- I cook greens into food so that I don’t even know they are there. In eggs you can feed them into a scramble with sausage and mushrooms. In steak stir fry I mix them in.
So start experimenting with some green things and see how it affects your performance. Your homework is to try 5 different kinds of dark leafy greens and try to find what you like to eat. You also need to record this and write it down in your logbook. How much did you eat, and what was it? Track your nutrition and workout score so you can get an accurate assessment of what will truly work best for you.
Here are some other things I want you to track with your scores:
- Mood- Happy/Ok/Sad
- Energy- High/Ok/Low
- Sleep- Deep/Ok/Restless